Too Small, Too Bouncy, Or Sagging: Can Women Ever Stop Worrying About Their Breasts?

Gender

Too Small, Too Bouncy, Or Sagging: Can Women Ever Stop Worrying About Their Breasts?

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

P

erhaps it was the combination of my unkempt hair, baggy T-shirt and an upper lip resembling a boy’s pubescent moustache that prompted the kid on a bus to wave at me and shout out, “Bye uncle!” Mortified and wounded, I figured that being inattentive toward my grooming needs was paying off quite badly. I flicked through the phone and called the beauty therapist that a neighbour had been raving about with the promise of “She’s cheap, clean, and good!” 

Sapna came home with a well-equipped kit and a sweet smile. I relaxed in the comfort of my own space and let her do her thing. As she deftly slathered hot wax on my heavily forested limbs and ripped off strips with efficient consideration, I fantasised about the sexy outfits I could now prance about in. 

Suddenly I was interrupted by Sapna tugging at my bra. “Madam, your strap is too loose. You’re so young! You should wear it tighter so your breasts won’t sag. Can I adjust it for you?” I nodded in a daze, making a mental note to tell my neighbour that dispensing unsolicited advice was another one of Sapna’s services. 

When she was done and I felt like the weight of the world had gone from my shoulders to boobs, I looked at her pleadingly, “Seriously? This tight!” She gave me a “You’ll thank me later” smile and continued. 

We were all like Goldilocks stuck with the wrong bust sizes, pointlessly searching for our “just right”.

After Sapna left, I showered up and moisturised. I stared at my reflection and cupped my breasts, turning them from side to side. Yes, the sag was evident and I cursed Sapna for reminding me of their futile battle against gravity. The stretch marks snaking across the fat spoke of the defeats endured over the years – the countless jiggles in underwired prisons, being tucked against their will into stifling minimisers and corsets, yanked at for months by a breast pump thanks to a stubborn baby’s refusal to latch, the kinky shenanigans in the bedroom. 

When they first arrived, I didn’t quite know how to handle the sudden puberty-induced baggage. The fat made its way to my chest, depositing layers and adding to my cup size. My mother took me to the department store and introduced me to the aisle displaying an assortment of cotton, satin and polyester brassieres. She picked the most horrendous cone-shaped ones; definitely her way of punishing me for the door-slamming tantrums.

As my boobs grew ambitiously in high school into the 36D terrain, they catapulted me from a state of obscurity as a gawky girl with caterpillar-like eyebrows and hair perpetually drenched in coconut oil to suddenly being noticed. I grew self-conscious of the attention and developed a hunch to make them less conspicuous. Then there were some of my friends who grumbled of their own “mosquito bites”. We were all like Goldilocks stuck with the wrong bust sizes, pointlessly searching for our “just right”. 

Transitioning from teen hood, the awkwardness slowly grew into pride and acceptance as I reined in my confidence. I began to love how womanly they made me feel. They went from bouncing about like a clumped mass at sports practice to helping me elicit a longing smile from a handsome stranger at a bar. My breasts helped me tick off a major milestone – believing I was sexy. 

They’ve been my partners in crime and time, enabling my evolving sensuality (if I may say so myself) and fulfilling their biological role of nourishing my child. I thought I was done worrying about them but it seems like they are adamant on staying relevant for longer. 

In my 20s, I complained about how much growing up sucked. Now in my 30s, it’s the growing old that’s becoming a pain in the ass, boobs and other body parts that are slowly deflating as I inch towards more wisdom. I colour my greying hair, use a special loofah for cellulite, dab night cream to ease facial wrinkles and abstain from making a big hullabaloo about my birthday. There is a fervent urgency to prolong the aging process and preserve tenderness. But how much can you do to stop your breasts from sagging? There are breast lifting surgeries and firming and tightening creams, but for how long will you fret over “the twins”? Sapna’s words ring in my ears like a warning to make the most of what I’ve got until it lasts. 

It’s a heartrending moment where comedy and reality mingle to feed us a sliver of raw female emotion that depicts how we can never stop worrying about our breasts.

There is an undeniable sadness in watching our once lush bodies wither. We spend half our lives cursing our anatomy and then the remaining not wanting it to forsake us. I see women ten years younger than me, flaunting suppleness and knowing the power they possess. I curse them under my breath and tell myself the lie that age is just a number.  

“This is 40” is one of the funniest yet real films I’ve watched on what it takes to sustain a marriage and age together. There’s a part where Debbie (Leslie Mann), a mother of two daughters and at the cusp of her 40th birthday, gapes at the voluptuous Desi (Megan Fox) bursting out of her bra in a changing room and declares, “My boobs are just gone. They didn’t even say goodbye, they just left.” It’s a heartrending moment where comedy and reality mingle to feed us a sliver of raw female emotion that depicts how we can never stop worrying about our breasts. 

A couple of years ago I was perusing through an adult toy store in Canada with utmost curiosity. The door opened and a senior citizen entered in a wheelchair. She went straight to the counter and promptly requested for a tube of nipple tease gel. After returning from the holiday, I went on to tell the “horny grandma” story to many people and laughed. But now I feel a deep admiration for her desire to enjoy her body irrespective of age or disability.

I’m torn between letting my boobs be and torturing them with perpetually taut brassieres to buy more time. Do I choose perkiness over comfort? Do I master the art of walking upside down to see if that helps? Or do I simply cease to care?

If I live long enough, someday I’ll be a walking bag of wrinkled skin, swinging my shrunken tits around haphazardly. No one will care about whether or not I wear a bra or how low I bend to pick up something that has fallen. I will not be sexy or pretty, just an old lady with lots of stories to share with anyone willing to spare her the time. And hopefully with a tube of nipple lube hidden in her bedside drawer.

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