How I Learned to Love Myself (and Accept My Double-Ds)
When I was eight years old, I developed breasts. Not only did I begin to develop breasts at a young age, but I developed so fast that by the age of 13, I was already a double D. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s BIG. At my elementary school, I was the first person to ever wear a bra. When the kids in my class found out about my bra, they teased me relentlessly. They laughed at me and taunted me, calling me weird, crazy, and freak. I swore I’d never wear a bra again. But then the backaches started happening. I was an extremely active kid, and it became hard to comfortably play sports without a bra.
From nine to 12 years old, I was forced to choose between comfort and social acceptance. I looked at my body as an inconvenience to not only me, but to other people. I began to truly hate myself. The toxicity of the relationship between myself and my body magnified immensely when I turned 13 and started at a new middle school. I started this school under the impression that my big breasts were going to be targets for jokes and hate, so I made sure to keep them hidden. My new friends found out—and they told me to not only stop hiding my boobs, but to push them up as high as I could. But then I began being called a slut for wearing low-cut shirts.
At this point in my life, I was ready to disappear. I couldn’t look in mirrors, and if I did, I would stare for hours, analyzing all my flaws. I told myself that if I didn’t have these stretchmarks or these freckles, I would be lovable. I began compulsively eating, gaining and losing weight sporadically. My body officially became a battleground. I hated it. I loathed it. I wanted to crawl out of it and destroy it. My body was the only thing that ever gave me social acceptance, but it was also the thing that caused my social isolation. Should I hide my boobs or show them off? Either way I received hate. I was called a slut for wearing a low-cut shirt, but women on billboards had perfume bottles shoved between their boobs and they were called beautiful. I just couldn’t win.
I continued hating my body and feeling lost until I came across Free the Nipple’s website right after I turned 17. When I realized other people felt sexualized the same way I did, it was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel alone. There were other women who felt objectified and confused and lost and I was no longer alone. I immediately got involved. I threw my first protest two months before my 18th birthday, and it was one of the best days of my life. That day I started falling in love with myself. I took back the power society convinced me I didn’t have. I owned my body on my own terms. I became free.
The journey of self-love isn’t over. It is a constant process and some days I still struggle. There isn’t one moment when everything makes sense and your insecurities are cured forever. It is a lifelong dedication to yourself. Practice kindness. Be kind to yourself. Never say anything about yourself you wouldn’t say about a close friend or family member. If you look in the mirror and immediately see a flaw, name two things you do like about yourself. It takes time, but I promise, if you strive to love yourself a little bit more every day, you will fall in love with yourself just like I have. Be yourself. Speak up for yourself. Wear what you want to wear. Love who you want to love. And the rest will fall together.
By Ali Marsh, 19