If you’re self-conscious about your breasts, you’re not alone. However, you don’t have to feel that way. Easier said than done, right?
Body image is a challenge for people of all genders. But for women and people with breasts? We’ve been through the wringer. We hold unrealistic expectations of ourselves, our bodies, and our boobs. And we hold these expectations because we think that they’re required of us.
The good news is, nothing is required of our boobs. The bad news is, it can be tough to truly learn this lesson. But it helps to trace our shame and insecurity back to its source. Where did we learn that our body isn’t enough as it is?
We’ve been taught to feel shame about our bodies.
It’s pervasive. We have learned in very direct ways, from comments from loved ones and strangers. We’ve learned indirectly as we watched people we look up to critique their own appearance. We get messages every time we engage social media. When we watch TV and don’t see people who look like us.
It’s everywhere, and it’s been there since the beginning of time.
Just a walk down the bra aisle shows us what kind of shapes are socially acceptable. Round, smooth, plump, and pushed up.
Hey, we’re not knocking cleavage. Cleavage is fun! What’s not fun: thinking that you need it all the time whether you’re feeling it or not. Or whether your breasts have cleavage or not.
What’s not fun: thinking you need to wear a bra to round out the shape of your breasts, even if you don’t actually need the support.
The first thing to recognize is that our insecurities were given to us.
And we can give them back. So consider this your starting point to handing ‘em over. Breasts are awesome, so much fun, and need our love and attention like the rest of our body.
The “ideal” breast shape is a construct. And while this is frustrating, it’s also relieving because all we have to do is deconstruct it.
To start practicing loving your body despite what the culture tells you, download Emjoy and take the 30 day challenge: Become Body Positive. Each day you’ll be invited to practice new, positive ways of relating to your body.
Stay abreast: The anatomy of your boobs.
The truth is that breasts come in all shapes and sizes. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Big, small, lopsided, inverted nipples, you name it. Your body is a work of art. Here’s what makes your boobs what they are.
These vessels are part of the lymphatic system. They help the immune system fight infection by transporting a clear fluid called lymph. They also help to purify your blood.
Your boobs are full of ‘em. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the breast tissue and whisks away any waste.
This tissue makes the milk. Enough said.
These small tubes carry milk from the glandular tissue to the nipples.
Fatty tissue determines the size of your breasts and protects them from injury.
This tissue holds the glandular and the fatty tissue in place.
Arguably the most popular region of the breast, nipples have nine milk ducts and tons of nerve endings. They react to touch and arousal.
This is the darker skin surrounding the nipple. Sometimes there’s hair here. Also found here are glands that secrete lubrication, a breastfeeding mother’s godsend.
One is probably bigger than the other.
Yup, your breasts are one of a kind. Like an older twin who loves to brag that they were born a few seconds before the other, one of your breasts is most likely bigger than the other. And 65% of the time, it’s the left one.
Why that is, we don’t really know. But it’s fascinating, isn’t it?
Some medical publications will cite this occurrence as a “condition” called breast asymmetry. We view it as a medical condition about as much as we do the difference in the shape of two eyebrows.
They’re always up to something.
Breasts change. Like, all the time.
You can blame it on the hormones. For example, your menstrual cycle affects your breasts. Breast tenderness and soreness is a very common symptom of PMS. Some breasts swell up like balloons before menstruation, some during ovulation. Sometimes the color of the areola changes, too.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding both change the connective tissue in your breasts, which changes the shape and size. Can you blame them? They do some serious work during that time.
And aging changes our breasts, along with just about everything else about our body. Tissue becomes more fatty and less glandular, which causes them to lose their fullness. The areola will often lighten or become smaller.
Your breasts are pleasure centers, too.
Don’t ignore them, explore them. Your nipples are loaded with nerve endings, and those nerve endings expand out to the rest of each breast. When your nipples are stimulated, your brain receives its pleasure signals via the same route from your vagina, clitoris, and cervix.
Some people can have orgasms solely from nipple play. If you want to try your hand at this, head over to Emjoy and listen in on Breasts and Nipple Play to get started.
If nipple orgasms aren’t your thing, never fear. There’s still a good chance that your nipples are an erogenous zone for you, so play around on your own. Experiment with different kinds of touch, pressure levels, and take note of where you are in your menstrual cycle.
Take care of your breasts, okay?
Your breasts give you pleasure and have some pretty big responsibilities so make sure you take care of them.
Practice self-exams regularly in the shower. Some breasts simply have dense tissue, so not every “lumpy” feeling is cause for alarm, but if you start getting the lay of the land, then you’ll know when to be suspicious.
Get to the OBGYN regularly. They’ll be able to tell if somethings up.
Exercise regularly. Exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer significantly. It also releases feel-good hormones that can help you if body image (or anything else) is stressing you out.
Give your breast a massage. Break out the good oil, too. If skincare is your thing, don’t leave your breasts out of your regimen.
You have a unique beauty, and you’re capable of seeing it too.
Body image is a doozy. But you are the keeper of a beauty that is totally unique to you. Others can see it, and sometimes it’s hard to see it yourself. You are your worst critic, as they say. Here are some practices that you can use to start seeing yourself in a new light.
Do a social media purge. Unfollow accounts that embrace unrealistic body types and fill your feed with accounts that are devoted to representing all kinds of real people. Sometimes seeing other people embrace their own unique beauty, even if they don’t look anything like you, can help you find your way.
Play with selfies as a way to celebrate your boobs. Whether you dig a full frontal or a more artistic approach, playing with photography is a great way to start catching your beauty in action.
Do some embodied activities. Meditation, yoga, dance workout videos, biking, swimming, boxing. There are endless ways to get grounded in your body and have fun at the same time.
Incorporate breast play into masturbation. Masturbation is an excellent way to get to know yourself and it has tons of health benefits. Make sure you’re incorporating breast play into your solo sex.
It’s not easy working through body shame, but the reward always outweighs the struggle. So for now, enjoy your breasts. Let them be what they are. We’re rooting for you.