Fun fact: I got boobs in 2nd grade. I was young for my grade, which means I was about six. Most adults think 6-year-olds are too young for sex ed, so I had no idea what was happening to my body. It was freaky.

I grew up hating my boobs.

My mom tried every trick under the sun to get me to wear a bra, but I was too embarrassed to wear one. She slipped training bras into my dressing room and ever so slyly left “camisoles” on my bed. Sorry mom, not gonna happen. I was a tomboy and bras were my arch nemesis. My dream was to play professional basketball in the (future) all gender NBA, and NBA players didn’t wear bras (shout out to Dennis Rodman for changing the game). My girlfriends began donning them in 5th grade (regardless of actual need). Even my younger sister started wearing a bra before I did. Finally, sports became so painful that I caved. It’s hard to be an NBA star with one hand holding your boobs in place.

I was the first of my friends to get my period, and as you might imagine, I was thrilled. I told only my mom, and lived in fear that anyone else would find out. Innocently, my mom told her friend (my friend’s mom), who told her daughter… who told the whole school. I thought my life was over, but I persisted and so too did my breast development. By 8th grade I was a solid F cup, and it only went up from there. Determined to hide them, I wore two sports bras to strap those watermelons down flat. I didn’t think anyone noticed until I overheard two of my friends call me “Uniboob” while I was in the bathroom stall. Awesome.

Little did I know that the nightmare had just begun.

I started high school, and with high school came high school boys. They treated my chest like a carnival attraction. My boobs were so perplexingly large that the boys thought it was ok to oggle them, talk about them, and even touch them without my permission. One particularly charming young man discovered that if you move each letter of my name to the next letter of the alphabet, it spells “Boob.” I had a new nickname.

Looking back now, it’s no mystery why I began to hate my body.

At 14 I looked like a 21 year old with comically bad implants. I was uncomfortable and desperate to make the attention stop. I turned to food, and as I got fatter, I got less inappropriate attention. Maybe I’d found a solution?

I struggled with my weight for many years after that. Then, when I was 18, I decided to get a breast reduction. This was the first time that I took control of my body, instead of my body controlling me. The experience was pivotal. I got more confident. Working out was easier. Clothes fit better. For the first time ever, I wasn’t ashamed of my body… I was proud.

Growing up I let others’ comments and reactions to my body dictate how I felt about myself.

Before I made the final decision, many of my friends begged me not to get a breast reduction. They said they’d die for boobs like mine. But it didn’t matter how anyone else felt. This decision wasn’t for them, it wasn’t for the opposite sex, it was for me. I refused to let anyone else’s opinion of my body influence me anymore.

Since my breast reduction, my attitude towards beauty is that it’s for me.

I dress in ways that make me feel good, beautiful, confident, and allow me to express who I am and my personal style. My hair and makeup (or lack thereof) depends on what makes me happy.

I try not to have my own “opinions” about other people’s bodies. Any time you point out how someone’s appearance doesn’t live up to society’s standards of beauty, you’re engaging in body shaming. The next time your friends start criticizing their own bodies, don’t join in. Instead ask, what do you LOVE about your body? If there’s something you want to change, take control and make the change for YOU. Whatever it is… losing weight, chopping off your hair, burning your bras… do what makes YOU feel good. Doing it for someone else will only make you feel inauthentic.

LOTS of people had opinions about my breast reduction. I understand that we’re social beings, but I wish the commentary was more supportive than gossipy. When others take control of their body and do what makes them feel good, we should be happy for them.

This includes if someone gets a nose job or always wears 6in heels. If they like it, good for them. Judging them is body shaming too (even if your intention is to renounce societal ideals).

Every woman controls her own body.

I believe if we get behind that idea, we can say buh bye to body shame. Do what makes you feel good and support others in doing the same.

Brains are the new tits anyway.

Originally published at