5 Awful Realities of Having Size JJ Boobs in Sixth Grade
Through a process of rigorous study involving towering reams of surveys and strictly scientific Internet research, it has been determined that big boobs are awesome. Having been in possession of some especially massive sweater puppies, though, I'm inclined to disagree. To be fair, I got surgically rid of them at an age when calling them "sweater puppies" probably would have landed you on some kind of list. In fact, at 12 years old, I was one of the youngest people ever to have that particular surgery (I was beaten out by an 11-year-old, that bitch).
Maybe if I had stuck it out until the phase of life when breasts are useful, I'd be singing a different tune. But I doubt it, because ...
Big Boobs Can Utterly Destroy a Human Body
I started developing at about 10 years old. That's not that weird -- nobody's comfortable having B-cups in the fourth grade, but it's not exactly Ripley's territory. I was up to a C by fifth grade, and a D by the end of the year, and while I stuck out like a huge boob among my peers, it still wasn't that bad.
But something weird happened in sixth grade. I didn't hit puberty -- puberty hit me. It seemed like I was going up a cup size every few weeks. I come from a family of fairly petite women, and I was petite in all other respects -- about 5 foot tall, 100 pounds and change. Knowing that, and observing her baby daughter quickly morph into The Bloob, my mom was naturally a bit concerned. She took me to the doctor, who was just as concerned (visibly so, which is alarming to see out of any medical professional).
The obvious place to look for an answer was my hormones, which necessitated several trips to have a seemingly impossible amount of blood drained out of my little body. Pages of tests later, it was determined there was nothing wrong with me ("Well, obviously something's wrong with her, just nothing hormonal," my impeccably sensitive doctor corrected). I was a perfectly healthy freak. The answers to our primary questions -- "What the fuck?" and "What do we do?" -- were, respectively, dunno and dunno. On the bright side, I was left with zero fear of needles. Come at me with that shit.
So, right now some young dude is out there thinking this is the story of a young girl who won life's genetic lottery. "Isn't this the equivalent of a boy hitting puberty and realizing he has a 12-inch dong?" Uh, no. A funny thing happens when your bones are literally still forming and you've got giant boulders hanging from your neck: My spine is permanently hooked at the top. This is me standing up as straight as I comfortably can:
Moms of every kind look on in disapproval. When I was in nursing-assistant training, my supervisor was constantly yelling at me to stand up straight, and I wanted to scream, "LOOK, LADY, I WILL STAND AS STRAIGHT AS YOU WANT IF YOU HAND ME SOME OF THAT PERCOCET OVER THERE," but you don't wanna launch into your whole medical history, and also yelling about lifting pain meds in a hospital is probably a bad idea. But standing straighter doesn't actually straighten my spine -- it just forces my rib cage forward, causing my shoulders to turn into blades of pain after just a few minutes, which doesn't feel nearly as awesome as it sounds.
Even after trading the boulders for more manageable snowballs, I'm still suffering. My neck, shoulders, and upper back are in pretty much constant pain. It's just something you get used to. I'm in my 20s, but I feel like an old lady the way I need no fewer than 27 pillows to lounge comfortably on the couch and creak when I stand up. My default position working at my laptop is hunched over like Mr. Burns, and I give it 20 years before I'm typing with my nose, but hopefully by then I'll be able to afford regular massages.
People Have No Problem Slut-Shaming 11-Year-Olds
As you can imagine, my classmates weren't terribly nice to me. Children are monsters to begin with, zooming in on anything that makes you even a little different. And I grew up to be a comedy writer, so it's not like I was ever socially well-adjusted in the first place. What has always puzzled me, though, is the assumption that tons of people make that a well-endowed girl must also be sharing her gifts with half the greater metropolitan area, and people do start forming those ideas even when the subject of their assumption is 11 years old. All kinds of nasty rumors were spread about me, never mind that it was plain to see I was horrifyingly awkward around boys.
I didn't expect the adults to join in, though. During a meeting with my sixth-grade teacher to discuss why my grades had fallen from "Now you're just showing off" to "We've had to start using an entirely different alphabet," I hesitantly opened up about the teasing that played no small part in the problem. In response, this 60-year-old woman said, quite matter-of-factly, "Maybe you wouldn't have such a problem if you didn't wear such tight shirts." I didn't know what to say at the time. I think I just stammered out an objection that the shirt I was wearing -- a perfectly normal T-shirt -- wasn't that tight. It was an embarrassingly long time before I realized that her statement was so many kinds of wrong that it's actually sold at the Wrong Store in Wrongingham, Wrongland, in different shades of wrong. Yes, obviously a literal child was intentionally flaunting her shameful body despite the clear distress it caused, you horror-show of a person.
By seventh grade, I started begging my parents to let me stay home from school more and more often and, thankfully, they understood. One night, a friend talked me into going out to a football game with her. We arrived a little late, so the bleachers were already packed, and as we were walking through them looking for a seat, some kids started throwing pennies at me. Apparently, this was just hilarious, and more people joined in, laughing and calling me a whore. I left in tears and never went back to that school. I just sat out my seventh-grade year and started at a new school the next fall after the surgery. It was all good, though, because it turns out you don't actually learn anything in seventh grade.
Clothes Are Science-Fiction Nightmares
It wasn't long before perfectly normal T-shirts stopped even being an option. Once you've reached a certain circumference -- approximately the time random objects start orbiting your cleavage -- they simply do not make clothes that fit you. After I left school, I think I mainly wore my dad's XXXL flannels, because who cares if I'm cute, I'm not leaving the house. (Keep in mind, this is a 5-foot little girl -- I looked like a toddler playing lumberjack, which is honestly a pretty accurate description of me at every age.) But I had a huge problem with bras. I had no idea what size I was for a long time, because most stores don't stock sizes past DD. The lady at Walmart suggested we try Frederick's, but they didn't go past E, so E it was. For several months, I squished myself into my underwear in much the same way you try to close an overfilled trunk, and I didn't even have the option to sit on it.
Imagine the Casino head-vice scene, only even less safe for work, more cursing, and every day of your life.
Still, I remember thinking I couldn't have been more than a few sizes bigger than E. My mom eventually found out about a specialty lingerie shop several towns over, so we made a day trip to finally find out what fucking size I was. I stood in a dressing room while this 60-year-old woman manhandled me with some measuring tape for what seemed like hours before she announced that I was a 32JJ. (That's about the size of an adult's head. I hear there are plenty of photos on the Internet if you wanna see some examples.)
My mom and I stared at each other in shock while she left to go find some bras in my size. What I still didn't expect, however, was the shape. Remember Madonna's cone bra phase? That should give you a good idea. Once you reach a certain size, the lady explained, the entire structure of the bra changes out of necessity, and it makes you look like you're smuggling torpedoes. I could have put an eye out in that bra.
She and my mom left so I could get dressed, and I sat down and cried and cried. I didn't care about looking attractive or whatever -- I just wanted to look like a kid, not a 1950s sci-fi alien sexbot. It was pretty soon after that that we decided what I needed ...
Next Comes the Boob Tape and Skin Flaying
I don't remember talking to my mom about getting surgery. I think we just wordlessly agreed that it was something that needed to happen. Luckily, I had great insurance, so everything moved along rather swiftly. Standing naked in front of a grown man (and a bunch of medical students, presumably after someone announced that they needed to come see this shit) while he draws on your body with a Sharpie is pretty intimidating for a 12-year-old girl, but my surgeon was a lot more sympathetic than my family doctor. It went off without a hitch, and I was home the next day, hanging out in bed and eating ice cream like I'd had my appendix out.
It's always a big risk to perform this surgery on someone so young, because they're still growing, but luckily I settled at DD over the next few years after being taken down to a C. I remember the weirdest thing was that I could, like, reach in front of myself now. I had pretty much been limited to up-and-down arm motions, and it took a while to stop flailing around like a dork trying to avoid my phantom boobs. (Now I flail around like a dork for entirely unrelated reasons.)
The most important thing to deal with immediately post-surgery, though, is the incision tape. It protects you from infection and keeps scarring to a minimum, but it's like masking tape -- it rubs off so easily, especially when you're flailing around like a dork. The resulting infection meant they had to dig a big chunk of flesh out of each of my new boobs, because I hadn't been through enough already. But it was actually kind of cool. They just do it right there in the office. They lay you down and numb you up and then just hack pieces of your body right off. My scars are particularly gnarly for that reason. Speaking of which ...
You'll Never Be Completely Normal Again
Nobody has awesome long-term decision-making skills when they're 12. The two things that everyone heavily warned me about -- that I would likely have very noticeable scars and trouble breastfeeding in the future -- were the furthest thing from my traumatized preteen mind. When the time came that I found myself very interested in other people's interest in my bathing suit areas, though, I got a side of scar anxiety with the usual order of body-image issues.
The typical pattern of scars resulting from a breast reduction is what they call an "anchor scar," a semicircle around the bottom and then up from the middle to the areola. I also got a bonus prize in the form of a very dark lump of scar tissue about the size of a 50-cent piece on the bottom of each breast from the removal of the infected tissue. As a result, I dread getting naked with a guy for the first time, because "By the way, I've got weird boobs, don't freak out" is a conversation no one enjoys. On the bright side, that scar tissue is totally dead. I can stick a pin in it and not feel a thing. It's a neat trick at parties.
An amazingly short 10 years later, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, and the one week that I attempted to breastfeed her was the most painful and frustrating week of my life. If you imagine normal women as bountiful waterfalls, I was a bathroom faucet that leaked occasionally. I kept trying because the only way to increase production is to feed more, but by the end of the week, my baby had lost a full pound and I wasn't in great shape either. I don't want to get too gross here, but my doctor eventually took me by the shoulders and said, "She's getting more blood than milk." (Which, now that I think about it, explains a lot about my daughter.) I conceded defeat, tired of having that baby on my boob 24 hours a day anyway, and she gulped down that first bottle as if she were starving to death, because she kind of was.
So those things I wasn't worried about at the time ended up mattering a lot. Still, when I think about not having the surgery and weigh the downsides (spinal deformities and medieval underwear) against the upsides (the possibility of a lucrative porn career), I feel like settling for baby formula and a middle-of-the-road porn career has worked out pretty well for me.
You can follow Manna and her boobs on Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out 6 Bizarre Things Nobody Tells You About Weight Loss Surgery and 5 Things You Didn't Know About Smuggling Drugs into Prison.
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