When I was a tween, with tiny titties (believe it or not), I used to stuff my bra – mostly with toilet paper and tissues. I geared up a notch for karate lessons, and yes, socks came into play. C’mon, there were cute guys there, AND fists flying in very close proximity to my bee-stings. I’m sure the entire dojo was pretty aware of this when I arrived with a new set of C-cups, blind. A little cringe-worthy I guess. Even more so when my awkward and nervous first boyfriend found himself with a handful of tissue instead of the glorious bosom he was expecting. Serves him right for only wanting to date a girl with “big boobs” – I don’t know who the joke was on in the end.
The other day in one of my Girls Only WhatsApp groups – which by the way, is the modern gals conference corner – a friend of mine shared how she had almost collapsed into an adjacent changing room while trying to get herself into a pair of body-shaping underwear. A battle I know many of us can relate to. I’m impressed she even bothered to try them on. I’m usually so embarrassed at the task of purchasing such a device, even though like, everybody does it, that I fast track that whole process and head straight to the counter, still wearing my sunglasses. These? Am I sure they are my size? Pfft, oh no these are for my niece/ dog/ primary school teacher/ transvestite uncle. I wake up like this. I am the epitome of a true woman, unashamed of the little bumps and bulges that revolt against the institution we call clothing.
Strange how this doesn’t stop me from trying on a pair of jeans which is the size I am in my head. A good, well-rounded (but not too rounded) 36. Come hell or high water, I am gonna fit into that pair of pants because somehow it’s how I’ve graded myself, or maybe how the world has graded me. Just slightly above the average curve of a “healthy” sized girl. That is 25 minutes of squeezing, squirming and sweating I never get back, plus the extra 15 I need to put the pants back and grab a 38, my actual size, most of the time. It’s moments like that – when you are desperately trying to get those last 10 zipper teeth to shut the fuck up, stop the button which is fiercely keeping that (now) amply filled bra from having its public debut, and convince that stubborn pants button to quite being an asshole - that can literally throw me into a full blown panic attack. Irrational thoughts flood the mind, exposing me more than those disgusting change room lights – I’m gonna pass out. I’m gonna pass out and they will find me here on the floor of this change room with mismatched underwear and a free-at-last fat roll tuning howzit. Or my worst – when my arms are stuck above my head with some boa constrictor of a top wrapped around them, trapping me in a helpless position where I can neither retreat nor forge ahead. Tits for days! I’m going to have to go out there, into the shop where people who actually fit into their clothes exist, with my chesticles dangling out of their enclosure like a pair of ill prepared court jesters, pulled onto stage for an improve set! Cut me out of this motherfucker!
Deep breaths, patience and my double jointed elbow are my only relief in this catastrophe.
But then, once the spanks are a’spanking, and ‘the girls’ find a place they are comfortable perching in (with an extra safety pin fastened in case of an up-and-out rising), well sometimes it all comes together. Damn gurl, you looking good. Even if I’m the only one who knows the struggle it’s taken to get there. Appearances vs reality, it’s an interesting thought isn’t it? What we show to the world, what we make seem effortless and easy, compared to the real journey. The silent army tasked with holding it all in, or all together. Mine deserve fucking medals of honour, salute!
I suppose the same goes for those supports we find to make it seem like everything is smooth sailing in our relationships and other parts of our life. The ones that keep the inner monologue quiet, and the outer one pleasant, well mannered, functional and pleasing to the ear. These are the little soldiers who come at you with a live round the second something raw or uneasy enters your mind and almost exits your mouth. I’m not happy. I’m worried we’ll never get through this. You’re not going to change. I’m not going to change. Those thoughts. The one’s that are too scary and too ugly to let hang out like a pair of untanned, unsupported knockers. I don’t want to be your friend anymore. Your husband is a douche. We don’t have anything in common. I don’t care anymore. No I'm not actually the 'cool-nothing-bothers-me-do-what-you-like' boyfriend/ girlfriend you met all those years ago.
I suppose there is something to weighing up whether the juice is worth ‘the squeeze’. Whether all that panting and hyperventilating in life’s dressing room, what with its bad lighting and bitchy sales people, is worth it for temporary appease, even if it’s not real. Maybe we need that sometimes, we need to feel like everything is fine, fab, great, lovely. But I wonder what would happen if we just let it spill out a little bit over our belts and allowed ourselves to mutter all the muck, all the stingy thoughts and fears and give them up to be absorbed or rejected. If we could sometimes be real, and just say it like it is, (muffin top out in all its splendour, emotional safeguards disarmed) would we free ourselves not only from the tightly elasticated walls around our hearts and bellies, but from a delayed inevitable. At some point, the people that really matter… are going to see you naked.