Breast Mem­oirs

The breast mem­oirs: 12 women from dif­fer­ent walks of life get can­did about their most dis­cussed, revered and politi­cised body part.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents - By Lebo Mashile, Khaya Dlanga and more

As a woman, the promi­nence, shape and struc­ture of my breasts make me feel more fem­i­nine. But as a mother, my breasts are to nour­ish and nur­ture my chil­dren. At the same time, I do feel that my breasts po­si­tion me as a sex­ual sym­bol and a vic­tim. Far too of­ten, women’s breasts are cat­e­gorised as gen­i­talia. They’re per­ceived only as arous­ing ob­jects that stir up sex­ual de­sire for men. This stems from a lack of nor­mal­i­sa­tion. Re­cently, whilst shooting for a show to air later in the year, I had my baby on set with me. He got hun­gry and needed to be fed, but he didn’t want a bot­tle. So I had to breast feed on set, in front of the cam­era. “Con­tinue rolling, try to stay clear of the nip­ple. No nip­ple,” said the di­rec­tor. We con­tin­ued shooting. This left me con­fused, be­cause so­ci­ety will al­ways say, “Breast is best when it comes to the health of a child,” yet in the same breath fol­low up with, “No breasts shown please.” So what am I sup­posed to do? Sub­ject my child to con­stant toi­let cu­bi­cle feed­ing ses­sions? Yuck! I mean, would you eat in the toi­let?” Ol­wethu le­sha­bane, blog­ger and mo­ti­va­tional speaker “My breasts are ab­so­lutely part of my iden­tity! They have char­ac­ter and they’re mine. They’re the com­pan­ions that I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate dearly. I used to hate my boobs be­cause the world told me to. As women, we are taught that we aren’t al­lowed to like our boobs if they don’t ad­here to the ac­cepted beauty stan­dards – which is perky. My boobs are saggy, so I felt it was nec­es­sary to open a much-needed con­ver­sa­tion through the hash­tag I cre­ated called #Sag­gy­boob­s­mat­ter. It’s sad that women with breasts like mine are made to feel em­bar­rassed about them. I re­mem­ber when I was younger, I would say to my mom that I was go­ing to save money to have my boobs done af­ter my 18th birth­day. But I later came to the re­al­i­sa­tion that I don’t want to look back on my late teens and early 20s wish­ing I’d loved my­self more. Now, I feel like I make the conscious ef­fort to wear out­fits that women with smaller breasts get away with. When I put on a deep-plunge or back­less dress that can’t be worn with a bra, I feel em­pow­ered, gor­geous and com­fort­able with my­self. It’s lib­er­at­ing to know that I don’t ex­ist to please any eyes but mine. That’s the en­ergy I’ll con­tinue to live my life with, be­cause I de­serve to feel all the joy when I look at my­self.” Chidera eg­gerue, writer and ac­tivist

“I be­came aware of my breasts once I ar­rived at board­ing school. Be­cause the bath­room was a shared space, we would al­ways un­dress in front of one an­other, and it was there that I no­ticed that the other girls’ breasts were dif­fer­ent to mine – both in size and shape. Where theirs were small and perky, the type you can ex­pect to find on a model, mine were the com­plete op­po­site. I re­mem­ber go­ing home to ask my mother if there was some­thing wrong with me, she said that the breasts I had were a fam­ily trait that I had in­her­ited. Know­ing that this was a char­ac­ter­is­tic that linked me to my rel­a­tives changed how I viewed them. I no longer have any in­se­cu­ri­ties about my breasts, and as a med­i­cal doc­tor, I have seen the full spec­trum of breasts. I do, how­ever, wish that re­tail­ers were more in­clu­sive in their bra sizes. There were cer­tain things I was never able to wear be­cause I was un­able to find a strap­less bra that fit me. It was only once I trav­elled to New York, US, and dis­cov­ered a bou­tique that had an en­tire sec­tion ded­i­cated to curvy, fuller-chested women, that I was able to find one. This has opened me up to so many dif­fer­ent cloth­ing de­signs that I was never able to wear be­fore. SA stores need to get on board, be­cause I know that there are many women who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sim­i­lar is­sues.” dr sindi van zyl, doc­tor

’m a trans­gen­der woman, and I haven’t even had my boobs for a year. When I step out ev­ery­day, I’m faced with so­ci­ety’s ex­pec­ta­tions of how I should look like. My boobs are re­ally small, so if I wear a jer­sey, you wouldn’t be able to see them. I do feel that if I had big­ger boobs then my fem­i­nin­ity and wom­an­hood would not be ques­tioned. Misog­y­nis­tic ideals that dis­card women who have small breasts shows how pa­tri­ar­chal our so­ci­ety still is. You shouldn’t need to have big boobs to be viewed as more fem­i­nine and more de­sir­able. When I walk out the house, the first thing that peo­ple do is look at my gen­i­tals or just stare at my boobs to ver­ify my gen­der, when there is so much more to me than the way I look. I’ll ad­mit to hav­ing used my chest to seek val­i­da­tion, and per­haps to even at­tract in­ter­est from some­one I find at­trac­tive, but that’s only be­cause I see how val­ued breasts are and the re­cep­tion they al­ways get.” glow Makatsi, model and as­pir­ing ac­tress

“My re­la­tion­ship with my boobs has been quite an in­ter­est­ing one. I was 21 when I had a breast re­duc­tion, af­ter giv­ing in to my mother’s pre­vi­ous failed at­tempts to warn me of the in­evitable chronic back­aches I would suf­fer in my later years. Go­ing from an E cup to a small C changed my en­tire life. My chubby girl days faded away as my body moulded it­self to fit my new pro­por­tions. I was sexy! My con­fi­dence was at an all-time high and I found my­self check­ing out that fine girl who passed by the mir­ror re­flec­tion. I no longer had to plan my out­fits in ad­vance, look­ing for the best style of top to hide my gi­nor­mous ‘ladies’, and fi­nally I could now wear strap­less ev­ery­thing! I love all clothes, but would al­ways shy away from styles that would fo­cus on my top-heavy sil­hou­ette. My breasts had never been a topic of con­ver­sa­tion any­where in my cir­cles, be­cause I quickly be­came an ex­pert at hid­ing them in plain sight. Now I feel more me than ever be­fore, and the rest of my body agrees with that.” sitha ken­tane, de­signer “I was blessed with big, full breasts and I never thought any­thing of it be­cause they were al­ways at­tached to me. Like all parts of my anatomy, I con­sider them a bless­ing, so I make do with what I have. Many peo­ple over the years have high­lighted this fea­ture; how big they are, whether they’re real or not and call­ing me sexy be­cause of them. But this is my body. I’ve been pe­tite, full-fig­ured, volup­tuous, mus­cu­lar, curvy and preg­nant. I’ve never tried to be sexy us­ing my boobs, they’re just there, at­tached to me. I feel peo­ple are eas­ily of­fended with who you are and how you look. You can be flat-chested and they’ll have some­thing to say, you can have your boobs en­hanced and they’ll make com­ments, you can have saggy momma tits and you’ll still hear it. Peo­ple are so dis­sat­is­fied with their anatomy that when they see some­one who’s happy with theirs, it blows their mind. You just have to love it all! That’s when what peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions of you don’t even mat­ter. I think so­ci­ety’s ideals of what fit­ness women are meant to look like has shifted as well. I’m here to demon­strate that you can be curvy, fem­i­nine and strong in your D cup!” rushda Moosajee, gym owner and mother

“The foun­da­tion of my re­la­tion­ship with my breasts is deeply rooted in my cul­ture and the women who raised me. These women were so free and happy in their bodies. Grow­ing up in ru­ral kwan­de­bele, Siyabuswa, I fell in love with our be­liefs and our prac­tises. My par­tic­u­lar ob­ses­sion was ukuthomba, a rite of pas­sage for women. Apart from the glo­ri­ous re­galia and ex­pan­sive gifts, I ad­mired the abil­ity to love your­self as you are and the responsibility to pass it on. This con­nected me to my fam­ily and the women around me. But then we moved, pu­berty hit, boys hap­pened, and I got in­tro­duced to a very sex­ual un­der­stand­ing of my breasts and their func­tion. I gained the nick­name ‘Your Hot­ness’ among the boys be­cause I had a solid BLB ( boobs, lips, booty) ra­tio, then it be­came about main­tain­ing that ti­tle. I started dress­ing to en­hance my breasts, mak­ing them look big­ger, more ap­peal­ing, not know­ing that I was mov­ing fur­ther and fur­ther away from

lov­ing my­self. Even­tu­ally, I found free­dom. I stopped wear­ing bras, and al­lowed my­self to just be. I found the courage to love my­self through the dif­fer­ent shapes, phases and sizes be­cause change is in­evitable.” tsholofelo Maseko, ac­tress

“As a young girl, I al­ways imag­ined that my breasts would look ex­actly like my big sis­ter’s: per­fect! Even be­fore I had them, my breasts were a part of who I was. They were a state­ment of my wom­an­hood – at least that’s what I felt they were back then. One can only imag­ine my dis­ap­point­ment when I dis­cov­ered that my ‘girls’ would not grow be­yond a small B cup. Ev­ery­thing I had seen in mag­a­zines and on TV cre­ated the ex­pec­ta­tion of hav­ing ‘per­fect pro­por­tions’. Im­me­di­ately, inse­cu­rity crept in be­cause, ul­ti­mately, I would not have those ‘dreamy’ and ‘per­fect’ pro­por­tions I had set my heart on as a young girl. As I ma­tured and re­alised how mounds of fat and tis­sue on a woman’s chest would af­fect her in­ter­ac­tions with men, I gained a new­found re­spect and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for them. I could wear vir­tu­ally any top I wanted with rea­son­able com­fort and ease be­cause of their size. What I’m most happy about to­day is that bras are op­tional. Now, my wom­an­hood is based on virtues rather than boobs. A maze of pros and cons have led me to the be­lief that my 34Bs are great just as they are.” julie Mathys, lawyer

“My breasts are a sign of com­fort. I touch them through­out the day as they’ve be­come my stress-re­lief toys. But around eight years ago, I found a lump in my right breast and this dra­mat­i­cally changed my re­la­tion­ship with them; my source of com­fort was now fight­ing against me. I re­mem­ber how re­lieved I was when the doc­tor told me that it wasn’t cancer. This was good news, but I still had a painful lump that just wouldn’t go away. It turned out to be fi­broade­noma, a con­di­tion that cre­ates be­nign lumps in the breast tis­sue. Be­cause of this, my breasts tripled in size. When I was younger, I al­ways be­lieved that hav­ing large breasts was a to­tal bless­ing. Now that I have them, they are a com­plete pain. Doc­tors sug­gested surgery, but I chose al­ter­na­tive ways to deal with the pain that the tu­mours caused. Most days I have to re­mind my­self to be thank­ful that it didn’t turn out to be cancer, and that it’s a breast con­di­tion that I can deal with. This ex­pe­ri­ence has given me many rea­sons to love them as they are. Par­tic­u­larly on days when I sim­ply can be with­out a bra, and my boobs are free to do what­ever they wish – bounce, swing and, most im­por­tantly, breathe.” no­lihle Mn­geni, client service con­sul­tant

“I’ve al­ways been curvy, which I em­brace, but there has def­i­nitely been a time in my life where I felt my body was un­bal­anced, so I de­cided to do some­thing about it. In Oc­to­ber of 2012, I had a breast aug­men­ta­tion in or­der to bal­ance out the size of my hips and thighs, and achieve a more hour glass fig­ure in­spired by the likes of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Dita Von Teese. I’m pretty open about the fact that I had my breasts done, I’ve never been ashamed of what I did and I’m happy with the re­sults. It was some­thing I did for my­self to feel more com­fort­able and con­fi­dent. On the other hand, there are things that I didn’t think about. For in­stance, I can’t just wear what­ever I want any­more, but­tons don’t agree with me and I strug­gle with siz­ing. I think there is pres­sure in my in­dus­try to look a cer­tain way, and work­ing with mod­els def­i­nitely makes me aware of the ap­peal and saleabil­ity of a cer­tain body type. I’m the ex­act op­po­site of this, so you can only imag­ine my sur­prise when, one day, a model came up to me to say that I have the body of her dreams. I guess it’s the age-old sce­nario of want­ing what you don’t have.” raine tauber, makeup artist

y breasts are a sym­bol of wom­an­hood and fer­til­ity. They’ve also helped me to feed and bond with both my chil­dren. But so­ci­ety shapes how we as women see our bodies. For ex­am­ple, our bodies are used to sell ev­ery prod­uct imag­in­able, and only cer­tain breasts are per­ceived as beau­ti­ful – perky, young and big. We’re rarely shown images of real breasts, un­less they’re be­ing made fun of. This has made me feel very in­se­cure, es­pe­cially af­ter hav­ing kids, as I never felt like my breasts were ‘right’. Now, I’ve learnt how a good bra can com­pletely change your per­cep­tion about your breasts. The right bras al­low you to ex­er­cise, wear strap­less dresses and en­joy fash­ion with­out fear of be­ing re­stricted. Thank­fully, my breasts have never been a fac­tor in my work, but I also re­alise that this is a priv­i­lege, since many women in the arts, me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try are rou­tinely sex­u­ally ex­ploited and ha­rassed in dif­fer­ent ways. Breasts are a beau­ti­fully-rich metaphor – one that I’ve used be­fore in my writ­ing. They rep­re­sent the heart, ba­bies, sex­u­al­ity, fer­til­ity, fem­i­nin­ity, giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing. I hope it will con­tinue to stay this way.” lebo Mashile, ac­tress and poet

“The con­text of fash­ion and modelling has never made me feel like the vis­i­bil­ity of my boobs was gra­tu­itous or in­ap­pro­pri­ate. There was this one time though, when a local news­pa­per pub­lished an ar­ti­cle on the suc­cess of a run­way show I’d been in abroad, and ac­com­pa­ny­ing it was a full-page, colour pho­to­graph of me in a com­pletely sheer jacket with noth­ing un­der­neath. The im­age it­self was one of my favourites, but there was some­thing about it be­ing in the news­pa­per that made me ques­tion if the nu­dity was 100% nec­es­sary. Imag­in­ing some of the peo­ple I know see­ing it made me more shy than usual, be­cause there are a lot of peo­ple in my life that aren’t as fa­mil­iar with the fash­ion world and it’s norms. Bar­ring this one in­stance, I’m not ter­ri­bly boob-shy, and I’ve never been made to ques­tion whether my breasts be­ing ex­posed was con­tribut­ing to the suc­cess of the over­all idea.” nina Mil­ner, model

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.