Breast Petals: Not My Husband’s Favorite Flower

>> Saturday, June 2, 2007

More than disliking my small boobs, I hate wearing bras.

I'm sure many ample-bosomed, Victoria-Secret-wearing women all over the world Tsk when I say this. Wearing bras is what mature women do. It’s a rite of passage we anxiously await, like getting our first period. But while bras have a purpose and bring about certain pleasures, they’re a hell of a nuisance in our day-to-day lives. And for some of us, bra-wearing is a pointless endeavor.

I remember when I first got my boobs, how excited I was. I looked down as I changed into my nightgown and saw It. Yes, “it” -- because if you didn’t know already, boobs don’t magically appear fully-formed and simultaneously -- at least not for me. I had to coax mine out, one at at time, like nervous little squirrels. They didn’t descend all at once on my body like a bomb as it did with some of my friends. I drank milk, I exercised, and I pleaded with them. Slowly my shy girls peeked out, little by little. Come on, girls. Where are you? Come on out. You can do it.

I coaxed and coaxed until I finally gave up in my mid thirties. See, I had high hopes for pregnancy. It’s rumored that some women get to keep their luscious pregnancy breasts forever. Against scientific evidence to the contrary, I maintained high hopes. But expecting your boobs to stick around once you stop nursing is a little like expecting a perm to curl your hair for the rest of your life. It just ain’t gonna happen. (And if you know otherwise, keep it to yourself. Really, I'm begging you.)

My pregnancy boobs arrived with grace and dignity. When I looked in the mirror, at first I thought I looked more womanly because of the slight bulge at my waist. But the baby-doll shirts I sometimes wore started to heave and curve a little at the top. Just as I thought my load-bearing thighs and swelling face would make me beyond repulsive, my husband found me sexier than ever. These wonder orbs gave my Wonder Bras a purpose and I looked damned good in them.

But while they were great to look at, they were painful to touch; one of life’s bitter ironies. Since we couldn’t play with them as much as we wanted to, I kept them in a display case, so to speak, of tight sweaters and v-neck shirts. Ah, we had fun. Shopping, parties, dancing. Although a tad aloof, these sassy gals knew how to have a good time.

If I could have nursed longer, I would have. Elizabeth and Samantha lost interest in me after 7 months of happy sipping. I pleaded with them. No, please, have some more. Look... yum, yum. I never felt so rejected as each of them turned their heads away seeking outside interests. They wanted to be “independent”; to drink from a bottle on their own; to eat solid foods. The message was clear. We don’t need mommy anymore. Each day, my life-giving, fun-seeking balloons slowly deflated. Damn.

Since then, I’ve pretty much lost interest in my boobs. They betrayed me. My husband tends to them daily and they respond with a wink and a smile. But it seemed nothing could cure their ongoing depression. And strapping a bra around them... what an insult. My pregnancy boobs filled my bras like a joyful party, full of laughter, that eventually spills out onto the lawn. My post-pregnancy boobs echo through my bras like a tenant in an abandoned warehouse. Hello? Anybody in there... there... there?

I put my bras in a far corner of my dresser and exchanged them for camisoles and tank tops. I never liked bras, anyway; tight, awful things digging into my shoulders and ribs. Who needs them? Certainly not me! But summers are still hot, and doubling-up on shirts is not comfortable, either.

My husband was encouraging in a way that wasn’t very helpful. Set them free! he said as a heavenly light cascaded upon him, inspired by a sudden burst of idealism. Why wear bras or tank tops? What’s wrong with your nipples? Bras, what are they good for? Absolutely nothin’, say it again!

Yes, very liberating -- but not gonna happen. Sometime during my adult life, I privatized my nipples. In my twenties it never occurred to me to conceal them. Did I mature during my pregnancy? Become a prude? Who knows. All I know is, when I go to work, I want these babies suppressed.

Another petite-breasted friend of mine and I were exchanging mammary woes one day, and we invented the concept of a device that just covers your nipples; something like a bandaid, but smoother that wouldn’t show through our clothes. Like many great ideas, this one floated out into the Universe and was germinated by Ann Deal, founder of Fashion Forms.

My friend was the first to discover them. Remember that idea we had? I found them! Wanna look? She showed me and we both tee-heed. This was our idea executed perfectly! Gel Petals, as they’re called, are small flower-shaped gels that affix to your breasts. They don’t fall off, you can’t see them under your clothes, and you can’t feel them when you’re wearing them. You can wear your thinnest t-shirt and it looks smooth. Suddenly my girls were happy and motivated. They wanted to go shopping again! Fabulous!

But, alas, with all great fortune, there is a down side.

How can I describe my husband’s face when he first encountered the petals? Surprised? Shocked and disturbed? Horrified? Yes, horrified. Turns out, men hate breast Petals with a fiery passion.

Here’s why. Imagine you’re a man slipping your hand under a woman’s shirt; expecting to feel a woman’s precocious little parts. Instead, your hand goes up... and up... practically to her neck without feeling that pleasant little nub. What the hell happened?!

He’s threatened to hide my Petals. He's begged me to throw them out. I don’t blame him. For a man, it’s like touching a mannequin. It’s unexpected and inhuman for a woman not to have nipples. Let me put it this way: What if you put your hands down your husband’s pants and didn’t find his, uh... package? It’s a little like that.

It’s also weird for Elizabeth and Samantha. A couple of times they noticed my “strange boobs” while watching me undress. "What’s that? What are you wearing?" they ask. Good heavens. What do I tell them? I didn't want to tell them that nipples are "bad" and that when they get to a certain size limit you have to pretend you don't have them so as to not offend anyone. (Which is what we're really talking about here, right? Once again, my husband's ideals echo through me...)

"Well, they’re like boobie-warmers." (Yea, that’s it.) "They keep my boobs warm." (Talk to me later about lying to my children...)

All this means is that I have to be careful. I will slip on my Petals while Michael is in the shower, and I’ll take them off as soon as I get home. I’ll buy them in secret during my lunch breaks, and I won’t leave them out on the table. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. No harm done.

Because there’s one thing I know for sure: I’m not giving up my Petals, man. No way. Right now, my girls are happy. And after all these years, they deserve to be. Say it again!

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