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Accepting the Body I Cannot Change

August 21, 2015

This is a sensitive topic for me and I hesitated even sharing it as a post. But I remembered this is my personal space, and the place I feel most comfortable sharing my thoughts. And further, it’s a post that I feel is important to talk about and will (hopefully) resonate with other women and moms out there.

My entire life, I’ve hated the fact that my bust has always been on the bigger size. I didn’t eat my way into a large bra size. I was “blessed” with these genetics.

[Side Note: I’m not using the anatomically proper body terms or slang in this post to avoid spammers.]

I know some of you are thinking, “Are you kidding? What a great problem to have!” Well it’s really not — it’s incredibly frustrating!

The first time I remember feeling depressed about my upper body size was as a teenager, when I found in a boutique store the most beautiful coral-colored sleeveless top with multi-colored embroidery on the collar. I loved this shirt and wanted it more than any other piece of clothing. But it was too small on top. And back in those days, it was “what you see is what you get.” There was no Internet to find another size online. I was so sad at the thought of not getting that shirt that I bought it anyway and used a wide belt to flatten my chest in order to wear it. Doing this at 13-years-old was extremely depressing. Eventually I got rid of the shirt because of the shame I felt.

Even today, it’s hard to be that person with a large chest. Difficult is an understatement when shopping for shirts and dresses because you always have to look at the large sizes. So even if the rest of your body is not an XL, you’ll always end up in the XL or XXL section for tops. I really don’t care what the labels read, but what I hate is that larger sizes mean less variety. Not to mention the fact that even if you find a XL top that “fits,” it still may look look like crap on you (because shirts aren’t typically designed for the larger endowed).

You also have to spend quite a bit of cash on a decent bra that fits and flatters. Let’s not even start with bathing suits! You don’t want to know how much coin I spent to find a flattering swimsuit this summer. Simply dropping in to Target or Old Navy and finding a suit off the rack is not a possibility. And trying to run or jog with a large bust doesn’t work well unless you’re wearing multiple sports bras (and even that’s not a guarantee).

There are people with this situation that have undergone breast reduction surgery. That’s not an option for me because: 1) It’s super expensive and I’m not willing to go into financial debt for my body (and insurance very rarely covers the procedure unless there’s an underlying medical condition); and 2) The risk and fear of surgery is too scary for me. I hoped beyond hope I would be one of those women whose chest got smaller after having a baby; the opposite happened for me.

body image

All of this said, the reason I’m writing this post is because of this photo.

I had a moment of acceptance of my upper body a few months ago. Sophie and I were shopping for dresses for an upcoming wedding. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a decent dress that fit my upper body, and I was holding back tears by the time I got to the dress in the above photo.

Yet when I looked at the photo, all I could see was that little girl behind me, looking up at me smiling. I have no idea why she was grinning. But it struck me that it didn’t matter how I viewed myself or how much I hated my chest. All that mattered was that I’m alive, healthy and have a daughter (and husband too) who loves me no matter what.

Ever since that moment, I’ve come to accept my body for what it is (it only took almost 40 years!). Do I still wish I had a smaller bust? Absolutely! But I no longer feel the same anger and frustration I did before. This is who I am, and (for the most part) I like myself and I guess my kid does too! And really, what more could I ask for?!

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2015 4:02 am

    Well I hope you bought that dress because it looks great on you. Your post is well put in every way. I am amazed when I hear /read what people do to change their bodies. Everyone has something they could change– but accepting how we are is much less stressful! Good for you! Enjoy life!

    • Leah permalink*
      August 21, 2015 9:41 am

      Thank you, Lisa! Yeah, as much as there are things I would change with my body, I just can’t go the surgery route. It’s like I feel deep down it’s not meant to be changed. Accepting is a much better option than debt and anger. Thanks for the compliment on the dress too!

  2. August 21, 2015 7:27 am

    amazing! love this! It takes many people far longer than this – one of my earliest memories is my mom complaining about her chest (too small) – my daughter just said something about how my mom was complaining about how she was too fluffy….. my daughter also asked me if I was not eating bread to ‘make sure you don’t get too fat because you are always on a diet?” and it hit me hard. I have had body issues forever (I cannot think of a time in my teen – adult life that I havent been wanting to lose at least 5 pounds – including when I probably needed to gain 10) – but I try to avoid talking about it in front of my kids and at least trying to change the language. I’ve been working harder at it since my daughter is obviously aware. You are an encouragement – oh and you look so great in that dress!

    • Leah permalink*
      August 21, 2015 9:40 am

      Kate, thanks so much for your comment! Having kids (daughters even more, I think) really make us look in the mirror at what we do and say. I try to be really careful about talking about food and weight with Sophie because of those issues. I appreciate your words. And thanks for the compliment on the dress too!

  3. August 21, 2015 9:04 am

    Leah–you look wonderful in that dress! I hope you bought it too! But thank you so much for sharing this very personal moment and all that came before it. I have had years of self-loathing about my height or my nose or my weight or my hips and onward. While I don’t profess it completely going away, I am much more comfortable in my skin. Our bodies are amazing when we think on it. They endure stress, and births, and go lengths during times of need, and help us to live our personal dreams. What a great gift of life! Thank you!

    • Leah permalink*
      August 21, 2015 9:38 am

      Thank you so much, Lesley! And you are so right that our bodies can do amazing things for us. We should appreciate them more than we do. And I did buy the dress.

  4. August 21, 2015 11:39 am

    This was so interesting for me to read having the opposite situation myself. Thank you for sharing!

    • Leah permalink*
      August 21, 2015 12:01 pm

      I think body image is something everyone can relate to. Whether we have a large chest or small one, we are all self-conscious of something or other. Thank so much for reading and commenting!

  5. August 21, 2015 11:58 am

    I love the picture! I have gone through most of my life hating my figure; I developed very young and my classmates were merciless. It’s amazing how much of our own self-worth is wrapped up and others’ low self-worth. Thank you for a very thoughtful article, oh, and you rock the dress!

    • Leah permalink*
      August 21, 2015 12:02 pm

      Thanks so much, Mélanie! That is SO true about how we get ourselves wrapped up in what others think. I’m trying so hard to make sure Sophie doesn’t do that and also doesn’t judge others for physical appearances. I feel like if that’s one thing I can do as a parent, I’ve succeeded!

  6. August 21, 2015 12:52 pm

    Thank you for bravely sharing this story with us. I love that you were able to make such a complete shift seeing yourself through the loving, happy, smiling face of Sophie! The adoring eyes of love. What a great reminder to us all.

    • Leah permalink*
      August 24, 2015 9:54 pm

      Thanks, Kim! I forget how kids can be such a reminder of what’s truly important in life.

  7. August 22, 2015 11:32 am

    Beautiful– YOU and this post!

    • Leah permalink*
      August 24, 2015 9:55 pm

      Thanks, Nina! And thank you for reading and commenting!

  8. August 24, 2015 6:28 pm

    I loved this post, too, Leah. So brave of you to write it. I’m always amazed at how critical others can be of body parts that aren’t even their own. My husband has a friend whose wife is ALWAYS commenting on everyone else’s chest size. She, herself, had implants put in and is constantly talking about other women and their large breasts — “See, look at Holly’s rack”, implying (I think), that I — and others –need to have augmentation. I’m finally quite comfortable in my skin and I simply fail to respond to her idiotic comments. I am the size I am, and every size has its advantages and disadvantages. You are beautiful Leah, and stunning in your little black dress.

    • Leah permalink*
      August 24, 2015 9:56 pm

      Thank you so much, Melissa! It’s so true how critical people are of each other. I think you have the right idea to just ignore that person’s comments and be comfortable in your own skin. That’s what’s really important in life!

  9. September 3, 2015 10:17 pm

    I can relate to all of this. I’m so happy that you’ve reached acceptance. I’m just not there yet and often find myself self-hating over everything. In fact, Megan asked me earlier this week to name one thing I like about myself and I couldn’t name one. It’s been a real struggle for me and one this is becoming worse as I get older.

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