‘Why I’ll show off my breasts if I want’
Have you ever noticed the glare you get when you walk into a room? Not the warm glow of outfit approval, or the admiring eyes of a gentlemen giving you the full up and down appreciatively.
I'm talking about that other feeling. The feeling of judgment, hostility and displacement. It's coming from a female. Usually one with a partner nearby, and more often than not, she is someone you would consider a friend.
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I've had it, I hate it, and I could write a book about it.
LET ME SET THE SCENE FOR YOU
It's a big night for you. When it comes to your diet, you've practically been a nun this week, keeping it strictly healthy. You've avoided any form of food that may leave you bloated, or heaven forbid gassy, to complement your chosen outfit.
The outfit is picked to flatter your body. It hugs your hips in the right place, allows your 'ladies' to sit nicely up high thanks to the new plunge bra you've picked, and you've chosen a colour that sure, may be daring, but looks good on your complexion.
You've spent time on your hair and makeup, and the spritz of expensive perfume may have hurt when you initially handed over the credit card, but the scent has set a mood for you.
YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE FEELING LIKE A MILLION BUCKS
You've dressed to flatter you and to make your feminine energies feel alive.
You're not doing this for anyone but yourself. You want to look how you feel. Like a woman in charge. Sexy. Capable. Aware of her assets and not afraid to show them off - physical or otherwise.
You hop in your Uber, and take yourself off to the ball. I mean … party.
There's no denying that entering a room full of guests can be downright scary. You're arriving single. Again. However, you remind yourself that you're happy within yourself. Pull your shoulders back, put on your biggest smile and try to bring an energy into the room that hopefully is contagious.
You take that first step and you're greeted by beautiful friends who compliment you on your outfit, laugh with you about something that happened recently and introduce you to someone in the group you haven't met before.
Things are going great.
THEN YOU ARE GREETED BY 'THE GIRLS'
These are the friends you once went out with regularly before they met their significant other.
They 'jokingly' make fun of your boobs. 'Oh look, Jana's got her tits out again'. You laugh because you're polite. You laugh because you suddenly feel awkward. You laugh but that tiny bit of self esteem it took to get you out the front door, has crawled back into its cave.
Further comments are made in a sarcastic tone. 'Trying to get yourself a fella tonight Jana?' and 'Babe, you'll take an eye out with those, put them away'. Cue laughter.
Suddenly you feel exposed, and foolish and not part of 'the group'.
You take yourself off to the bathroom and take a long hard look in the mirror. Do I look like a slut? Am I trying too hard to get attention? You start questioning yourself over something that will later feel so trivial, but for tonight, sits on your shoulders like a terrible weight.
Perhaps an allure.
WHY DO WE FEEL THE NEED TO MAKE A WOMAN'S CLEAVAGE THE BUTT OF THE JOKE?
It's 2018 and the need to body shame women is, believe it or not, stronger than ever. What's worse, is when women do this to each other.
One of my closest male friends likes to often quote, "ain't nobody hate a woman, like another woman".
Does he have a point? Why do we latch on to one asset and feel the need to draw everyone's attention to it?
The thought that one comment can reduce a woman to just one body part can drive you mad if you think too much about it.
I studied hard and earnt a place at university. I strived to gain my dream job and I've saved to travel to the most amazing places around the world. I'm not my boobs, they're just something I like.
I've also watched my Aunt sadly pass away from breast cancer, and this past year I've seen my own mum battle with the horrid disease and come out the other side.
So I choose to wear dresses that highlight an asset I like. An asset that I may not have forever.
It's OK to have a body part we're proud of. For some it's their eyes, or their legs, or their large lips.
SO WHY THE NEED TO SHAME PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THIS?
It may seem funny to make a boob pun and get a few chuckles from bystanders, but women with larger assets are battling body shaming on a regular basis.
In the workplace a few years ago, after a trip to Europe, I was asked to show my photos from the holiday. "No, no, not the tourist sights" said a person quite high up in the company, "I want to see the tit shots. The ones of you in a bikini by the pool".
The awkward laughs were shared, and I had a choice to make. Do I laugh along and not kick up a fuss? Or do I call him out, ask him to apologise and potentially be overlooked later for another position because I was 'that bitch who couldn't take a joke?'
I chose the first option.
IN THE WORKPLACE, BUST WOMEN ARE EASY TARGETS FOR HARASSMENT
Elsewhere, big breasts can make dressing for an event hard. If you wear something loose to avoid highlighting your boobs, the fabric tends to hang off them and make you seem larger. If you wear tight fabric around your boobs, you look more cinched in the waist and it forms a more flattering silhouette.
However, this provides the perfect fodder for body shamers.
So what do we do? Hide them and make ourselves invisible?
Hell no! No matter what your size. If you are proud of your breasts, no matter what size they are, it's your right to do whatever you want.
Just be prepared to grow a tougher exterior.
This story originally appeared on whimn.com.au and was reproduced with permission.