Weirdly Shaped and Well Photographed

… a blog about clothing for curves, bras for giant boobs (and tiny backs!), and escaping the scourge of the dreaded BoobLoaf and ButtChest.

The Modesty Panel: On Looking Away.

| 31 Comments

Hello there, gentle readers!  I know I have been neglecting you recently, and for that I apologize.  I will have a post up tomorrow explaining what has been going on and all that is in store (so much!) as I get back to a normal schedule this week, but first, I had to get this up.  You see, I recently joined a fabulous group called the Bosom Bloggers, and last week we held a sort of online round-table discussion about the issue of modesty, which we’d all been meaning to talk about but had never gotten around to.  A bunch of us agreed to post our thoughts between the 13th and 17th of May, and to call the group of posts The Modesty Panel.  Obviously I missed the deadline, but better late than never, right?  The other bloggers all have great posts written, and I’ve linked to each at the end of this post.  Please take some time to read through them if you are interested in this topic; their experiences and backgrounds are extremely varied, and they have diverse opinions and ways of expressing themselves that are well worth exploring.

In the meantime, I really hope you enjoy my thoughts here.  Please be advised that this post contains strong language, hearty feminist sentiment, and references to body parts that some might consider inappropriate for younger audiences (or for themselves, if they are particularly conservative).  It also may be a little bit trigger-y on issues of bullying, body image problems and shaming, and sexual assault, so please read with caution if these issues might bring you any discomfort.  I also wish to say up front that I am not an expert on any of the issues discussed herein, and that I apologize if any of this comes across as hetero-normative.  I also regret that this piece does not discuss LGBTQ issues and particularly does not discuss the difficulties trans individuals face with regards to dress, which are tremendous.  I do not feel qualified to speak on those issues, but I am looking into getting some resources together to link to as an appendix at some point.  This is written from my perspective as a heterosexual cis-gendered white woman, and I don’t claim to have written something with as much intersectional perspective as I would have liked to.  Still, I hope that it can resonate with and be helpful to some of you.

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When I first heard about the Modesty Panel a while ago, my main thought was just that I enjoyed taking part in discussion with the always engaging Bosom Bloggers, and that I knew some of my readers were interested in the topic, so why not? As the week approached, though, I realized that taking on my feelings about modesty was no light endeavor. I count myself as a feminist, and the issue of how women’s bodies are perceived and the judgements placed upon how we adorn them is thorny for me. I also have a long and storied past of my own struggles to decide what style of clothing was right for me, and of being oft derided, dismissed, preyed upon, or just cast in an inaccurate light because of it. I fiercely believe in individual liberties (of all sorts, for people of all genders, races, sexualities, economic statuses, etc.), and I find the idea that someone else’s inability or lack of desire to control the reactions of their hormones and genitalia should limit one’s own choices of dress offensive and outrageous. I’m a moral relativist, with the deciding factor in my ethical reasonings based on the causation of harm. If it genuinely hurts someone and is unnecessary, don’t do it. Obviously there is a lot of grey area there, but the root is that the balance in any situation should be on the side of not causing suffering. I don’t consider being offended due to an arbitrary set of social norms or religious mores to be suffering, and therefore have no desire to curtail my clothing habits on anyone else’s behalf. I find the idea that one person’s dislike for another’s choices should be cause enough to limit said choices repugnant. And so. Modesty.

I am, as should be obvious to all of you, gentle readers, not very modest. I would say I am almost entirely lacking in modesty, to the point of feeling pretty sure that I am the farthest on this end of the spectrum of all the Bosom Bloggers. I absolutely support the choice of any woman to dress modestly for whatever reason she likes, and encourage all my readers, no matter what they prefer personally and whatever reasons they have for doing so, to support the clothing choices of every one else. But yes. I like to show some skin now and again. I grew up mainly living with my mother, a true hippie who wandered around in the buff often enough that I nicknamed her [NameRedacted] the Naked, and for a while we had nudist neighbors who were dear friends and were frequently spotted in their birthday suits in the backyard or unclothed in the doorway, looking to borrow a cup of sugar or the like. No, I didn’t live on a commune or something. This was in the heart of a city.  Sometimes you just find places like that.

Anyway, nudity and bodies in general just didn’t seem like a big deal to me as a child, and it wasn’t until puberty hit rather unexpectedly (at the ripe old age of eight, as I recall) that bodies, and *my* body in particular, gave me occasion for pause. I admit it was only in retrospect that I understood the first gasps of the interest in me that were bubbling under the surface of the elementary school social scene, evidenced by requests that I jump up and down (which I did, because who doesn’t love jumping?) and other such things. By fifth grade, though, the taunting and questioning was in full swing. I remember someone I had im the past considered to be a friend being the ringleader of a group of kids intent on getting me to admit to stuffing my bra, the irony being that I was still refusing to wear a bra at that point because I was in denial about my rapidly changing physique. There is a video somewhere of me at a school concert running up to my parents, newly formed and oddly pointy breasts bouncing wildly enough I’m surprised they didn’t shake the rafters.* Watching it recently made me intensely sad and somewhat mortified. I also remember trying to push my nipples back into my body every day, and taking my parents razors to shave my nether regions. I can still distinctly feel the horror with which I regarded my ten-year-old body, alien to me and a target to my friends.

*Disclaimer: My mother was trying to buy me bras, and I would apparently literally run out of the store when she wasn’t looking. So it’s not her fault at all.

Sixth grade (age 11) meant a new school, and as it was in a different school-zone than my elementary school, entirely new classmates. It also meant gym class, which required changing into uniforms in locker rooms with all the other girls. Because of this, all the girls were getting bras, which meant I finally ended up feeling like I needed a bra. For those of you who don’t know, my bra size now is approximately 28K in UK sizing, and my ribcage measures about 27 inches. I was of course smaller then. The first bra I wore was a 34C, courtesy of K-Mart. Based on that, my guess is that I would have needed a 26-band if I had been properly fitted, which means that I entered middle school at age 11, probably needing a 26F bra. Think about that. Think about an eleven year old child with 26F breasts and no idea what that meant in the world. Think about what it’s like to go into middle school, especially in a new place, and to navigate through the murky waters of the adolescent social scene. And what is it hard to be in those terrifying depths? Different.

Having breasts and curves is not the sort of different you can hide easily. You can try – and oh, did I try, wearing large men’s sized shirts and slouching weirdly from the middle of my back in a way that caused posture issues I struggle with to this day – but ultimately, especially on a relatively small frame, people will see that you have Big Boobies. The reactions ranged from the continuation of accusations – “You stuff your bra!” “You walk on purpose in a way to make your boobs jiggle more!” etc. – to the assumption that I was a slut, to the (completely bizarre to me to this day) feeling that my breasts were somehow public property, to be commented on and even touched by people as they pleased. I remember being asked how I walked without falling over. I remember men on the street following me in cars as I walked in my neighborhood, offering me rides. I remember being in my room with a classmate who told me if I moved it meant I wanted him to touch me, and being poked at by him till I moved involuntarily, and I remember bruises the size of ping pong balls on my breasts the next day. It was not because I dressed immodestly. It was because my body has been, since adolescence, undeniably exaggerated in the areas considered sexual by most people, and apparently that gave them the right to sexualize me, even though I was a CHILD. I was a child.

My mother tells me stories – familiar as most of this probably is to those of you who developed early – of being harassed by school staff for dress code violations despite wearing nothing the other girls weren’t.1 I believe she had to threaten to sue them for sexual harassment before they stopped, and that they literally instituted a new rule in the dress code the following year to make sure they could better enforce their body-shaming, bullshit “standards of decency” without being sued for “correcting” girls with bodies like mine. Because modesty isn’t just one standard – it’s a policing of women’s bodies that goes right to the individual. It’s saying that because my body type produces desire, or jealousy, or discomfort, or *whatever* in you, I should have to cover it up, disguise it, alter it, distract from it, change the way I move it, change the way I interact with the world… For your benefit. NOT for my benefit. Not for my comfort, or my sense of who I am as an individual in a world full of beautiful individuals with beautiful bodies all their own whose experiences I don’t know and wouldn’t presume to quantify.2

I refuse.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Going back into my middle school memories has been tough, but I will say that things got better. Somehow – and I’m honestly not sure how I made this transition or I would write more about it – I managed to become easy going about my figure, to be the first to make the jokes, to be sassy and outspoken about pretty much everything (this had already been the works for a while), and, in doing all of this, I largely took the power back. Yes, my breasts were still the focus of undue amounts of attention and yes, my identity in most people’s minds seemed to be tied inexorably to my bust size, but at least I at that point felt like I was in on the joke, and that a lot of it was on my own terms, or at least being framed in my own way. It also led to some of the girls in my class coming to me for advice about their own bodies and their budding feelings of sexuality, and I took it upon myself to become as educated as I could and to help them, which began a lifelong love of sharing sex- and body- positivity. Is it okay that at age 13 my choices were to hide and be harassed constantly or to be the narrator of my own movie, The Girl With Giant Boobs? No. There should have been a third option. Still, I am glad that I chose the latter, and that it worked for me. It doesn’t for everyone.

Me, in high school:

I’m going to leave off the direct personal narrative here, but my intention in including it so far has been to provide you for the setting in which my views on the body as the object of the gaze were formed, and that in doing so, the way my views on modesty have developed might be made more clear. Becky W. Thompson has said “Embodiment that allows a person to know where his or her own body stops and another’s physical body begins may be at the root of a person’s capacity to know him/herself as simultaneously unique and connected to the world.”3 In that way, I lost myself – there was no more private Miss Shapen, and that sense has stuck with me through adulthood in a way that makes me uneasy, unsure of how I would feel now about my body and the way I want others to interact with it had I not made those choices so long ago. I know no other way to feel now, and while I don’t dislike the way I comport myself, I do dislike not knowing if it is a natural outcome of my personality or a continued response to early torment and lack of control.

So yes, let’s fast-forward through high school and college, during both of which my breasts were a running gag and personal space basically didn’t exist (in my last high school yearbook, one guy wrote that he took pride in being “the only person in our class who hasn’t touched [your] boobs,” and it wasn’t meant as any sort of slut-shaming at me, just a commentary on the way things were); through the birthday surprise video at 18 where one of my friends’ secret message to me was “all my friends know you as the girl with the big tits;” through dressing to hide them, dressing to show them off, and everything in between; through more accusations about the way I dressed and one boyfriend who complained that I didn’t dress sexily enough(?! “You can be kind of attractive when you try, but you just look dumb in that.”); through the disrespecting of my physical boundaries that I will refrain from speaking of in detail here… Through all kinds of things. All about my boobs, parts of me that I didn’t choose and couldn’t get rid of if I wanted to, and parts of me that, to bring things back around to the topic at hand, never stopped being focused on no matter what I wore. My style has been all over the place. Dressing more modestly and sometimes not taking any time at all with my appearance whatsoever never stopped people from feeling like they needed to personally interact with my breasts, be it through leering, “accidentally” brushing up against them, bragging about having touched them after breaking up with me (that was a special time), talking about them loudly within earshot of me, making comments to and catcalling at me, offering unsolicited and often wildly inaccurate advice on how I could dress better to hide them, etc. Perhaps for someone with a figure other than mine, dressing modestly would change things. For me, on the fundamental levels of how the world chooses to see and interact with me, it doesn’t. And I am awfully tired of caring.

The truth is, if I wear an even slightly low-cut top, I get cleavage that people stare at, and it looks like I have huge boobs. But you know what else? When I wear a really high necked top, they look *even bigger.* It’s what I call boobloaf, that vast uniboob expanse between waist and neck that the high-necklined tops give most of the time. Are there tops that have enough room for my boobs, nip in at the waist, and provide JUST the right necklines to achieve the least of both of these looks? Sure. But they’re few and far between, and usually expensive. Usually things big enough to fit my boobs that aren’t fitted hang off me and add thirty pounds to my frame, but heaven forbid I wear something stretchy and tight that shows off my figure – someone might think I were slutty! (Because that would be their business obviously, and of course it’s not solely a woman’s own concern how many people she chooses to be with over any given amount of time.) Sometimes (often!) I want to wear a goddamn T-shirt and jeans. From Target. With a messy pony-tail and a goofy grin and whatever the hell else I want, and it should be fine. Even if the top fits like a second skin, or has a deep V-neck, because that’s what was on sale or what didn’t need to go in the laundry or maybe, just maybe, because that’s what I feel like wearing that day. I don’t even mind your peeking some extra glances at my tits, because hell, I know I would. They’re gigantic! It’s surprising, if nothing else. I don’t fault people for feeling like the way I dress might be attention getting.  But here’s the thing:
The fact that I have your attention does not mean I am desperate for it, and the fact that you want my attention does not mean you are entitled to it.

You can look at me appreciatively without leering.

You can desire me without acting on it.

You can appreciate my figure without commenting on it.
You can notice that I am sexy and not assume that I have no other qualities worth noticing.

You can see that I am a woman and not feel the need to control me.

You can guess that I might be fun to have sex with and not think that I am good for nothing else.

You can see me and feel threatened/titillated/offended/whatever by my amount of cleavage and still know that you don’t get to dictate my life choices.

You can realize that it is your right to be offended by my style but not your right to demand that I change it.

Look away if you have to. This is my body, and these are my clothes, and whatever I choose to do with them is my affair. It is intended neither to affront you nor compel you, but if it does, you are in control of your response to that. Look away, tell your mother about it in hushed tones later this evening, wank to your memory of it, whatever, but leave me out of it. I accept well-meaning and non-lewd compliments – limited to one if you are a stranger – and that’s about it. The rest is your business, and how I dress is mine. And really, it’s not my clothing that’s immodest anyway; it’s my body itself. The same tank-top on a smaller chested women would be fine, but on me, it’s indecent. What is really being said, then, is that my body itself is indecent. That showing the shape that I have is indecent, because that shape specifically might cause sexual thoughts in someone, and We Just Can’t Have That. But I won’t hide myself. My body isn’t just decent, it’s a work of art. There are curves all over it, lovely ones – the small of my back, the intake at my waist, the slopes of calves and thighs, the breasts and butt out of a Renaissance painting… It’s all curves. And I like them. These last few sentences bely the sometimes serious body image issues I have at times, mostly related to weight and such, but even when I am at my most self-critical, I love the curves. And nobody gets to tell me, or any women for that matter, that our bodies are indecent. It’s sexist, cruel, and selfish, and it causes life-long issues of shame and self-loathing for many people, in addition to limiting how free they feel to express themselves.

In closing, I am not a penis receptacle, nor a penis deflector. I am not in competition with other women, nor am I here to be a temptress for men. It is not my job to help you police your genitalia, or to curb your insecurities (although I would so love to help you conquer them!), or to feel bad about or ashamed of myself so that you can feel good about yourself (I think you’re beautiful, and I want you to, too!). I am not going to cover myself because you think I should, or because your religion tells you I’m a sinner, or because your political party thinks I am inviting sexual assault just by not obscuring the shape I grew into. I spent my childhood hiding from my body and trying to will and force it to not be what it is, my adolescence and young adulthood not knowing how to protect it and not even having a concept of what I wanted to do with it and have done to it, and now is my time to enjoy it, free of judgement or double-standard social constructs of decency.

So look away if you have to.

Look away.

*****
Me, nowadays.  Some days I’m all sexified.  Some days I’m not.  And that’s fine.

*****

1This sort of thing is actually pretty common, and is certainly still going on today. Please see this article about the disgusting way the dress code at Stuyvesant High School in New York is being carried out: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/05/28/students-at-stuyvesant-take-issue-with-dress-code/. Here is an excellent quote from the article: “the Stuy dress code enforcers also appear to fall into a common problem with dress codes generally — defining an “appropriate” body. As the students quoted in the Times article implied, some of them technically met the dress code but were still told they were “inappropriate,” not because of what they were wearing, but because of how it looked on them. I don’t know what those students look like, but I’m going to guess it comes down to boobs and butts. Flesh is what’s often considered “inappropriate” — B-cup boobs in a turtleneck are fine, but double-Ds are not; straight hips in a pencil skirt are fine, but curvy ones are not. It’s the body that’s being policed, not the clothes.” I found this after having finished my piece, or I probably would have worked this into the body of the text. Alas. Same thing with the post in the next footnote.

2 There is a post that I found to be excellent at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2012/12/modesty-body-policing-and-rape-culture-connecting-the-dots/. This article comes at the issue from a specifically religious perspective (and I actually originally found it through Boosaurus’ lovely piece for the Modesty Panel; she comes from a religious background and her post is a great read for a take on this subject from an entirely opposite upbringing from mine), but the author and I have nearly identical takes on the Modesty as Body Policing side of things, and she writes about it more eloquently and in more depth. Highly recommended.


3 Thompson, Becky W. A Hunger So Wide and So Deep: A Multi-Racial View of Women’s Eating Problems. Minneapolis/London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994

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Other Modesty Panel Posts from The Bosom Bloggers
Ordered by blog title. 
  • Thank you for posting this. I appreciate your perspective, and can’t wait to find time to read the other links you included.

  • Loved this so much….

  • Thanks for this post. I’ve found these Modesty Panel articles to be smartly written, that just goes to show that women with larger-than-average busts are most definitely more than what society seems to imply.

  • Meg

    Awesome! Those statements in bold type should be a meme.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story!!

  • Oh my God I love you for writing this. Seriously, this relates so much to me, I actually felt moved by what you’d written (hopes that doesn’t sound creepy). I grew up from a similar background (very liberal, family would walk around in their underwear/undressed and no one cared) and never saw any problems with it, and when I got to high school was bullied mercilessly for my shape. Specifically my boobs. They must be stuffed, I’m asking for attention, oh look boobs that means I can touch them, and loads of other stuff. It was horrible. I even had teachers comment “she’s a very shapely young woman, sometimes boys are rude to attractive girls” as if that somehow made it okay? It’s not okay. Ever.

    I’m not going to go on about my life story, but I came to the same conclusion as you and joke about being “the one with the boobs” and I’m fine with it, and I’ll wear what I like and it’s none of your business. Don’t like it, well that’s fine you’re not the one wearing it. But for a while I really struggled with the psychological scars it left. I still to this day suffer from anxiety problems because of it.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I wish I’d taken part in the Modesty Panel now, although mine would have pretty much been a clone of this :p

  • ” I accept well-meaning and non-lewd compliments – limited to one if you are a stranger – and that’s about it. The rest is your business, and how I dress is mine. And really, it’s not my clothing that’s immodest anyway; it’s my body itself. The same tank-top on a smaller chested women would be fine, but on me, it’s indecent. What is really being said, then, is that my body itself is indecent. That showing the shape that I have is indecent, because that shape specifically might cause sexual thoughts in someone, and We Just Can’t Have That. But I won’t hide myself. My body isn’t just decent, it’s a work of art. There are curves all over it, lovely ones – the small of my back, the intake at my waist, the slopes of calves and thighs, the breasts and butt out of a Renaissance painting… It’s all curves. And I like them.”

    Yes. That. Exactly that. Too bad it won’t fit on a t-shirt.

  • It’s so great that you get back to your writing and I love your post Zoë !!!!!
    You are a very strong woman.

  • The exact same thing happened to me in middle school, only replace boobs with butt. I am a curvy girl, not as epically curvy as my friend Zoe, but definite hourglassy. However, while I was blooming in middle school, my butt was the star of the show. I got it all.

    “Hey, Tami, why do you walk with your butt sticking out?” with a gross imitation of my “walk”. Chest squared back, spine arched, and their meager rumps stuck out as far as they could, as they waddled from place to place laughing at me. I actually tried to “slump my rump”, as if you could even do so. My nickname was T-Lo. They often slapped my ass, or asked me what I was eating, or “why I was trying to be black.” I’m half-Filipino and half-Caucasian. As if I could even TRY to be a Black stereotype.

    My chest caught up to my hips in the 8th grade. And then I got it, “Are you a lesbian/slut/rap girl? Why are you dressing slutty? Why are you such a slut?” All. From. Women.

    The boys never once sexualized me or degraded me. It was all girls. Girls are the worst at slut-shaming when you are a kid I think. We as a generation are fed the rape-culture and slutshaming as a kid, and I feel like women are the worst at it for the inherent competitive nature that is developed by rape culture.

    Of course, when I got to highschool, the slut-shaming continued, but now by both genders. I was a social outcast, because I began to react violently to combat it. I became the biggest uber-violent bitch to combat it, and finally, people left me alone.

    But then I lost my friends too.

    It’s horrible the things you go through when your body is effectively and culturally “public property.” Just a month or two ago, some random guy asked me if he could take a picture of my ass.

    I refuse to be modest and I refuse to take shit from assholes who don’t get it. My body is mine. If I want to flaunt it, prostitute it, destroy it, save it, work it out, hide it, trim it down, fatten it up, or not care about it, I can. It’s mine.

    So, fuck off.

    I love you, Zoe.

  • Thank you, April! I appreciate your taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoyed/are enjoying the links to the other posts! There is a lot of great stuff posted.

  • Thank you so very much. It was difficult to write, but has proven to be very worth it.

  • Thank you for reading! I am often amazed at how many people think breast and brain size are inversely proportional. My busty/bra-fitting blogger friends are some of the most intelligent (and often delightfully nerdy) people I know.

  • Thanks, Meg! At one point in my struggle to write all this, I considered making the bold statements the entirety of the entry, but I realized there are probably some young women out there right now going through similar things, and I wanted to help them see that they aren’t alone and it isn’t their fault. I was thisclose, though! It sure would be rad if they were a meme, not gonna lie…

  • It was very much my pleasure (well, once I had finally gotten it posted, heh). Thank you so very much for reading.

  • Thank you so, so much for reading and for sharing some of your history here. A lot of busty women have related to me (mostly privately) that they had similar experiences growing up, and several of the other Modesty Panel posts relay the same. I really think it’s important for those who are willing to share their stories, as the only way to stop this from continuing in perpetuity is to give voice to the effects this has on us and to the glaring reality of the discrimination and bullying that results from the way curvy bodies are viewed.

    I applaud you for getting through it and coming out the other side the fabulous woman you are, and I hope the anxiety lets up more and more till one day it is gone, although I know how hard it is to shake. I certainly haven’t entirely managed.

    If you decide you DO want to write on modesty, I don’t think you need to be an official part of the Modesty Panel for your voice to be a valuable part of the conversation and addition to the blogosphere. I would be happy to read and link to it if you end up writing one.

    Thanks again.

  • Thank you so much. And…

    It would if the entire tee were covered in text… And I’m kind of tempted now. Heh.

  • Thank you! I don’t always feel that way, but I am trying every day to get there.I really appreciate your support.

  • And I you. Also, thank you. Also, this is fabulous, and I would love to share it with my Tumblr and/or FB readers, if you are willing. Let me know?

    Thanks again. I really, really appreciate your sharing your story and perspective, and I know other readers will too.

    I find it especially interesting that most of your harassment came from girls, as mine was distinctly led by boys, although girls jumped in now and again. I wonder if the specific body parts involved played a part in that? It would be worth thinking about/looking into sometime.

    Much love.

  • AR

    I’m late to the party, but I just found your blog, and I wanted to say thank you so much for sharing this. Your middle school experiences sound frighteningly like my own, although I was thankfully able to avoid most of the unwanted touching. I am 5’1″ and a size 6, but I spent my middle school years dressing in adult size XL t-shirts and sweatshirts to try to hide the fact that I had boobs and hips, which of course still did not stop the comments about stuffing my bra, the questions of “what size are those anyway?”, and people “imitating” me by walking around with chest and bum pushed out as exaggeratedly as possible. I, too, remember consciously slouching and breaking the good posture that I had learned from years of dancing so that my bust would be less prominent. Like the above commenter, for me, the vast majority of these comments came from girls. I had many guy friends who were just friends, and yet any conversation with them was an excuse to accuse me of flirting and call me a slut.

    I wish I had had the confidence then to laugh it off or make it a joke, but I did not, and it unfortunately took me many more years to become comfortable with the shape that I have. I still struggle with body image issues (don’t we all), but I have learned to love my curves, and I really appreciate finding blogs like yours that continue to affirm that we all have beauty and worth, regardless of whether or not our bodies conform to the shape that society has declared to be “standard.”

    I have appreciated reading several of these posts on modesty – I think this is a critical discussion for our society to have, and I think your perspective and the links you provided are important voices in this conversation. When society perpetuates a system that allows (and I would argue, inevitably results in) young girls being made to feel that their primary social identity comes from their sexuality, regardless of whether they want that identity or not, is it any wonder that we are raising young men and women who do not have healthy understandings of sex and sexual relationships? I come to this discussion from within the church community (mainline protestant, not fundamentalist), and I think that the church has absolutely contributed to this problem, both through imposing ridiculous and unachievable standards of “modesty,” which many of us could only adhere to by wearing potato sacks, and by putting its head in the sand when it comes to honest and productive conversations about sex and sexuality and body image and self worth. I wholeheartedly agree with every single one of your bolded sentences, and I think it’s sad that they even need to be stated. God gave me the body that I have, and I am not going to spend my life trying to hide it, just because it bothers you in some way. That is your problem, not mine.

    Sorry for the long comment and the rant, but thank you for sharing your story and giving me the opportunity to share as well. I hope that if more and more people have the courage to talk about these issues of body image and modesty and sexuality, then maybe we can move away from some of the unproductive and destructive voices that have unfortunately had too much rein for too long…

  • J D

    Hey,

    This is sort of tangential to your (excellent) point, but for the record: I think you’re gorgeous as a total package, which is really what counts, IMO.

    What confuses me the most about the abuse you endured was that a lot of it probably came from people who endured similar abuse for different reasons — when it comes down to it, people hate and fear anything differ from what they’ve judged to be “the norm,” and I STILL don’t understand why kids who differ from the norm in various ways don’t make common cause with those who are marginalized for other reasons. Fear, I guess. It’s really sad how often our childhoods are dominated by fear.

    Anyway. High five to you for being so thoughtful about all of this!

  • Pingback: Modesty. | Hourglass with Class()

  • Feline

    I’ve written one!

    http://hourglasswithclass.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/modesty/

    :D

    It’s very similar to yours with background/story but I guess the more who are open about it, the more likely we are to eventually get a change with how women’s bodies are percieved.

  • MissShapen

    So glad you chose to express yourself and that you linked here! The more these stories get told, the more we can raise awareness of the harassment and worse that women with curvy figures are facing, and hopefully this will eventually lead to it being addressed responsibly. Yay! Thanks for posting.

  • Maddie

    I just found this article randomly through google, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing this. I started puberty around the same time as you, and got the same rumors spread about me stuffing my bra and people talking about my boobs in 4th and 5th grade. My growing stopped so I don’t particularly stand out now, but I still can’t wear some tops without showing cleavage, while my friends can. I never thought the bullying that happened earlier to me was wrong really, but reading this made me realize how to truly awful it is for something like that to happen to little girls. I just want to say thank you for spreading awareness through your blog, and I hope to join the fight and maybe my future great-grandchildren won’t have to go through the same things.

  • Douglas Bolinger

    From reading the various stories from more than a handful of ladies that were teased beyond rudeness growing up, I can only say (from a nice guys standpoint) that I never did that, nor would ever do that. I just don’t understand how young boys/girls (or men/women as adults) if they were brought up correctly that is, would even think of saying some of those things. I remember one time I was at recess (probably 4th/5th grade) and some boys were teasing a girl I was talking to about her hair, or something else about her, and I got into a fight with them when I stood up for her. I lost the fight, it was 3 against me, but I did get a few punches in, etc., before some teachers ran and broke it up. I was the only one that got sent to the principles office – as the 3 other boys all stuck up for each other. The girl ran away when the fight started, so she was no where to be found. My morals and values continue to this day. I was on the smallish side in elementary and junior high, so my parents sent me to Tae Kwon Do classes in high school. It took me 4 years, but I achieved a 2nd Degree Black Belt and instructed for a few years in college for extra money. My point being, I will always stand up for anyone being tormented, or teased – it’s just me. To bad there aren’t others out there with a shred of decency….and I’m 40+ years old now!!
    Doug B.

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  • Growing up, I had the curves, but I wasn’t necessarily attractive (I know–eye of the beholder, etc., but I hadn’t really figured out make-up and hair yet, and I have features from a syndrome that were more apparent then and affected the overall symmetry of my face), so I pretty much avoided most sexual harassment, with some exceptions. As I’ve gotten older and have come into my own a bit more, though, I’ve been a bit traumatized by the shift in how many men treat me.

    I’m 30 now, still have been single all this time, so to pair that inexperience with some completely creepy behavior from strangers or acquaintances has really thrown me for a loop, and I don’t have the teen experience to give me a better feel for how to deflect some of this–I tend to clam up or react very awkwardly.

    I can’t cover these things up–I wear a 34G, for heaven’s sake, and I’m 5’0″, and for people to imply that I’m a slut because of my breast size (I developed early, too) infuriates me. Besides the fact that slut-shaming is disgusting, it’s the assumptions about me from complete strangers. Yeah, I’m interested in sex (the libido is there and strong, just not yet acted upon with a significant other), but I can’t even count the number of guys who’ve approached me, then focused completely on my breasts, my figure, or how much they want to have sex with me (and not know/care about me as a person).

    So, thank you for this.

    (I was going to link to a blog post I wrote on this topic, but apparently my blog has been infected with malware (!), and I’ll have to fix it before I can post anything from my site. Arrrrrrgh!)

  • hippiegoth

    I’ve only just discovered your brog. I have only two things to say:
    1. Thank you. So much. I’m going to spread this around (and try to let it influence a teenage friend, hoping it will help her to love her body.)

    2. I think you’re beautiful (and that’s meant in a non-creepy or judgemental way, and I don’t mean to imply that you “need” my approval or that I’m in any position to judge or anything… just… I admire your writing and your photographs.)

  • Olivia Coles

    Thank you for writing this; I got teary eyed reading through the bit about your bullying experience. I myself developed early when I was young and was made to feel ashamed for having an adult body before high school. I was called fat and teased because I had hips and a chest that developed first, i felt ashamed of my body and believed that something was wrong with me. However, nowadays I am much more comfortable with my figure and care less of what others think of me. As a 34h to 36gg cup woman I still feel sometimes judged by others because of my breasts but I have learnt to shrug it off. A small boy the other day said to his mother right in front of me that, I would be thinner if my breasts weren’t so big.

  • Rachel Jones

    Such a good article! I, too, went through puberty very early-around 9, and the first bra I wore was a 34-36C, which I now wonder about, since I was quite tiny around a that age. Maybe 24 inches or less in the rib cage. Before my bosom, people often called me things like “Little Mouse.” Afterwards, sexual harassment became the norm for me. By 12, I looked 16 or older, and when I passed the ACT with the top 1% of college bound students that year, and was told I could skip ahead into college, I decided not to, mainly due to the fact that, as a high functioning autistic with breasts that were way too large for her frame and age, I was terrified of college men. They were always hitting on me when I swam in public pools or walked down the street to buy something at the corner store, so no way did I want to be surrounded by them! In only one aspect was I fortunate-that same year, I also was responsible for a gifted and talented class starting at my school, and I was the only student in it. This made life so much easier, since I could spend most of my days inside the library with my sweet female teacher and not have to worry about pokes, stares, or boys knocking things off my desk or out of my arms so I’d have to bend over and pick them up. Sometimes I’d even stay inside the library during recess to avoid those same things.

    I really appreciated reading the perspective of someone else who struggled through the same things I did, and applaud you for your honesty and all the things you have achieved with this brog. It really has made me feel like I’m not alone in my struggles. Thank you!

  • Tee

    I recognize that this is a very old post, but as I have just found your blog — in a stunning decision to start wearing things which are not baggy and concealing — I had to sniffle a bit as I recognized myself. I am… more than a little disappointed to be ten years older than you and just now coming to these conclusions – but we are who and where we are, yes? So, thank you in advance for all of the information I’m gleaning from your blog as I poke through your backlist posts, for writing this specific post with a list of things I need to write down on my hand every day about how it’s my right to look how I want – despite whatever reactions my bust provokes in others — yeah. Just a LOT to think about here. Thank you so much.