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The Bridesmaid Dress That Changed My Breasts

  |   By Leslie Schilling

It was a powder blue strapless crepe bridesmaid dress that was the final straw. When my sister-in-law emailed me a link to the dress I was to wear to my brother’s wedding, I sat in front of my computer and wept for roughly twenty minutes. I called my mom crying, and she said I was being ridiculous. I was 31 years old, and I was having a meltdown over how my boobs would look in a dress.

bridesmaid dress

The Bridesmaid Dress

 

The thing is, I was always worried about how my boobs looked in clothes, ever since I got them. I went from no boobs to big boobs in a matter of a summer’s break between 7th and 8th grade. I remember the moment I realized. Brittany, a school friend and fellow dance team member, looked at me on the bus as we headed to a game and said: “I wish my boobs were as big as yours.” What?! I always thought Brittany had big boobs. Now she wants mine? I looked down at the diamond shape cutout just over the chest on my dance team uniform. Sure enough, cleavage. That wasn’t there when I tried the sample last spring before ordering it. As the football season progressed, that uniform got tighter and more awkward.

I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the situation. My mom didn’t have big boobs, and she was a single working mom, and she honestly didn’t have much time to notice the change at first either. When she did, she advised me to talk to my Aunt Terry. My Aunt Terry was nicknamed “Big Woman” by my brother when he was a child. A nickname that stuck with her throughout my cousins and my adolescent years. I am sure this was much to her horror. So when my mom suggested I talk to Big Woman about my big boobs, I felt horrified as well. None of my friends had boobs. The one friend that I thought did, Brittany didn’t. I spent the next several years in bras that didn’t fit and shirts that were too tights with buttons that were hanging on for dear life.

bridesmaid dress

Me and My Boobs

Now, I didn’t hate my boobs. I didn’t know what to do with them. When I got to the “I’m going to party and have sex with boys and sneak into nightclubs” phase of High School, I loved them. My big boobs made me feel mature. And because they made me look older, it was easier for me to get weed and access to nightclubs. In Louisiana, you just had to be 18 to get into a bar. No one cared about your age once you got in. Most of the time you could stand there with giant X marks in permanent marker on your hand holding a hurricane, no problem. Before you worry too much about my safety, you should know that most of the time these were gay bars, and I was with my gay best friends. And those boys love to dance with party girls with boobs. I had a photo album I made in an art class in high school with one of my gay BFs holding my boobs. I showed my grandma, and she was upset a man was touching my boobs. My Southern Baptist grandmother did not approve, but somehow it got past my art teacher unmentioned.

After high school I moved to Los Angeles on my own. Right off the bat, I gained 15 pounds and my boobs got bigger. I lost the weight and they were slightly smaller but lower. Throughout my twenties, my weight fluctuated mostly due to my lack of self-care. I smoked, binge drank, ate unhealthily, didn’t exercise and didn’t get good sleep. As I got older I started taking better care of myself. I began to let go of unhealthy habits, and my body changed. But not my boobs. They were big and saggy. And one was definitely a whole cup size larger. My areolae were huge. I didn’t like having them out or showing anyone. So I would cover them up, didn’t talk about them and went on with my life. I was in denial. My best friend was getting married and I needed a new bra for the dress so I got measured. The woman at Nordstrom said I was a 34DDD. NO WAY. I was a D. Always have been. She brought me the proper bra to wear and I was mortified. But it fit and my boobs looked massive. And they were.

My life shifted a bit, and I moved to Chicago for six months. I had just quit smoking cigarettes. I was there over winter, and I ate so much deep dish and pasta, and meat, and bread. Have you eaten in Chicago? It is so good you will gain 20 lbs. I did. And my boobs got bigger. When I came home to LA, I hired a trainer and lost the weight. But my boobs were still huge.

Then I got the email. Powder blue strapless crepe bridesmaid dress. Photos of me would be living on the Internet forever and ever. After my giant cry-fest, I started researching breast reductions. The first doctor I saw came highly recommended. But my insurance wouldn’t cover $18,000. Yeah, right. I don’t have that kind of money and was heartbroken. Someone else suggested another doctor, but he also didn’t take my insurance. It turned out the doctor he shared his practice with did. I went in for my consult and felt discouraged thinking I wasn’t big enough by insurance standards. So I went home ready to accept these were my massive boobs. And now God, and everyone would have to see them in a powder blue crepe strapless bridesmaid dress.

About a week later I got the call. It was approved! I got my pen out to write down the cost. She read out three numbers that totaled less than $600. My whole life was living with these boobs thinking I had no options and now the absolute best option was only going to cost me $600. I did it. I had them reduced. Plus I got a refund from the anesthesiologist because they overcharged me.

bridesmaid dress

The Bridesmaid Dress, Post-Surgery

So here I am four years later. My boobs are still big. They were never small. I am a D cup now. Sometimes they feel fuller. They don’t sit as high as they did when I first got them done. A friend told me they looked like her 17-year-old daughter’s boobs a couple of months post surgery. High five! Now they look like a typical 35-year-old woman’s boobs, and I love them. They sag a little, but not a lot. And they have some stretch marks from years past. They always will. I have surgery scars, but they are barely visible. I don’t have kids yet, but if I do I know I will hate how big my boobs get. But right now and ever since my surgery, I have felt comfortable and happy with my breasts.

But I never really liked that dress.

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Leslie Schilling
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Leslie Schilling

Leslie Schilling is a Costume Designer living in Los Angeles. Her work includes Curb Your Enthusiasm, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, and Children's Hospital. She likes to tell stories in her spare time.

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