I never had to think about my boobs, or lack thereof, until I started high school.
One of the most awkward adjustments to high school life was taking swim lessons. Stripping down to a bathing suit in front of my classmates was mortifying, especially since the boys and girls were all together. As we all stood beside the pool in the first lesson, I looked up and down the line at the other girls. I couldn't help but notice that many of them had already developed breasts while mine were nowhere in sight.
I wasn’t the only one who had noticed. Shortly after that, my very first boyfriend dumped me for being “flat-chested.” He’d asked me out on the very first day of high school just a few weeks prior, so it wasn’t exactly a serious relationship, but it still hurt. “I’m 12”, I thought. “What do you expect?” I assumed they would grow in time, but they never really did. Much to my teenage disappointment, I’ve always been a 32A.
I was often teased by boys at school who mocked my small boobs, calling them names like ‘bee stings’ or ‘pancakes.’ When I finally worked up the confidence to wear a bikini for the first time at 15 years old, I folded my arms across my body as I walked along the beach to hide my barren chest.
My second teenage boyfriend, who, like many boys his age, had seemingly been watching too much porn, once asked me if he could ‘titty fuck’ me. Unable to achieve a cleavage even if I tried, I felt inadequate. He had forgotten that you need actual boobs to be able to do that, something I was lacking. Oh, how much we both had to learn. I ended up giving him my very first blowjob instead, so I don’t think he minded too much. Still, the feeling of inadequacy stayed with me.
In my 20’s, another boyfriend would joke about me being part of the ‘Itty Bitty Titty Committee,' something that always made me cringe. He said he liked my boobs, but it felt cruel when he would tease me about their size.
It’s not just men who’ve made me feel uncomfortable about my bra size. Women have done it, too. On one shopping trip, a La Senza sales assistant refused to believe me when I said I was an A-cup. Having worked in one of their stores previously, I was well aware of how bra sizing worked and how important it is to get your boobs fitted. So I was confident that I had it right. She insisted that I try a B instead, and being a complete pushover, I did so to appease her. When I invited her into the fitting room, she took one look at me before affirming what I already knew. “Oh yeah, you’re an A,” she frowned before walking back out again. I was right, but I felt wrong.
My twin sister wears a double D, and I have no idea how that worked out. She used to joke that she got the boobs while I got the brains. And I would say that it was a fair trade-off. But it’s not a trade-off. No bra size or body type is worse than the other. We’re both smart and beautiful and amazing, and we both have great tits. Each of us is a full package on our own.
Emma Thomas and her sister
Now that I’ve hit 30, I don’t mind being a card-carrying member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. Put that shit on a t-shirt; I’d wear it, loud and proud. Not that I have to slap a slogan across my chest to show everyone how small my boobs are. There are many reasons why I’ve grown to love my boobs.
The first is that I’m an extremely active person. When I’m not training Thai boxing, I’m lifting weights or running half marathons. My tiny tits have certainly been an advantage in this realm. I can’t imagine having to deal with them bouncing around while I’m working out. Besides, sports bras are expensive enough without having to buy extra-supportive ones. Busty ladies, I feel for you. My only point of reference is Rachel Bloom’s hilarious ‘Heavy Boobs’ song, but that was enough to put me off.
The second is that I did eventually learn what it was like to have bigger boobs. A significant weight gain in my late twenties gave me a window into my teenage desire. It was nice to achieve a bit of cleavage for the first time in my life, and I enjoyed having a little more jiggle. However, the novelty soon wore off. Button-up shirts would pop open, and pinning them together was an annoyance I hadn’t foreseen. Low-cut shirts that used to hang correctly were also a pain. I found myself having to pull them up continually to avoid flashing my bra. When I lost the weight, I was relieved that my boobs were the first to go. I felt like myself again.
Now, I even remove the padding from new bras that I buy. I’m more comfortable than ever with the size of my boobs. Having something extra on my chest doesn’t feel like me.
This newfound body confidence has given me a new lease on life, but it can often make men uncomfortable. When I told one male friend that I like having small boobs, he said: “but what if the man you’re with likes big ones?” “Then he’s not for me,” I responded. My self-assurance baffled him. My body doesn’t exist to please anyone else. Besides, who decided that all men love big boobs and small ones are undesirable, anyway? Why can’t people like both? I know plenty of men who prefer not to have more than a handful. These days, I get nothing but compliments about mine from sexual partners. Although let’s be clear, men’s opinions about my boobs are completely fucking irrelevant. They don’t need anyone’s approval but mine.
The answer was never to change my body or to try to conform to someone else’s idea of how I should look. It was merely to love myself and stop comparing myself to others. It was when I began to accept my boobs for what they are that I became truly comfortable with them. Now that I’m finally confident about my boobs, I couldn’t give a fuck what anyone else has to say about them.
All photos copyright Emma Thomas.