the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Because it’s been too long

How about a post about boobs? Yeah? YEAH.

When I was in sixth grade I weighed about sixty pounds soaking wet. My elbows and knees poked out in comical directions, my hipbones dangerously sharp. I have a body I inherited from my father who at six-feet tall weighed 130 pounds for the first forty years of his life. Enter: The Padded Bra.

(What. Did you think I was gonna say, “The Quarter-Pound Cheeseburger”? Because I tried that and it didn’t work.)

My mother did what she thought was right at the time which was to give in to my repeated demands for a padded bra. It was 1986 and my brother had a poster of Heather Locklear in a bikini hanging above his bed. Boobs were in. And I had none. Nothing. ZIP. NA-TA-DA-DA. Like, the total black hole of boobs.

Except, the bra my mother bought me was rather wrinkly. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. My shirts hung awkwardly, meaning it looked like I had stuffed tissue inside the cups. I don’t have to tell you that this spells death for a sixth-grade girl. Maybe not actual death but a ton of therapy in her future.

My therapist’s bank account would like to take this time to thank that padded bra.

Yeah, kids would throw tissue at me as I got off the bus. They’d call me names. Supposed friends would tell me they had heard I stuffed my bra, was this true, and if so I couldn’t sit next to them at lunch. Does this shit still happen? Or was this just a John Hughes/Eighties phenomenon? Do sixth graders these days even care about boobs? Or are they too busy deciding who is the hottest vampire?

I didn’t grow boobs for another ten years. I think I mentioned this before, but I spent a semester abroad in England my senior year in college where I ate nothing but scones. Side effects included constipation, stretch marks, and boobs! They should include that warning/benefit on the side of the box!

Any sixth grader out there right now who is worried about the small size of her boobs and is reading this: one, you shouldn’t be reading this. Two, wait until you breastfeed a baby! Because your boobs will at once be phenomenally huge and excruciatingly annoying. So enjoy that smallness. Relish it. Sleep on your stomach ALL NIGHT LONG.

Turns out that when your milk comes in and your cup size jumps from the circumference of a small island to the continent of Africa, clothes don’t fit. Women who enjoy larger boobs have been dealing with this issue for most of their lives, and I welcome them to roll their eyes at me in unison. But that’s a weird, disorienting situation to be thrust into rather suddenly. And all you can do when not freaking out about the new human being you have to keep alive is talk about your boobs. Like, LOOK AT THESE. WTF? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE THINGS?

And then when you wean? Oh man. Those are fun times. Fun little saggers.

After I weaned Marlo I started a pretty rigorous training and workout program that I’ve been maintaining for the last eighteen months. And all I’ll say is this: now I understand why so many female body builders get implants. I’d never do it, but NOW IT MAKES SENSE.


This post was sponsored by the Skinny Cow Perfect Cup campaign. Be sure to check out their website to find out more about the next event in your area! Events are being held 7/16 in Providence, 7/30 in Chicago, and 8/27 in LA. Register today!

  • Courtney20

    2011/07/18 at 11:11 am

    I didn’t have boobs in 6th grade. My solution was to not wear a bra at all (I mean, what was the point?) Apparently that wasn’t the right choice either. I’m convinced that no matter what you do, you’ll be made fun of in middle school.

  • The Dalai Mama

    2011/07/18 at 11:16 am

    I didn’t get my boobs until maybe Junior or senior year but I got them.

    I chuckled when you said “enjoy big boobs.” I have big boobs and I joke that I endure them–my husband gets to enjoy them but they are a pain in the ass.

  • wakeandbake

    2011/07/18 at 11:18 am

    First off, I was deemed president of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee in middle school. Second, my husband has the exact same physique as your father. The Hot Topic girls love my personfied Jack the Pumpkin King man. I have come very close to cutting a few emo swoopy haired adolescent hoe bags who will not keep their vegan but I eat five bags of flaming hot cheetos a day hands off of my husband. It gets real in the Westfield mall parking lot.

    I breastfed and seeing my engorged boobs has me dreaming about implants. But then I found out there is upkeep with that shit. Like, you have to get them replaced every ten years. So that idea got a big suck on it. The only thing that is suckable any more. I am now going for heroin chic where I am so flat I do not need a bra and the only dimension on my chest is my good and plenty nursed nipples.

  • sadiejay1988

    2011/07/18 at 11:56 am

    Somehow, in a family of big chested women, I wasn’t. So I couldn’t wait to go up a bra size when I was pregnant. Instead, my bras just fit better. For some of us, it was just never meant to be!

  • sugarleg

    2011/07/18 at 12:06 pm

    itty bitties or melons deserve a great fitting bra no matter what. I am more of a melon girl, and yes Heather, some clothes just don’t work. (button down shirts? not so much.) I cannot advocate more loudly than this: WOMEN OF THE WORLD, GO GET YOUR BRA FITTED PROFESSIONALLY and then spend a little extra on the good ones. Life. Changer. and less time in precious therapy sessions talking bras. 😉

  • Mommy 2 Bears

    2011/07/18 at 12:10 pm

    I was promised boobs with pregnancy. Or was hoping for them to just be even, I’m talking a full cup, maybe cup and a half uneven. It didn’t happen. Not only did I not get any bigger I was of course not able to breast feed cause I had no milk. I about starved my first in an attempt to make it happen. Then come to find out (three months after the fact) none of the women in my family were able to breast feed because we simply could not produce milk. I hope my girls get my husband’s boobs. Weird, I know.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2011/07/18 at 12:25 pm

    I had the opposite problem in high school. I went from nothing to C cups in one summer. On my 5’2, 98lb frame. Running helped reign them in a bit so they’re now B’s. Wearing two sports bras for any athletic event cured me of boob-envy though, that’s for sure.

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/07/18 at 12:29 pm

    I’m 30 and I’m still flat as a board! Maybe I need to start eating scones…in England. Hmmm

  • kdeminiti

    2011/07/18 at 12:48 pm

    I was recently talking with some co-workers about the sad state of my chest since weaning my son. One co-worker put it perfectly and said, “Yup! They’re like golf bags hanging in a sock aren’t they?!” To which I replied, “EXACTLY!”

    (By the way, the only other time I commented was when you asked for good charities. Yup, that’s right, humanitarian work and boobs will get this girl to comment!)

  • townsete

    2011/07/18 at 1:27 pm

    I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I typically straddle the line between a C and D cup, but now at 9 months pregnant, I am a full D. And I am terrified to see what happens to these things once I start breastfeeding. I have a feeling I am doomed to be the old woman who can tuck her breasts into her pants.

  • Volcanogrrl

    2011/07/18 at 1:33 pm

    I just got fitted for a bra after deciding to retire my 10-year-old one. Turns out I’m a DD, but I’m pretty sure at least one of those Ds is backfat.

  • b00ph3tt3

    2011/07/18 at 2:11 pm

    The saying about boobs and fat come to mind: “Boobs are the last place to get it, and the first place to lose it.” Only benefit I had from being overweight was that my husband liked the boobs. I’ve never been very endowed to begin with, and with some of my recent weight loss, it’s gotten rather sad again there.

    And from working in a middle school: Boobs are still very, very much in. Too much in. For both boys and girls. Like, please stop letting me overhear these conversations in the hallway and classrooms sort of in. Where there are teenage boys concerned, boobs will be be involved.

  • Sandra@The Memory Workshop

    2011/07/18 at 2:30 pm

    Everyone should get professionally fitted every few years, especially if you find that you’ve changed clothing sizes. I bet 3/4 of women reading this are wearing the wrong size. (if you think you’re a 38C, you’re probably a 34E…everyone gets the band:cup ratio wrong)

    In 6th grade I gladly would have given you my boobs. It was awful to be one of the first girls to wear a bra.

    My flat-as-a-board daughter asked for a bra in 3rd grade. I bought her a microfiber sport style, with the hopes that when she actually *needed* a bra, she’d be used to it, and not embarrassed or ashamed.

  • slappyintheface

    2011/07/18 at 2:34 pm

    I have always had “big ens”. I got them from my chesty grandmother, but since I have lost weight mine have shrunk …. so sad. This post reminded me that I need new bras. 🙂

  • antrinkle

    2011/07/18 at 2:59 pm

    Wow. I can so relate. Junior high was awful. I’ve always worn padded bras (not a lot of padding, just enough so I look like a woman and not a boy) I didn’t think I could get any flatter until I nursed my two kids. I sometimes think I should just wear band-aids. I am curious what you do about swim wear, have you (and any other small chested person reading this) found a good brand/store for swim suits that work for small chests?

  • The Not So Little Things

    2011/07/18 at 3:09 pm

    Yep, I just rolled my eyes. I gave birth 6 weeks ago and am not officially in the largest cup size they make in my band size (which they only British companies make btw). But, seriously…will my boobs ever fill normal again???

  • crackers

    2011/07/18 at 4:01 pm

    Any woman who enjoys big boobs, paid for them. Naturally large boobs suck bc they never stay in place, you have to wear two sport bras, & if they came in early, you got your bra snapped. Boobs are no fun no matter where they fall.

  • MsMegan

    2011/07/18 at 4:13 pm

    Wait until menopause – they keep getting bigger (how many flat-chested elderly ladies do you know?). I had to make friends with the tailor so I can buy button-down shirts 10 sizes too big so they’ll fit on my boobs and then cut the shirt virtually in half so it will fit the rest of me. Good times.

  • jlejeune

    2011/07/18 at 7:06 pm

    Is the “Skinny Cow Perfect Cup Campaign” the tie in to this BOOBS post? I would never refer to you as that. But you are perfect in my eyes.

  • Maurina

    2011/07/18 at 7:41 pm

    I was totally flat-chested until 14. Skinny, knobby, sunkenchested – the more obnoxious in my grade commented that I must iron my chest to get it so flat.

    Yeah, I remember that… FONDLY. Because by the time I was 15 I was a C-cup (and still only 5ft tall) and had no idea how to deal with my sudden boobage…

    Regardless of your own personal booby experience, the fact is that between the age of 10 and 16, most of us gals have had a fairly difficult time of it in terms of our development (or lack thereof)… it’s hard to be a chick, y’all 🙂

  • Vander

    2011/07/18 at 9:20 pm

    @sugarleg: Amen to bra-fittings and expensive bras. I am a 36-G in a good bra, so I understand the need for a good one.

    @townsete: Complaining about being a “full D.” Please. I think the last time I was a full D was my freshman year of college. My boobs LOVED the birth control pill. (So did my boyfriend.)

    Most chain stores (I’m looking at you Victoria’s Secret) mask their real sizes so that women feel more “mainstream” in a B or C cup, but if you go to a really good bra store, a lot of you might be surprised to be pushing a little farther into the alphabet.

    Not you, Heather. You’re still in the early letters. Sorry. But you’re gorgeous! We all are!

  • sugarleg

    2011/07/18 at 10:09 pm

    @Vander: sing it!! I just found out I am a 32DD, and I wish the label also read “WTF?!” mine go up and down based on where I am on a training schedule for a half marathon. do a few of these a year. man if I could do a sport bra intervention on my running path, oy.

    also wanted to add, take good care of your boobies no matter the size. good bras, good sports bras, self exams etc.

  • jon

    2011/07/18 at 11:19 pm

    No one here should be dissing breasts. EVER.

  • The Bold Soul

    2011/07/19 at 4:03 am

    I was a C cup by the time I was 12. A D cup when I was 30 (also putting on weight, which doesn’t help). Now at 50 I’m a DD. I have seriously considered breast reduction surgery because I have chronic neck and shoulder pain, in part from my too-large boobs, but I’m working on weight loss first and then we’ll see what happens.

    I guess breasts are always a “grass is always greener” issue for us girls: whichever side of that fence we’re on, we’re wishing we were on the other. I just don’t understand women (Pamela Anderson, I’m talking to YOU) who get those enormous implants because it’s uncomfortable carrying that extra weight around AND the clothes never fit right.

    I’m just saying.

  • The Bold Soul

    2011/07/19 at 4:06 am

    By the way, I think you might make a few bucks writing a book called “The Boob-Growing Scone Diet”. There’s gotta be an audience for that.

  • JannyLynn410

    2011/07/19 at 6:44 am

    Bed* Just sayin’ =)

  • girlplease

    2011/07/19 at 7:22 am

    I too am the other side of the spectrum. I have a very hour glass shape and thanks to my son, I now have 38 DD at 40. It’s not cool when you hear coworkers talking behind your back (including your boss) saying that your boobs are fake and ridiculous for my frame.

  • Not So Glamorous Housewife

    2011/07/19 at 7:41 am

    Boob talk is so fun. I am currently pregnant with my 5th child. After the swelling goes down I can be certain that if NASA wanted to continue to run the space program with two rockets that point directly to the ground, I could provide a template for what they need. Oh well, at least the kids will be smart from all of the boob juice.

  • waitimaprincess

    2011/07/19 at 7:48 am

    Sixth grade is HELL! It was in 6th grade that I decided stuffing my bra was the only way to normalcy. And in the middle of rehearsals for the mothertrucking promotional exercise the tissue FELL OUT. Absolute mortification. Some friends I had! They all laughed at me like Carrie in the shower. Pelted me with wadded up tissues. I am literally flashing back. And I don’t appreciate it, dooce, really, I don’t. My oldest starts middle school this year. That wench has more boobs than me (I am jealous of a 10 yr old. Motherhood rocks). I always heard, “Oh, you’ll gain weight and grow boobs after you have kids.” Well how damn many do I have to have? B/c did you know they don’t actually make a -32AAAAAAAAAAA bra?

  • waitimaprincess

    2011/07/19 at 7:51 am

    Oh, and the Victoria’s Secret bombshell. Yeah. That.
    @ Maurina — my body is still in 14 yr old mode!

  • jfwillson

    2011/07/19 at 8:09 am

    Thanks to the miracle of life, I have enough boobs for everyone! And people aren’t afraid to say really inappropriate things about them to my face! I am dreaming of the day that I can get these suckers reduced to A cups. Maybe negative A cups. Is that possible?

  • cris

    2011/07/19 at 8:39 am

    Wait… you stuffed your bra with Quarter-Pound Cheeseburgers? And then cabbage? That… I must admit, that sounds brilliant! The humilliation that would have saved me during ALL my time in school (and after…) if only John Hughes had thought to put that in his movies 😉

  • osprey94

    2011/07/19 at 9:15 am

    I too was scrawny and boobless in 6th grade. I too tried padded bras that could have stood in for helmets they were so overly padded. I even actually TRIED stuffing a bra once. The effects were not so believable. I teach in a school with 6th graders and I’m not privy to all their teasing, but it does seem like boobs aren’t quite as big a deal as in the 80s. Lucky bitches.

  • Becky Cochrane

    2011/07/19 at 10:41 am

    Happy birthday, Heather! To you and all your body parts.

  • JPD

    2011/07/19 at 12:08 pm

    You’re a funny lady! Not just the boob blog, but many of those in the past. Thnx so much for brightening my day.

  • missusclark

    2011/07/19 at 12:13 pm

    Through 7th grade, I was scrawny and flat chested, but so was most every other girl. When the boobs did arrive, (I went from zero to 34C in a summer) luckily, I had moved across the country and no one at school had seen the flat-chested version. I was very self-conscious, and wore mostly loose shirts. Then one day, having not done my laundry, I borrowed a tight-fitting turtleneck sweater from my mom and went off to school. Oh my freakin’ god! Guys stopping dead in their tracks to stare at my chest! It was mortifying; I didn’t wear anything tight or cleavage revealing for another 15 years after that.

    Having twins made the ta-tas huge. I had really been counting on breast-feeding/weaning to shrink ’em back down, but I didn’t produce any milk. So, now I have 36 DDD breasts that are significantly lower than they used to be. I wouldn’t mind so much if they didn’t hang so low. I sometimes wistfully dream about spaghetti-strapped summer dresses and think, goddamn it! I’m gonna get these things reduced and tacked back up where they belong! But that seems a rather drastic accommodation just for vanity. So, I just buy British brassieres with enough suspension hold up the Golden Gate Bridge. Husband loves ’em, of course.

  • maticki

    2011/07/19 at 4:24 pm

    OH, I have a 9 month old baby girl and am weaning her right now and this post is like somebody stole my toughts and put them in here! I used to be proud of my (small) but firm boobs and all is left now are sad saggy things…

    pregnancy left me with stretch marks, saggy boobs, excesive belly skin and a feet size larger! oh and lovely litthe girl, hope she will appreciate it one day

    you made my day with this post!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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