Some of my memories of growing up were painful both emotionally and physically. Revealing some deeply personal stories, I hope to shed light on an important life lesson. Often, very good people choose behavior and say things that can cause others deep pain.
One day, while exercising in 5th grade gym class, a girl whispered to me that I needed a bra. Her gentle way was well-intended and I appreciated her discreet comment. When I went home and requested to go bra shopping to avoid further embarrassment in gym class, I was told my breasts were too small and my request was silly.
Then it happened again. A teenage boy on a bicycle made a lude gesture about my developing breasts and I ran home crying. I hid in the basement hoping nobody would find me but grateful that Dad came running after me. Through my tears I told him what happened. The next thing I remember was bra shopping with mom.
I was grateful for my new bra and proud of my new figure. Then it happened again. My 5th grade teacher suspected I received my new womanly undergarment. I watched her in horror as she made a beeline toward me. She took her fingers and ran them down my back over my bra strap to let me know that she knew exactly what I had under my clothes, growing breasts.
At just 10 years old I was reduced to my body parts. My breasts were something that evoked whispers, sexual gestures, were ridiculed for being too small and unworthy, and used to try to embarrass me through crude insensitivity. Like most women, I’ve endured a lifetime of comments about my body which were used to objectify, diminish and define me.
Instead of listening to the comments or criticism, I chose to appreciate my breasts, nursed my babies with them, and consider them a gift along with all the other parts of my aging body. I’m deeply grateful for my female body that houses my soul, the only part that is truly me. My breasts are a fond memory of my physical life here but they don’t define me as a woman. I am part of divinity. I am not my parts. I pray for a world filled with people who embrace this knowledge and help teach this life lesson to our young children. We are not our bodies, we are love.