My Breasts, My Business!

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Posted January 31, 2017
Ms. Brafit
Ms. Brafit : We are a Social Enterprise focused on Breast Care and Breast Health. (1/1)

At the age of 9, I began adolescence and started to see little mounds on my chest. I was still playing with dolls and liking to be outside playing in my yard under the many fruit trees. The thought of growing breasts was so remote from my mind that I did not give it any attention.

At least, until my mother started to comment on my having to wear a vest and soon enough the "B" word came swooning around the household. It was approaching the time for a bra.

I was merely 10, when I had my first bra and it was the most uncomfortable thing ever. I felt encaged and imprisoned by my own body parts having to be harnessed, slung and locked away in this "new" piece of clothing - a new necessity.

By entering secondary school, I as now an expert at fastening my bra, being discreet, managing my hygiene and understanding why I had to wear this garment. I felt so secure, it never occurred to me, that breasts were a taboo. Italso did not occur to me, that my parents were taking advance precaution from bullying, curious predators and my self-esteem, by ensuringthat I wore a comfortable bra and had discreet coverage.

My breasts grew and they grew fast. Butwith each new growth, I was more capableof taking proactive steps to be secure and comfortable.

What I can admit, is that the reality was not the same for one classmate in secondary school -who,due to the size ofher breasts, was nicknamed "Bustamante"on or around the second day of entrance into our high-school. A five year high school, with the option to stay on for two extra years of A-Levels.

It was the thing to do, to call this young woman by the name that suited her appearance. I did my best to remember that her name was Lorraine and to always address her by her name - after all, the difference between us was simply a garment - a bra that fitted well. Hers did not and so for five years, she was referenced as "Bustamante" by most, except for her teachers. What a horror to have to experience life at the hands of over four hundred students, a great percentage, who would reference you by a name that you were not given by your parents, and among people who you would spend the majority of your day, week, month, term and the next five to seven years with.

Lorraine was always disheveled, untidy andmostly always alone. She had few if any"friends" and onmost days, shesat on a bench in the courtyard near our school's "EnglishCottage", all alone- reading. She readaway her fears and she probably dreadedcoming to school because of her breasts. How many more may have felt just like her? I often ask this now, now that MyBreasts are My Business - my Social Enterprise, Ms. Brafit (www.msbrafit.com)that I use to raise awareness, provide solutions,advocate, create safe spaces,empower, shareand todiscourage body shaming. TheEnterprise that Iuse to engage women who have been recently diagnosed and need to transition to a comfortable emotional state of feeling feminine once more. An Enterprise that we have created to empower womenand girls to love their breasts - this powerful bodypartthat feeds the newborn baby.The Enterprise that has given me a global platform to advocate forhealthy breasts and to allow me to attend globalspeaking engagementsthatencouragewomen and girls to embrace our bodies no matter who or what! An Enterprise that supports clinicians and enables them to deliver a complete health care solution to their patients by collaborating with Ms. Brafit to get the best outcome for their patients.

Welcome to Ms. Brafit, the place that has given birth to new confidence to many young women, many adolescents, many girls, many grown women, many breast-cancer survivors, many clinical practitioners, many corporate officesand many families. Many girls named Lorraine or Susan or Sydney. Many girls who may have allowed the ink from their pens to run out onto their school uniform'sshirt pockets, so that they could blame something else for making them untidy and unworthy (Lorraine always had freshly deposited blue ink on her shirt pockets, just around her breast area). Many girls who hold their school books or bindersin place to disguise their bosoms or the many girls who slouch their backs into position to change their posture so they can distract from the prominence of their breasts.

In our English Literature classes, Lorraine was easilymoved by the stories that affected humanity and that showed cruelty to others- she was absolutely moved by sorrow and by cruelty in the books that we read as compulsory to our academic journey. She cried openly when injustice was delivered to characters in Shakespeare, Hardy, Lee, Wolf, Keats, Shelley, Lawrence, Wordsworth and Hemmingway. Lorraine was probably dying inside and giving herself the names of each of these characters, as a sacrifice to endure the reality of a cruel world.

In the final year of school, I became closer to Lorraine and we would have open conversations about many things. We never talked about her breasts because it was not the time or place and they did not define her as I never referenced her by the name that our other peers did. Simply because I was just a secure version of Lorraine.

In the first month of graduating from High-School, I got a phone call on or around August 3rd and it was to tell me that Lorraine haddied. I was devastated and I was also sad. Sad because Lorraine was not allowed to understand that her body and her breastsstilldid not define her. It did not define herintelligence or her place in our cruel world.Lorraine, was buried on my birthday and it wasa difficult. I still remember that day in our Literature group, while readingShakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Lorraine wasemotionally distraughtduring our reading. She was so deeply moved by the lives of pain endured by these two "star-cross'd lovers" and her sobbing was uncontrollable - she was probably dealing with her own internal pain at the utterance of the line"parting is such sweet sorrow"

To Lorraine for all thecruelty, pain andsuffering that you endured during the most significant time of your life. RIP my dear, your breasts did not define you.

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This post was submitted in response to Body Beautiful.

Comments 14

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Clodine Mbuli Shei
Jan 31, 2017
Jan 31, 2017

Dear Nicole,

Such an emotional piece. i wish Lorraine could understand her breast did not define who she  was. Its never late though, we have many 'Lorraine' around us . We must empower them beyond these stereotypes

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Jan 31, 2017
Jan 31, 2017

Thank you Clodine! I deeply appreciate your encouragement. Please help me to share this statement around your community. It is important to free girls and women from the fear and shame of their bodies

Rahmana Karuna
Feb 01, 2017
Feb 01, 2017

Nicole,

this is such a well articulated story of a very important area of bullying. all the attention to breast. and butts of course. name calling is so very degrading. she was comforted some by your offer of friendship and respect, i can only believe. thank you.

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Dear Rahaman,

How very inspiring of you to give me this message. Thank you so much for your comments and encouragement. It took me a long time to get myself ready to share this as it remains a very emotional part of my journey as an adolescent and into my late teens. This incident was actually 25 years ago

Kirthi
Feb 07, 2017
Feb 07, 2017

Excellent, excellent writing, Nicole! Thank you for sharing, for articulating and for being who you are. To build a girl's self-esteem and to fight bullying needs the support of such powerful role models as you, and my heart swells with gratitude for all the kind work you do for the future of the world.

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Kirthi,

Thank you very much! I am still looking forward to our meeting in person and am in equal admiration of your work. Thank you so much for your continued encouragement and support and for understanding the work that we have been doing for women and girls. 

Elvire
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Waouh Nicole!

Thanks for sharing; I was aware of this challenge but  your vivid images and detailed telling have helped me understand more of what goes on in this issue. 

And guess what, your story is a good opening for a conversation with my 10-years old. 

Thanks indeed.

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

Dearest Elvira, 

I encourage you to begin the conversation with your 10 year old daughter and to share in your community of mothers, women and adolescents. If there is any way you see my work being able to be shared in your community, I am open to being part or any speaking engagements that may require expertise in adolescent health, women's health, maternal care and especially body-perception and care. Please do not hesitate to reach me. More so, please share this story within your community so the conversation stays alive while we lose many to forms of bullying and name-calling. Thank you! 

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Feb 15, 2017
Feb 15, 2017

There are so many women and girls who are unhappy with their bodies. There are also many who, due to pop-culture, bullying and self-esteem challenges, are forced to hide under layer of clothing. Yet there are those who by virtue of that they choose to wear, are shamed and forced to believe that their beauty, intelligence an capacity are measured by their physical attributes. Please share this within your community and please help me to raise awareness of this harmful practice. Please tell me how my work, research and expertise can serve in your community? Please tell me how we can collaborate for change. Thank you! 

iyamail
Feb 18, 2017
Feb 18, 2017

very few adolescents are happy with their bodies and a way to feel better is to lash out at girls like Lorraine. Meanwhile to some degree we are all victims of falling short of"a perception of perfection". As older girls with more knowledge we have the duty to let the young ones know that beauty comes in all forms. Thanks so much Nicole for this article. I will make it a point to let young girls know how they are beautiful

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Feb 18, 2017
Feb 18, 2017

Thank you Iyamail! Giving hope to more girls, makes our world an easier place to live in! Appreciate your encouragement. Let me know if any of our resources will help your message reach wider populations. 

Breast regards, 

Nicole

Feka
Feb 28, 2017
Feb 28, 2017

Poor Lorraine. There are many young girls out there just like her. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that our bodies do not say who we are.

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Jul 11, 2017
Jul 11, 2017

Thank you Fei's. Yes it is important to always know that our attributes do not define us. We must love each perceived "imperfection" before we seek validations externally. Thank you for your comments. 

Nicole Joseph-Chin
Jul 11, 2017
Jul 11, 2017

Thank you Feka. Yes it is important to always know that our attributes do not define us. We must love each perceived "imperfection" before we seek validation externally. Thank you for your comments. Please spread our messages in your communities.