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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