Sure, they're just a body part, but you've probably got a relationship with them unlike the one you've got with say, elbows or knees. In fact, you might not even say the word in front of strangers without taking a little breath first. Not that long ago, even breast *cancer* wasn't really talked about. It was only in 1993 when the pink ribbon was introduced as a symbol of the cause and October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month became better known. And though since then, breast cancer prevention and early intervention are more openly discussed (way to go, you many awesome activists!), a stigma still exists against breasts. Whether it's negative reactions to breastfeeding in public places, the censorship that inspired the #freethenipple movement on Instagram, or body shaming comments that women in the media face, there isn't a person with breasts that goes through life without thinking about them.
So today, we're getting personal about our breasts. What we think about our own, how our perception of them has changed over time, our worries, our triumphs, *everything*. It's possibly the most candid any of us have been on the subject and we hope that being part of this conversation will inspire you to do the same. Stigma be damned. :)
"As I sit here writing this post about breasts, it could not be more fitting that I am currently breastfeeding my 5 month old daughter. Breasts have been an important part of my daily life, now more than ever before. Prior to motherhood, 'the girls' were only useful in filling out my favourite dresses and shirts. Now they provide nourishment for my baby. I hate to say it, but before Bella made me a mother, I kind of thought breastfeeding was strange. Now I think it is truly amazing. Mothers are able feed their children and keep them healthy. Milk is always on tap, ready to serve wherever we go, just the right temperature, and I know it's just what my little girl needs to grow and thrive. I am comfortable breastfeeding in public, after all, the sole purpose of breasts is to feed babies. My hope is for our society to become more accommodating and accepting of mothers feeding their little ones, openly, preferably without having to wear a cover (unless they prefer to).
So here I stand, proudly in my boring black, comfortable, nursing bra and high waisted skirt. Although my body isn't quite what it used to be, I'm learning to love and appreciate it for giving life to my daughter." •
"In grade six or seven, loud enough for the whole class to hear no less, my friend asked if I was "developing" and I was suddenly ashamedly aware that I had breasts before anyone else. I spent the next couple years in layers and oversized sweaters trying to hide (despite being way too warm way too often) because, despite my parents being open and liberal, I'd internalized the idea that good girls don't show their bodies. It was a dreadful feeling thinking I'd be caught again. Twenty years later, acceptance seems to be at the forefront so I'm hopeful young people are living more confidently!" •
"I've never thought much of "my girls" other then that they were small. I grew up with a few girls that were chesty laroo's (of course getting oodles of attention) and come grade five noticed they were already having back problems. So for me, I was like, whatever these will do. They complimented my smallish frame and over all I felt proportioned. Also as a dancer for 22 years of my life... a small chest was certainly an advantage. Now to date, one of my biggest accomplishments in life has been gifting my 3 babies with the nourishment from yours truly. Even 3 kids deep I'm still blown away with the human body and what it can do. Incredible. I'm of course very pro breastfeeding, however it was no easy task off the hop. There were moments I wanted to cry and just totally give up, but I'm SO glad I didn't. I've also had close one's in my world not able to nurse their mini's. I know it's not for everyone but if you're at this stage, I encourage you to at least TRY it and know that those lac consultants are a god send and you can get help. Support is so big when entering the world of child birth and parenting. Now post kiddos. I have some rather undesirable, one would say, set of breasts. I have to tuck these deflated patties into my bra, roll em up and if I had comfortable body tape I'd give them a place to stay. I certainly see the want or need of breast augmentation now. I've always thought lots of woman got them to be big and flaunty. Now having nursed three babes... I just want them back where they belong.. NOT at my knees and with their original full potential. Overall I'm so proud of this body of mine. I think it's just part of the whole mom package. This temple that created 3 human lives. But all that I've put this bod of mine through...holy fuck us woman are amazing! "•
"My relationship with my breasts has changed so much over the years. At first I was a goofy child who made fun of my mom who never needed a bra till grade 8, then had to "eat humble pie" after following suit. Then I was affected by the cruelty of teenage boys and was embarrassed of the size of my boobs, then as I got older I grew to actually appreciate them. I discovered the many benefits to smaller breasts such as fashion, athletics, convenience and not to mention adult maturity. My next change of feelings for my 'girls' came after losing my mother to breast cancer and seeing my aunties struggle through the same thing. Then back to generally positive feelings when my children came along and the many interesting changes there. The last 10 years have been all about cancer prevention with regular mamo's and mri's and now on to meetings with surgeons for the one day I decide to be proactive rather than reactive. So now I have a bit of a love/ hate relationship with them while I try to decide our fate together before it gets decided for me!!
So needless to say for the time being my girls and I are still hanging in there!"•
"I hadn't given much thought to what my breasts were capable of, until my son was born and from that moment on, my breasts and the very idea of them changed forever. They nourished my child as he grew, provided comfort in late night feedings and became a favoured resting spot where he would sleep.
Round, soft, flat, perky...breasts are breasts. We often compliment or complain about the physical traits of breast, and we don't talk enough about breast cancer. It has (or will) affect you or someone you love dearly. My grandmother passed before I was born, my auntie is a survivor and friends near and far fight the disease like the absolute goddesses that they are. Let's make a promise to be good to our bodies - get to know your breasts, check them and be proactive." •
"9 years ago I was at a low key intimate concert when I received a call from my sister. I slipped outside of the venue to hear her and was told that she had breast cancer. I'll never forget the words or how I immediately felt. How could it be? She was still so young! Not long before she was breastfeeding her 2 beautiful children and now cancer? That one word that carries so much weight. It was all so much for me to comprehend especially being away in a different province and feeling absolutely powerless and useless. I wanted to comfort her and help her but I felt there wasn't much that I could do except to be there for her when she needed to talk and be strong for her. From that moment on I never took a day with my breasts in their good health (from what I know) for granted. That was the moment that breasts became more then just a body part for me. They are a part we all need to pay attention to and listen to if something doesn't seem right. When we really listen to our bodies and our instincts it can be such a powerful thing. My sister knew exactly what was up before her diagnosis, thank goodness she listened and went it as soon as she felt that something was different.
Two kids later and currently breastfeeding my second baby I couldn't be more thankful for the nourishment and comfort that they have provided for my two babies. After my son hit the 6 month mark and was about to start solids I really couldn't believe how incredible it was that I was able to solely nourish my baby up to that point with milk that my body made, how unreal is that?1? Every single time I hear that satisfied gulping sound I am thankful and amazed at what our bodies can accomplish."
"At this exact time in my life, my breasts are functioning more than ever: to provide nourishment and comfort for my baby. Before kids, my breasts have scared me with cysts and lumps that have all thankfully been checked out as OK. For many women, breastfeeding isn't an option and so I am thankful I am able to do this (with its own challenges) and and am thankful they are healthy. They may not be perfect, but they're mine and I wouldn't change them. "•
"My boobs...they've been much smaller and much bigger, they're full of lumps (which I monitor), and they bring me a boatload of pleasure. These days I keep them a lot more comfortable than I used to. And when I think about it, I realize that I love them very much. Take care of your breasts, my friends."
"I suppose I've never really taken the time to think about my relationship with my breasts or how I feel about them. I am grateful for the changes they've gone through though. I am grateful for their ability to have fed my baby, I am grateful for their silver stretch marks that represent the changes in that time in my life."
Get to know your breasts.
Breast health is an important part of our overall health and well-being and so many of us look this part over in our busy lives. It's time to take our breast health seriously. So let's make a pact to get in the habit of being breast aware - get familiar with your breasts, learn about breast cancer risk factors, understand your personal risk of breast cancer and be informed about screening for the earlier detection of breast cancer.
Preventive health is about making your health and well-being a priority. When you practice preventive health, you take action, to improve your chances of good health and better the odds of stopping disease before it starts.
So ladies, it's time to really get to know your breasts. Click here for a guide to breast awareness.