The Breast Store
By: Robin Leppert
In this, empowerment, issue Robin shares her story of how sometimes what we think of as empowerment can severely fall short of our expectations. And hopefully, you will find new meaning of the word empowerment – a definition more like self esteem.
Most children employ the use of imaginary friends when a suitable living playmate cannot be found. As an only child, I found myself in the company of such imaginary playmates quite often. In fact, I had an entire imaginary family. We would argue, go grocery shopping, watch television and (my personal favorite), spend endless hours at the “breast” store.
The breast store resembled stadium seating, each row filled with different shapes and sizes of the breasts I would have when I was older. I would hold my imaginary mothers hand as we passed each pair of boobs, deeming some too small, some too big, some too pointy, some too dark, and of course, after an entire day of shopping, we would find just the right pair to bag up and take home. They would be put away in the closet, waiting for the day I hit puberty.
My real mother must have wondered why I had 10 bags of molding oranges in brown paper sacks in the back of my closet at any given time. I was obsessed with having boobs, and this began at a very early age.
You can imagine my shock and horror when at the age of twelve; I still did not possess such a treasure. Most girls had developed the year before, and were already graduating from their training bras, while I was still dreaming of the day I would be able to go to Sears and get the one with the pretty pink bow.
This did not go unnoticed by the twelve year old boys in my class either.
“Hey Robin”, they would say, “Are you ever gonna grow some tits?”
This sent me home in tears to my mother who reassured me that while my body was developing slower than most of the girls in my class, it would indeed, catch up.
“Do you see the way your mother looks?” she asked.
How could I miss it? My mother had the perfect C cup, accompanied by an ass that would make any black woman in America jealous.
“You are half of me Robin, and the better half for sure. You are going to have an amazing body. Give yourself some time”.
She was right, I thought. Nature would prevail, and someday soon, I was going to grow from a short, mousy-haired, flat-chested brunette, into a buxom blonde with a body that would drive men to their knees.
Age 13 passed. I started my period.
Age 14 passed. Sleepovers were torture.
Age 15 passed. I wanted to slit my wrists.
I had developed all the “breasts” I was ever going to have. My areolas (the dark skin around the nipple) had grown to the size of a quarter, but there was no surrounding tissue. No perfect alabaster mounds, no pretty pink nipple, no bra that would ever fit me besides the one from Sears with the creepy pink bow.
The fumbling of teenage boys never made it below my neck. I was determined never to let anyone see that nature had somehow deserted me. Padded bras kept up the façade somewhat, until I hit my twenties, and met my husband. The only reason he was even allowed to see me without a shirt on, was while the boobs weren’t much to look at, they gave me intense sexual pleasure, another practical joke that I was sure God intended just for me.
When I turned 25, I began to research breast implants. I learned what a “contracture” was, I learned that some silicone implants leaked and possibly poisoned its recipients. I also learned that there were many different types of incisions, and one in particular caught my attention. It seems that doctors, in addition to adding an implant, can also remove skin, and make areolas that resemble silver dollars the size of a dime. I had given birth to one of my children by this time, and my breasts had indeed, finally blossomed! However, as soon as I was done breastfeeding, they had deflated like a 2 day old balloon. So, now I was left looking like the women inside the pages of National Geographic, and decided that after I had my second child, I would find the best breast surgeon my city had to offer, and finally vindicate myself. If God were insistent that my destiny was not to be a Playboy Playmate, I would find an atheist equipped with a rubber bag of water and a knife to dispute him.
At the age of 28, I had my second child, and again my breasts swelled with milk. I felt every tingle of “letdown”, and my child’s warm mouth suckling, his tongue flicking the nipple and his tiny lips smacking with excitement. I watched the quiet contentment after his belly was full of the nourishment I had just produced. I made love to my husband and marveled at how I was able to sustain the two most important men in the world with my breasts.
When I was 30, I had two, 250cc saline implants inserted into my body. The pain was excruciating for the first 3 days following the surgery, and the left implant was placed too far up above the muscle. The surgeon had reduced the size of my areola’s, which, in order to do so, meant that he had to cut around the entire circumference. The scars healed decently, but as it happens in some cases, (and of course in mine), the scars stretched, giving the appearance that the size was the same as it had always been. Also, and the most troubling, I lost 95% of the sensation in my left nipple. I could still feel it when my husband touched it, but never to the point of arousal.
The doctor told me to give the left implant time to “drop”, and that eventually, the sensation would probably return.
One year later, it had not. I made an appointment for a second surgery to release the “contracture” of the left breast, which had begun to bother me. My surgeon also wanted to revise the areolas again, but I was insistent that I did not want him touching the right breast that still had sensation. He reassured me however that he would not be cutting deep enough to sever any nerves, and his exact words were, “I promise you that you will still have feeling in your right breast if we revise.” And so, I decided to trust the atheist with the knife.
One year after my second surgery, I have no feeling in either breast. My “perfect” alabaster mounds have been stretched and stapled to make up for the lost inch or so of skin that I lost to the second surgery. The areola tissue has once again stretched, (I have later found that this could have been avoided by simply using a different type of suture) and I have reached the sickening conclusion that I sacrificed feeling for an aesthetic beauty that never came.
Time is what I keep reflecting upon now. I have devoted so much time to obtaining the perfect breasts, and I am right back to where I started. Now when I make love to my husband, I usually leave my shirt on; the shame too difficult to bear, and the realization that I will never again feel his touch. I know now that I will never be comfortable being naked in front of anyone. And after 30 years, I finally figured out that God didn’t screw it up. Society screwed it up by making me believe that I wasn’t “right” by having small breasts. God had it just right. He created my body, and wired everything so that when a child suckled from my breast, I was able to nourish him. When my husband played with them, I got excited to the point of orgasm without intercourse. My breasts may not have been suitable for the Playboy magazine, but they did everything they were supposed to do, everything my creator intended them for.
So, now I have this recurring dream, a nightmare of sorts, where I am walking hand in hand with my imaginary mother. We are passing scores of breasts where implants were inserted and then removed, or have grade IV contractures, or have bacteria seeping from open wounds. We pass all of these and I am crying when I come to a pair of breasts with just an areola the size of a quarter.
“I’ll take those“, I say and wrap them up in a brown paper bag to take home.