Asymmetry, and boob pillows


My breasts have gotten larger recently because I’ve put on some weight. I’ve put on weight elsewhere too, which stinks generally, but, probably because my chest is literally kind of under my nose, this is the most noticeable place. Now I’m sure some of you, are thinking, “Oh, poor you! People pay good money for that and you got it for free,” but I’ve never been one of those people who wanted to have larger breasts. There were times in my life when my appearance was more important to me than it is now — basically, when I was single and in my 20s and 30s and wanting to be noticed by good-looking jerks at parties — and even then, while I wanted to be attractive, the idea of wanting that area of my body to be bigger made no sense to me. I mean, why would I want to draw attention there? Yes, I’ll admit to having worn my fair share of low-cut dresses, but I’ve generally bought them because I thought they looked good in other ways, and pretty much always ended up wishing they weren’t so damned cleavage-y. I just do not like having conversations with men in which they address my chest instead of my face, or even occasionally glance there, reminding me that they’re not really listening to me. At least if someone is attracted to me because of my face instead of my mind, they’re looking at my face. But I mean, seriously, how much can you think somebody likes and respects you for you if they’d clearly rather be talking to your ass?

Even more unfortunately, my breasts haven’t increased in size evenly. For quite a while now, I’ve been aware that they are not the same. I think this is pretty common, actually. We tend to assume, as humans, that because we have two of so many things — eyes, ears, hands, arms, legs, breasts — that we are symmetrical, but that isn’t true. If you need to be reminded of this, just look at yourself in a mirror reflecting another mirror, so that you see your reflection backwards: it’s fucking weird. You may not be able to tell exactly why – is it my eyebrow that’s drooping or the cowlick that’s backwards or that mole…? – but you know that you look completely wrong. Similarly, it’s not unusual for women’s breasts to be differently shaped and sized. In fact, there’s a term for it, which is, duh, breast asymmetry. Of course, they came up with a term that sounds like a condition, because, one, as with any issue that seems too personal/shameful, like anorexia or infertility or depression, even though it’s fairly common, we don’t all know it is, because nobody talks about it; and, two, the fashion industry needs to keep that old trope going that all women can aspire to be perfect in every way. This is why it made the news when Jennifer Lawrence mentioned a couple of years ago on Jimmy Kimmel that she’d discovered that her apparently perfect breasts were uneven. Hopefully now, thanks to Jennifer Lawrence not having a filter, fewer women will feel like freaks about this stuff.

So anyway, it seems that as my bust has gotten bigger, one side has gotten bigger faster. Sometimes I think it’s all the booming, since my right arm is the one that does most of the control work and that’s the side with the smaller breast, presumably because it gets a better regular workout? Whatever the reason, this makes having larger breasts even more annoying, because my bras still fit on one side, just not really on the other, and that makes bras even more annoying than bras are to begin with. The result is that, these days, I end up a lot of the time with what my husband and I now refer to as “boob pillows,” though really it’s just “boob pillow”: when the one side that’s too large can’t seen to stay contained where it’s supposed to be, and makes an additional lump in my shirt. Of course, everything seems fine when I put the bra on in the morning, the issue only surfaces after I’ve been moving around for a while, or had to bend over and do something, and everything shifts. This happens a lot now, but no matter how many times it happens, I just don’t want to believe it’s a problem that’s going to keep happening. I don’t want to believe that I’ve gotten heavier, or that I have to replace all of my bras — with other bras that won’t fit either, mind you, because, of course, you don’t find bras with asymmetrical cup sizes at your local department store, so I’ll have to get bigger ones and just deal with the fact that they’re baggy-ish on one side. Knowing this, along with the fact that I’m going to have to go into dressing rooms and try on bras, enables the busy and cheap side of me to keep putting off this errand, basically forever. But I’m quite cognizant, in the meantime, that since I’m always worrying about boob pillows, I’m always looking down at my breasts and checking for them, and trying to adjust things, which is probably way worse. Because there’s nothing that draws attention to your breasts like you looking at your own breasts.

And then there’s the idea that’s dawned on me recently, that this is somehow representative of what my life is like in general now: a struggle to keep things in balance that just refuse to stay that way. I have a day job of working on sets as a sound grunt that I do for money. Then Damon and I are developing and trying to promote our Rustle Works games. Then I’m trying to finish a video I’m making for the Code Liberation Foundation, and developing (read: thinking about a lot) an interactive documentary. And I’m also teaching undergraduates how to do sound one day a week. And I’m writing this blog, which actually does take some time, believe it or not. Plus I want to see and enjoy time with my husband, family and friends and have a life, occasionally, and I want to have some time for myself to do things like exercise and sleep…Oh, and I also do still want to have kids, ha ha, which people tell me does take up a little bit of one’s time (and that’s after going through the process of having them, which for me probably means the not-at-all-simple process of adoption at this point). So how the hell does a person make it all work?

I feel like this is the challenge that the modern woman faces. In the same way that I should either decide to cut out carbs or dessert or alcohol or all of the above for a while if I want my breasts to get smaller, I know that I should make a conscious decision to cut something out of my life, to choose which parts of social and personal and career I really want to make a priority. Or, I should accept the fact that this is how it is, I’m stuck with some jobs and commitments I don’t want in addition to the ones I do, schedule things from week to week, know what’s going to get done when and disappoint some people (and maybe myself) in the process because I can’t be superwoman — which is sort of the equivalent of giving in and buying all new bras. Otherwise, it’s going to keep going the way it is now, where I put off the things I can and do the ones I can’t at the last possible minute as stuff just falls by the wayside and I’m trying to shove it back in there and then inevitably…boob pillows. Why, you ask, can’t I just make the conscious choice to cut out carbs? Because I like carbs, because I feel like I deserve and should be capable of having them, because life is not meant to be an egg white omelette. And on some level, carbs (and no, we’re not really talking about carbs any more) are part of my identity, or at least my possible identity. I don’t want to close any of these doors, or at least the ones I could close, because I feel like they’re all me — the filmmaker, the writer, the game designer, the professor, the loving daughter, the supportive friend, the fun aunt — either something I like or something I want or something I feel like I should or could be, if only I don’t give up.

And so I keep trying to impossibly juggle it all, even as I get older and heavier and slower and less capable of doing it. And like with the boob pillows, the more time I spend trying to keep it all in place, the more obvious it becomes, maybe not just to me but to everyone else, that I’m failing. Was I ever capable of doing it all? Probably not, but I think I used to be able to handle it better when I was younger, I think I worked and played harder and slept and exercised and recuperated less. But until I can reconcile myself to the idea that I’m not the person I was (or thought I was), and likely am never going to be some of the people I thought I would be, I’m going to be stuck feeling asymmetrical.

One of these days I really am going to go buy new bras…just as soon as I find the time.

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