Helen Newman may be as flat as a pancake, but she’s learnt to look on the bright side.
I sometimes wonder how I would manage if I were a teenager today, in an age when silicone breasts have reached the suburbs. Would I be destined for a stealth boob job – and a faulty implant scare – before I could fill out my Ucas form?
As a flat-chested teenager in the 1980s, I was at least spared those pressures. But life was still difficult. It wasn’t so much the occasional playground taunts of ‘flat as a pancake’ as a yearning for a rite of passage that failed to materialise. Friends would tell impossibly glamorous tales of being measured in the M&S bra department, but my call-up never came.
Eventually, my mother left two 32AA bras on my bed and that was that. For years, walking through a lingerie department would make me feel slightly queasy.
Leafing through a teenage diary, I’m surprised by how seriously I took the whole thing. I wrote about how I could never blow up balloons, how I couldn’t get past the small tight-ball stage to the smooth expanding lightness, and how my breasts were the same. I was a 16-year-old balloon that had never blown up, a damp squib, full of pent-up tension, seeking an outlet, but unable to channel itself.
Oh dear. I probably needed to get out more, instead of reading books. But books helped, particularly Nora Ephron’s Crazy Salad, which I raided from my mother’s bedside table. In it was an essay about small breasts, containing references to optimum sexual positions as advocated by an interfering almost mother-in-law. Ephron might as well have been describing the position of the moons orbiting Jupiter, but I remember feeling as though I’d stumbled upon a secret society of people like me.
I hadn’t – well, not yet. My antennae were primed for role models, but sadly few came until the mid 1990s when the waifish Kate Moss heralded the arrival of heroin chic. For the student me, stuck in the late 1980s, university life brought new challenges. Here my strategy was to ignore my ‘pancakes’, in cropped vest-top bras, which were easy to buy because you didn’t have to deal with cup sizes, but which I now see didn’t enhance what little there was.
Once, on a sticky dance floor, a boy lurched over and said, ‘Why haven’t you got any tits?’ Charming. Another time, when asked by the doctor whether I had checked my breasts for lumps, I had to sheepishly admit that I’d assumed they’d be too small to warrant it.
Mostly, though, I muddled through. In the generation-X film Singles, Bridget Fonda, contemplating a breast enlargement, asks Matt Dillon whether he wishes hers were bigger. ‘Sometimes,’ he replies. That pretty much sums up how I feel to this day. Sometimes – on the beach, on a blind date – I have minded not having cleavage in my repertoire. On a bad hair day – or bad face day – I can’t wheel out the big guns, as it were. Decent-sized breasts are shorthand for a certain kind of sexiness. Not having them can make it harder to find your groove.
Men have never paid mine as much attention as I’d like. But then imagine having whole conversations directed at your bosom, as some women do. As for the small band of men who think that, cringe, small ones are more juicy, I’m not sure I want to be fetishised, thank you very much. That may sound self-defeating, but I suppose I’d rather be loved despite my small breasts than for them. Nor am I a fan of obvious fakery such as chicken fillets and Wonderbras. Who wants to be prosecuted for false advertising?
These days, having filled out a bit and become au fait with underwired moulded cups, while not among the well-endowed I’m not as obviously flat-chested as I once was. I’m still out of proportion, though. I wouldn’t mind looking boyish if my bottom half matched, but from the waist down I’m pure peasant stock, the worst of both worlds. It’s what a friend of mine calls ‘two-woman syndrome’.
On the plus side, I can sleep on my front, jog with comparative ease (if I weren’t so lazy) and make a svelte dinner-party guest from the waist up. All in all, I like what little I have and if you offered me bigger ones I’d turn them down. A smaller posterior? Well, that’s a different story.
Original Article here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9492689/Flat-chested-…-and-proud.html