I was raised to be modest. There was a lot of expectation to keep myself covered. As such I internalized a lot of boob shame. Between sexual assault and coming out as genderqueer this got amplified and I developed a love-hate relationship with my chest.
I’ve always been sexually awkward, in part due to the modesty/purity focused upbringing. I would say that I am still unpacking a lot of this. My chest in many ways has never really belonged to me. Being raised that I was supposed to save my sexuality for marriage, my chest belonged to my future husband. Later it would seem to belong to people who hurt me or society at large, as I was supposed to hyper focused on how others would perceive it, to be more concerned with how I looked versus how I felt. I was envious of people who could let their breasts hang freely, cleavage and all. I was envious of the comfort they had in their body and the freedom they seemed to have which I lacked.
After coming out as genderqueer (a word I was afraid to claim at first, so I actually came out as “bigender” but prefer to describe myself as genderqueer now) I had to fight with the messages that I needed to masculinize to be properly transgender. I knew this wasn’t true, that sex wasn’t totally binary, that non-binary people, such as myself, existed, but still I felt the pressure to hide away my femininity. I couldn’t bind due to health reasons, so hiding my chest under layers of clothing took charge. I hated bras as they seemed to enhance my chest, so I did without.
I warred with myself about if I wanted top surgery and even debated about doing a half job, to have only one breast as some sort of compromise. The comments about amazon warriors and breast cancer associations when I ran this idea by people turned me off of it. Now that I am on medication I am feeling more peace with my femininity. Falling in love with my chest was an unexpected outcome of planning a collarbone tattoo. It wasn’t until the day before my tattoo session that I realized my tits would look great with a tattoo, and I was ok with this.
Tattoos are a powerful way to reclaim your body, and give it your own meaning. I used to want to replace my breast with a spiraling space vortex, but this idea has migrated to be cleavage tattoo, where I can get a genderqueer symbol. We purposefully left room for this on my body as I got my collarbone tattoo.
Suddenly I am not scared of my cleavage or ashamed of my breasts, I’m not preoccupied with purity, I am proud of this part of my body and want it to look good. I have found the peace and freedom which seemed to only exist in other people, and now, this chest is mine.