As a society, we have become really good at shaming others for how they look, what they wear, where they live, who they date, and even how they eat.
Personally, I think one of the darkest rabbit holes we can go down is the one about body shaming. In my experience, it’s almost always been women shaming women … and I have been the brunt of a lot of it: boob-shaming.
In my 43 years on this earth, I have never really been shamed for my weight or what I wear, it always comes down to my full-figured, curvy, voluptuous breasts. And it’s never by men — always by other women.
I can’t tell you how often I have heard things like, “You should really cover those things up,” or even, “You have far too much breast exposed, you should really dress more modestly and professionally.”
Once when I was photographing a wedding, a random women who was not part of the wedding, came up to me and said I should be ashamed of myself. I stared at her blankly, not knowing what she was talking about. She continued to berate me in front of the wedding party, informing me that my shirt was way too revealing — and I was going to hell.
Another time I was at a conference with a group of photographer friends I have known for years. I was wearing a sundress with a jean jacket over it, and yes — I had visible cleavage. One of my colleagues said, “I see you brought the girls out to play today!” It was completely awkward, and I responded with “The girls are always out to play.” She quickly backtracked and said something about how she has no boobs, so who is she to argue with that.
I have been shamed for my boobs my entire life. From the only girl in fifth grade wearing a C cup, which progressed to a Double D by high school, to an adult being told her behavior is inappropriate and unprofessional.
I was blessed with good genes, and parents who encouraged me to dress however I wanted — as long as it was age appropriate and “classy.” I grew up in the ’80’s and ’90’s when clothing was much more conservative than it is now … and the breaking news in body shaming was Shania Twain baring her midriff in her new music video. I remember baring many a midriff in the early ’90’s — but I digress.
When you wear a size DD bra, it is pretty hard to hide your curves, unless you choose to wear baggy sweaters every day.
I have always embraced my breasts — except in the fifth grade when everyone was sing-song chanting “Amy wears a bra … Amy wears a bra!” I have never been ashamed of my body, even now when I am 50 pounds heavier than I would like to be. Simply wearing a v-neck top is going to expose cleavage … and I just can’t understand why some women feel the need to shame me for it.
My ex-husband would always scratch his head at some of the comments I would receive, or about what the other wives would say behind my back. Even if I wore a form-fitted t-shirt with no visible cleavage, he would hear the comments from other women about me flaunting my boobs, and he just couldn’t understand their critique. Even at the beach — where you are supposed to wear a swimsuit — we would hear other women criticize me, saying that my boobs must be fake because they’re so big and perfect (um, thank you?).
I worked in corporate America for years, and I also worked as a server and bartender for years. In all of my experiences, men have always been polite and courteous. Only drunken patrons have ever grabbed at my ass or asked me to “show me your titties.” Never a boss, co-worker, husband’s friends, or friends’ husbands disrespected me and my body. I never experienced any form of sexual harassment or mistreatment because of my body.
When I had a conversation with a fellow writer about body shaming, she shared that she had been shamed for being over-weight when she was younger. I told her I had never experienced anything like that, but I was constantly shamed about my boobs. She thought that was fascinating and encouraged me to write about it.
As I was discussing this with a different friend, well, let’s just say she shocked me.
She proceeded to tell me that even though I may not think that I have been treated differently by men … I have. That I choose to “flaunt my tits” at men in order to manipulate them and get what I want, and that I can’t be pissed at the women who shame me because of that. “You can’t have it both ways, cupcake,” is what she actually said.
I sat there in stunned silence. I was deeply hurt, and most of all — pissed!
Clearly she has her own deeper issues, but I don’t feel it’s fair for her to take them out on me (or anyone else for that matter) in an attack. What she perceives as me “flaunting my tits” is simply me being me and dressing how I have dressed since I was about 16 years old. I have boobs — big, bouncy, curvy ones. I love them, and I think they’re my best feature. Our bodies are beautiful, no matter the size, shape, color, gender or age.
I am tired of having to defend what is a beautiful part of my body.
I wish more women would embrace their bodies (and boobies) and not feel such shame and a need to hide them. (I actually know a woman who wears several layers of sports bras in order to try to flatten them out and make them less obvious, i.e., hide them!)
Over the years, I have come to realize that the women who speak up the loudest are usually the most insecure with themselves and their own bodies. I wish that shaming wasn’t even a thing, though I know that we are all guilty of it in one way or another. Sometimes what we think is an innocent comment — or even what we mean as a compliment — can be construed as shaming and/or criticism by the woman to whom the remark was aimed.
Let’s all make a concerted effort to watch our words more closely, and think about the person whom we are talking to or about. The shaming cycle needs to be stopped, and this truly can start with just one person — YOU!
Read more by Amy Zellmer on Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com/author/amy-zellmer-634
Amy Zellmer is an award-winning author, speaker, and advocate of traumatic brain injury (TBI). She is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, and has created a privateFacebook group for survivors and also produces a podcast series. She sits on the Brain Injury Advisory Council (BIAC) through the Brain Injury Association of America’s and is involved with the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance. She travels the country with her Yorkie, Pixxie, to help raise awareness about this silent and invisible injury that affects over 2.5 million Americans each year.
In November, 2015 she released her first book, “Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal” which received a silver award at the Midwest Book Awards in May, 2016. Her second book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration”is a collection of stories written by brain injury survivors and caregivers and was released November 2016. for more information: www.facesoftbi.com