I've never really felt self-conscious about having a small chest. It's not that I have a healthy body image; it's that I have an unhealthy one, and there are just so many other body parts to worry about that take priority.
But I recently learned that my fiancé's former girlfriend had, let's just say, an ample bosom, and this information is doing all sorts of weird things in my head. For example, when he hugs me, does it feel strange? When he spoons me as we sleep is he thinking there's something missing? When he watches me walk is there some kind of mental adjustment that must be done?
And how come he never told me? I don't exactly know how he would have worked it into conversation, but still.
"Maybe that stuff mattered to me when I was a teenager," he tried to explain. "But now it's about how I feel about a person, it's not about how they look," he said, making it worse.
"How wonderful that you like me now that you no longer care about being with someone attractive!" I harrumphed.
As a courtesy, I loudly explained to him what he should have said.
When people say what you tell them to say, it feels better than you'd think but not as good as if they'd come up with it on their own.
But as I said, I've never really felt self-conscious about having a small chest. This is perhaps because a large one runs in my family, and I've watched the kind of brassieres required to keep that situation looking perky -- there's a whole lot of underwire and hooks and eyes and straps that dig in. I'm the kind person who occasionally feels that bracelets are confining, who finds layers uncomfortably problematic if the seams don't line up or the sleeves aren't laying flat -- so the less that squeezes and digs in and rumples or ripples, the better.
Plus, as someone who grew up overweight and who constantly feels there's a fat ghost over my shoulder, ready to jump into my body and puff it up, I'm thankful for any part of me being small.
To further drive the neurotic point home: Occasionally I'll don one of the aforementioned brassieres with the hydraulics and the padding and the lift and the separation -- the kind of apparatus that's so uncomfortable I want to rip my hair out and hang myself with it -- and then I'll look in the mirror and turn to the side and wonder if the fantastic pseudo boobs make me look fat.
So here's the way I found out about Ex-Bosoms: Fiancé and I were walking out of a store and a woman who was leggy and confident and walking with purpose -- like someone in deodorant commercial -- passed us. I asked if he saw her and said she's what I imagine his ex looks like. He asked if I'd ever seen a picture of her, and I said no. I didn't tell him it wasn't for lack of trying. Apparently she's as private as I am public. I can't get a zit without recording a podcast and writing an article about it, but she isn't even on Facebook.
He said she had a different build than the women who passed us. I think he intended it to make me feel better, but I'm more skilled at this game than he is, so I was able to see his "she had wider hips" and raise it to, "Oh, did she have a big chest?"
He squirmed a little before answering.
I felt bad that I was grilling him -- it wasn't coming from a place of jealousy so much as curiosity. But the more he hesitated to tell me about her chest, the more it seemed he thought this was something that would bump me. And the more he seemed to think it would bump me, the more I wondered if it should.
Which brings us to today, where I'm still wondering how to feel about it. I suppose it doesn't really matter, because his past is his past, and how I feel about it won't change anything.