The moment I really began to notice I had developed breasts that would attract attention was on a bus-ride home from school. A male classmate helpfully pointed out to all the other kids ‘Oh look, Tahlia’s got tits!’
My 14-year-old tomboyish self was mortified. I was still happy in my bubble of flat-chested denial, regardless of what was really happening under my awkwardly-fitting Bonds sports bra.
My larger breasts weren’t always something that had bothered me. I happily went about my schoolwork and social life like any other teen. Being in a school uniform all day, and dressing in a lot of black and not showing off my body (I was an emo kid) I never felt like I was overly sexualised or that I was getting any odd attention for having bigger boobs.
When I was 18 and I had hit an E cup that showed no signs of slowing down any time soon. That was when the panic set in. The important thing to understand here is being the shy kid who always lacked self-esteem, the thought of having my external identifier be ‘the short chick with the massive rack’ was horrifying.
Here I was, standing at five-foot nothing, with terrible posture and arms that stayed firmly and permanently crossed against my chest – as if to diminish any unnecessary attention to the watermelons that were encased underneath.
It was only when I went to university that a friend put the idea of a breast reduction in my head.
And before I knew it, it was all systems go.
With my boobs starting to sit more comfortably in an F cup, I dreamed about the two tiny Cs that I would one day be ever so proud of and ready to flaunt to the world. The thought of wearing delicate and pretty bras that my head wouldn’t fit in made me ecstatically happy.
I made the decision to have a breast reduction in August 2010, and had it booked for the end of November. After meeting with the surgeon and going through all the side-effects, complications and outcomes, I was so impatiently excited after he told me I could get down to my desired size, that I didn’t even pick up on the weird fact that he never actually examined me before I went under the knife. Coming out of the surgery groggy-eyed I was told everything had gone well and after an overnight hospital stay, my new boobs and I went on our merry way.
After a couple months of wearing bras with no underwire, being incredibly vigilant with bio-oil and avoiding anything that could potentially damage my new babies, I was told the swelling had mostly gone down.
So without further ado I rushed to the closest Bras N Things and tried on a handful of beautiful bras – the type that I could never have dreamed to fit in before.
Turning to look into the mirror I was horrified to see my boobs looking large and awkward in my dream cup size.
I spent a lot of time crying and being incredibly angry after that moment. The outcomes from what I considered a botched job tortured me for months. After talking to my surgeon again, he told me that he hadn’t realised one of my breasts was significantly larger than the other – so that changed the outcome.
Like it was my fault he hadn’t inspected me.
In some ways I probably should have had warning bells going off in my head that he hadn’t had a look before I went in for actual surgery. But I look back on the naïve 19 year old, desperately waiting to feel good about her body again. I figured that the surgeon would have performed this procedure hundreds of times. I trusted him.
What is often glossed over when it comes to surgeries like a breast reduction, is it’s not just a physical ordeal. It’s also completely mentally and emotionally draining regardless of whether your procedure worked the way you wanted it too.
In my case, with the desired result not occurring, the spiral of post surgery depression consumed me. I mentioned before I spent a lot of time crying and being angry; I also didn’t speak for a week or two.
I had my last consultant with my surgeon at the end of January.
In July I was angrily screaming to my poor, supportive family that the surgeon had mutilated my body and things would never be the same. I had a distorted perception of what I looked like. Because I didn’t become the C cup I so desired, I blocked out any sign of change and was convinced I was still an E/F cup.
When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see the perky D cups my boobs had now become. I saw myself with the same old big boobs, forever to be known as the short chick with the massive rack – but this time, with the bonus of angry red scars across what was meant to be considered my sexual organ.
In my eyes nothing could have been grosser than my new, apparently ‘improved’ breasts. In my eyes, no male was ever going to see me in a sexual light again.
Gradually over time, with the help of an incredibly supportive family and a great circle of friends that constantly fed my shattered self-esteem, I began to start embracing my new boobs for what they were.
I may have been a cup size larger than what I anticipated but I was still several sizes down to what I had been, and that was a cause for celebration and to stop the self-hate and blame.
Fast forward three years and my boobs and I have made peace with each other. Even the scars don’t look as angry anymore (thanks bio-oil!) The ultimate breakthrough came when I learned to accept my body for what it was. It wasn’t easy, but now there are far better days that worse ones – and ultimately I no longer regret having the surgery.