Boobs, Bikinis and How Running Taught Me To Love What I Don't Have

Boobs. Everyone's got them or everyone wants them.

They bounce, they feed babies, they fill out bikinis and dresses and sexy lingerie, they sell cheeseburgers, timeshares, erectile dysfunction meds and every single men's and women's magazine that has ever been printed.

Well, I don't have them and I don't want them.

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Every woman in my family has big boobs. So when I was 11 and my first friend showed up at school sporting a barely necessary bra, I knew I couldn't be far behind! 11, 12 and 13 came and went. Nothing. Girls seemed to blossom into training bra models all around me. Something must have gone horribly wrong. By 14, womanhood had arrived in every other awkward deodorant necessitating way but my bras were still utterly unnecessary.

Junior high and high school were spent watching other girls fill out swimsuits and homecoming dresses while contemplating when exactly the right time was to start saving for the boob job I was clearly going to need. I was teased by merciless boys and changed under a t-shirt for gym class. I managed to mostly camouflage my void with extremely padded bras filled with silicone devices called chicken cutlets. Certain all this was necessary to look like a girl was supposed to look.

At college, the pressure to look a certain way intensified. Cleavage baring dresses and bikinis on the quad for hot spring days were the norm and it was all still woefully beyond my reach. So I padded and trussed my way through parties and tanning sessions to look the way I was supposed to. 

By my senior year, I had become a bit of a runner. I would hit the treadmill a couple times a week and felt the strength and confidence it had begun to instill in me. I was participating in an event called the senior sneak for my sorority where the freshman make the seniors do ridiculous and embarrassing things. One of our challenges was to ride a whip cream slip and slide topless and then do a lap around one of the fraternity houses. As we commenced our topless lap I threw one arm across my chest for modesty sake and took off. Other ladies had hands and arms loads of chest swinging in every direction. In that moment, I thought...This isn't so bad.

Shortly after college, I started running in earnest. It was the first time in my life where being a less-endowed woman felt like an asset. I could wear any cute sports bra around and run without fear of egregious chafing, doubling up sports bras or taping underneath to prevent extra rub and bounce. In my running group, seeing and hearing about the nuclear weaponry required to control those ladies made me even more grateful for the body I have and finally love.

Running gave me the confidence to appreciate something about my body I had always seen as a critical failing. When warmer weather arrives, I never think twice about stripping off my shirt and running in just my sports bra. So with bikini season looming this body in all it's angular, muscular glory, I will be heading to the beach proudly. Flat chest and runners tan included.

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