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‘i can see your nipples, sweetheart’: girl vs pubescent body

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

I love denial. I always have. If I don’t think that anything really happened, is it really true?

I blatantly ignored the fact that I got my period for the first time, to the point my mother had to convince me I had with some interesting bathroom evidence. This was made even worse by my dad’s loving gesture of flowers and chocolate which was closely followed by a door in the face and a ‘how dare you tell him mum!’ I love to push things out of my brain so that I don’t have to deal with it. It’s a fabulous way to live. When you’re young it’s easy:

‘Ally did you bite your brother?’

‘No, Mummy I didn’t.’

‘You were the only one in here with him and he has bite marks all over him.’

‘Nothing happened.”’ (Ally swiftly exits the room like a trained ninja.)

As I got older and only occasionally attacked my brother, the denial continued to develop in new and strange ways. My body inevitably became a major source of denial. Just like any preteen gal I struggled with newly sprouted leg hair, the odd disastrous pimple and a wave of new, strange hormones. Just before hitting the super awkward teen phase I was heavily involved in athletics and somewhere between the 1500 metre run and the high jump I grew boobs. Not your normal 12 year old’s chest, but a whopping great set that could rival a girl in her late teens. But, don’t worry, I completely denied even having them.

My breasts weren’t an issue for me. I lived in a lovely unpoppable bubble of denial; my mother, on the other hand, did not. Just as any fabulous mother would she used her love and affection to coax me into believing:

‘I can see your nipples, sweetheart.’

‘I don’t have nipples.’

‘Ally it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s completely normal.’

‘I don’t have boobs, Mum.’ (Ally death stares mother and slams door.)

This lovely charade of mother vs daughter’s boobs went on until at some point she cracked and showed me a photo. Wind in my hair, legs outstretched leaving all the other girls far behind me; I looked like a winner — a winner with budding breasts poking through her white athletics top.

‘What’s that?’

‘Sweetheart, those are your breasts.’

Maybe I was starting to free the nipple a little early? Maybe my inner feminist was making its way out through my growing chest? Or maybe I was just an oblivious, denial loving preteen who should have worn a sports bra to run in a white t-shirt.

Many young girls today feel the pressure to stuff their bras, take selfies and emphasise their growing assets as a means of adjusting. While I eventually did give in to my mother’s demands and agree to a modest bandeau style crop top, I was unaware of the affect my body was having on other people and unlike a lot of girls today I really didn’t care.

My denial didn’t last very long though, barely making it to my 13th birthday before realising how disgusted I was with my changing shape. Embarrassed that my breasts bounced and jiggled when all my friends happily paraded around flat chested I eventually gave up athletics.

It’s not all bad, though — at least there was a brief time in my life where I was content and absolutely fine about my body, something that sadly I can’t always say at my age now. The saddest part of my preteen bod was that as soon as I became aware of my breasts, hips and hair I immediately felt ashamed. I had something different to the rest of my friends. Shouldn’t my breasts be accepted just as my friends’ bodies were?

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