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What My Breasts Mean to Me Photography Project

With my photography project “What my breast means to me.” I was privileged enough to photograph a diverse range of woman, 26 women in total, one for each month of this ordeal.  They shared their personal stories about their breasts.  It was a healing journey for everyone involved.   Without exposing their identity, this allowed these women to express themselves in the photoshoot and write their own stories.  This helped change how they felt about their breasts and go from Vulnerability to Empowerment!  

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25.    CUP SIZE C – I’ve never liked my boobs. Too small, too saggy and wrong shape.  I’ve judged my femininity on my boobs.  However, they’ve fed my kids, brought joy to my husband and I’ve learnt to accept them.  I had one man tell me I couldn’t wear singlet tops to course as it distracted the males there.  I was 16 and it was the middle of summer out on a farm!

26.    CUP SIZE  – I loved my breasts, but my breast had other ideas.  But I chose life and here I am.

23.    CUP SIZE D – Personally, I don’t know what all the fuss about titties really are?   To me they have been an annoyance from the moment I got them.  To me they are lumps of meat on the front of my chest.  They came in handy when feeding my children.  They have been useful at times in the bedroom.  I love jokingly refer to them as the taps!  Apart from that they are just boobs.
 

24.    CUP SIZE D - I love my boobies, they cost me $10,000 and the best money I have ever spent ever.  After 4 girls and breastfeeding for 12months each.  I had nothing left, didn’t even full an A CUP.  Big decision and went as natural as possible, with tear drop look.  Best thing I have ever done, feel like a woman now.  You can touch them if you like and happy to get them out anytime.  At least I can always see where I’m going as my high beams are always on.
 

22.    CUP SIZE  DD – I think the truth is, today was a way of showing myself how truly comfortable I am in my own skin!!  How I have healed myself to become whole again. I’ve been powerless, I’ve been strong, now I'm who I was always supposed to be.  I’ve experienced more than most & I'm grateful for that, because I know what I'm made of!! After viewing the photos, I realised “I have great boobs” and these boobs have feed my four children and they still look great!    

A diverse range of woman shared personal stories about their relationship with their breasts. Accompanied by compelling images by Photographer Gayle Clearwater

21.    CUP SIZE B – As a woman with smaller boobs, I have had numerous negative comments on their size.  Which have made me feel less of a woman because of it.  But I am now at the age where those opinions DON’T bother me.  These boobs have fed my babies.  These boobs have nourished my children and what more could I ask for?? 
These boobs rock!!

20.   In February 2015 I turned 40 years old and I was so excited.   I was looking forward to an awesome new decade and wondered what adventures would be coming my way.  Six months later I was under anaesthetic, getting my right breast removed to save my life.  Diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at age 40 was definitely not in my plans!  Chemo was rough, radiation exhausting. The loss of my breast was confronting.  The loss of trust in my own body was worse.  Eventually I decided I needed to safeguard my wellbeing and have my left breast removed also.  Before cancer had a chance to sneak back in. This was a decision I never regretted but I mourned the loss of my essential girly bits. And there's nothing quite like looking down, with no 'boob shelf' to compensate, to show your belly shape and how many chocolate bars you shouldn't have had!  There were so many low, terrifying moments during my cancer journey, confronting my own mortality. But where there is dark, there is always light.  I am in no doubt as to how strong I am mentally and emotionally. I know exactly just how very loved I am. There is no question that I am essential to my husband, my 3 children, my family, my friends. So much love, so much support - it would seem I am a pretty good person.  In March of this year (2019) I returned to Dunedin to undergo full breast reconstruction surgery.  I was equal parts gut churningly fearful and the epitome of excited anticipation. Seven hours later, my surgeon had taken what he needed from my back to rebuild my front and one look down my hospital gown reassured me I'd done the right thing.  I felt whole again.  Before life threw me a curve ball, I'd had a pretty good relationship with my boobs.  They caught my husbands' attention. They fed 3 beautiful babies. They held my tops away from the 'belly bits'. They were even known to keep my armpits warm at night now and again. But I never really, truly appreciated them until they were gone. At times I even found fault with them  "shame they aren't perkier, be good if they were firmer, if only they were a little bigger". They were my breast friends and I wish I had loved them a little more.  Now I have 'new friends'. They are far from 'perfect' but they are awesome. I have a little more surgery coming up. Lefty has stretched and moulded with the implant, to look like a relatively normal breast but Righty is struggling against the damage from radiation. So, my surgeon is going to help it along a wee bit and I'm looking forward to seeing the end result. It has been a mammoth effort and not without its pain and setbacks. But here I am with a brand spanking new set and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.  My surgeon tells me once I get nipples done, I'll be astounded at how good it looks. I don't know if I want them though, do I want my boobs on high beam all the time?  Might just get some stick-on googly eyes!  Throughout the last four years I've had so many feelings about this body. Never has it been so important for me to love the skin I'm in. This body of mine has been through the wringer and here it still is. What a machine!  Bangers, boobs, baps, knockers, melons, jugs or Charlies. Whatever you call them - just love them. Thrust those girls forward ladies and get on and live your best life!  We deserve it.

19.  - In 2018 I had felt that my life was getting back on track, I have moved on with a great plan to enjoy every moment.  Unfortunately by the middle of 2018 I had attended family funerals of aged relatives. Shortly after the funeral run, I was sent an appointment letter to have my regular mammogram. At the appointment the radiographer took a few more shots than usual. Obviously she was being diligent. Then I was told to wait outside, where the specialist and the radiographer were discussing the shots. The radiographer thought she had seen a shadow in my right breast, high up by the armpit area and had trouble capturing it. After diligent discussions I was sent home.  I check my breasts daily, have done for many years as I get cyst regularly in my left breast (some I’ve got GP  medical advice for). I have been lucky. I received a call for another appointment for the 18th of January. I still wasn’t worried “it will be what it is” which had happened before. More shots were taken this time. They asked me to wait while they looked at these shots. I was taken into another room and introduced to the doctor. The doctor asked if she could do a biopsy to investigate.  After, I was sent home again. A week later I was called back - a little nervous now, it was my birthday. I had told my friend Christine that I had a biopsy done, she offered to come with me for the results.  I was taken to a room where the doctor and his intern were waiting. No one to my knowledge had ever had cancer in our immediate family. Was I to be the first? The doctor/surgeon explained that on my right breast I had two tumours no. 1 which was 4mm wide and No. 2 was just on 1cm and were 5cm apart on the same radius (radius 9mm) both tumours were very close to my chest wall. I was brassed off because it was not on my left breast, if I had to lose one well that one would have been better eradicating the cyst problem. He explained that one was very close to doubling in size and spreading so we had to work quickly to make a decision. He advised that at that size & placement I would have had no chance of picking them up. The surgeon discussed the difference between Breast Conservation and mastectomy. Having had 2 lifesaving surgeries in Christchurch prior was not easy but made me more resilient. 

18.    CUP SIZE GG - I wish people would see me rather than my big boobs first.  People always think it’s ok to fondle and comment about them?  It’s not a compliment!!  Try carrying 3.4kgs on the front of your chest!  I love my boobs and they feed my babies and they are all natural.  My boob song of choice is “Milkshake by Kelis”.

17.    CUP SIZE DD - My boobs are my boobs!  Stretch marks and all, they have feed two beautiful babies and gone through weight gain and weight loss.  Being sexy is not always about boobs and butts!  It’s about how you speak, the way you walk and the way you think.  My boobs are my boobs!

16.    CUP SIZE D - I dislike how big my areolas are.  I don’t like how one of my boobs are bigger than the other.  But I like that they are big ish and I’m still confident about wearing a bra.

15.    CUP SIZE C - I’m proud of my boobs.  They’re my boobs and I love them.  Sometimes I wish they were bigger.  My boobs are perky!  My boobs are for me not for you!

14.    CUP SIZE C - Me and my skin sacks have a love hate relationship.  Even though I hate my stretched biscuit nip tits, they fed both my babies.  I’m saving to give them an upgrade.

13.    CUP SIZE - My Titties don’t define me; they are part of me.  Bonnie and Clyde love gravity a bit too much, my nips look like choc chips, but I love them!!  Guys think their opinion is a matter of fact, but always falls on deaf ears.

12.    CUP SIZE E/F - To be honest this is weird; I never talk about my boobs!  But if I was to say anything about them it would be that they helped me feed my two beautiful  babies.  They keep me feeling sexy even through the back pain.  I love my boobies!  
I wouldn’t change a thing!

11.    CUP SIZE C/D - The thing I like most about my breasts is that they are a lot smaller than they were, as I once was a size CUP H and after the breast reduction, I am a CUP C/D now.  The thing I don’t like is all the scaring from the surgery, but I wouldn’t change it. I feel so much better and no more physiotherapy on my back after years of pain.

10.    CUP SIZE DD - What do my boobs mean to me? To me my boobs mean pain and trauma.  This is because at the age of 15 an older man thought it was okay to touch me without my permission. This led to a great distrust in men, because I thought they would all be like that. But from this experience my boobs also mean strength and courage, because I have learnt to move past all the bad and overcome most of the pain and trauma. These days women need to show skin and cleavage in order to be sexy, but if they show too much then they’re a slut. It’s unfair for women to be treated like “pieces of meat” or just something for men to use.

9.    CUP SIZE E - At puberty my breasts developed fast and by that, I mean like the drop of a penny. For years I was unhappy with them as it gave me the wrong attention. From boys undoing my bra without permission to the embarrassing runs in P.E. class and the endless comments of my boobs, it took a toll on my self-esteem. I felt like they were always over sexualised which made me feel body shamed and lowered my     self-confidence. However, I have a hate/love relationship with my hobbly bobbly boobs. They are a part of me, and I have to deal what I have got, so should everyone else. I’ve learnt what people have to say doesn’t mean it has to affect me mentally and contribute to my self-esteem and I wished I learnt this years ago. Society standards of sexualism don’t mean it has to apply to you because its only you that has to be happy about your body. Everyone has a right to use their body at your own discretion. If you feel good flaunting a little cleavage, flaunt it baby. Feel good about yourself. No one should ever stop you from being yourself because in the end boobs are boobs. More self-love and body positivity need to be spread in this world and it only starts with you.

8.    CUP SIZE DD - What my boobs mean to me.  Mainly a source of pain and nuisance, most of the time.  They may look pretty good, but they make buying clothes pretty tough.  Since my hysterectomy 8 years ago, they have become my only female functioning parts.


7.    CUP SIZE D - What my boobs mean to me?
I’ve never really thought about this question a lot, as when I was younger, I never really
liked my boobs.  I resented them a lot, thinking they always got in the way of things and I thought they were only for men.  But as I have got older, I began to accept that my boobs are a part of me and there isn’t anything I can change about it.  I began to accept them as not an object for men but part of my femininity.  Ever since I was young, I’ve had this small hole in my chest and the size of my boobs helps cover it nicely!

6.    CUP SIZE DD/E - Most of us are aghast with how women don’t have a voice in Saudi Arabia.  I had to take my partner to my specialist appointment so he could request an investigation into a breast lump. My pleas, up to that point, fell on very deaf ears.

5.    CUP SIZE A/B/C  - I remember being so self-conscious when my breasts started developing, I started     walking in a hunched over way in reaction to the older generation saying of the time ‘stick your headlights out.’  I preferred hanging out with boys for most of my school years, they were more interested in doing activities and playing games; socialising was straightforward, not ‘catty’’. But, at 11 the arrival of breasts changed my status to “Tits Taylor” and while this moniker was spoken affectionately and in fun to me, inevitably I experienced changes to my social landscape.  One consequence of having noticeable breasts from an early age equated with the belief that I was sexually active. In fact, I was a bit of a nerd, but unlike some others, I was not bullied due to this conjured perception.  It is sad, that at that time, in my small hometown that this perception allowed me to be free to be myself, say ‘no’ and achieve academically. Another girl had ‘virgin’ stickers stuck to her back daily until she left school, prematurely. It wasn’t until experiencing other schools, in other places, where I discovered that sexual undercurrents did not have to be such a determining feature of status and achievement.  Shyness about my breasts continued into adulthood and when I found a lump at age 47 it took me a few months to rock on up to a Doctor.  Now, many medical people have seen my breasts inside and out and to keep check on my lumpectomy I have annual mammograms, hence the photo with the glass plate.  My surgery site has filled with fluid and so the operated-on breast is larger than the other. I buy a B cup bra but one side remains unfilled and the other is a bit tight, so probably I’m an A and a C! After surgery I was told to wear cotton bras with no underwire. Yes, they are available in the maternity section, not an ideal solution. I wrote to Bendon (bra manufacturers) to explain my situation along with the statistics that 1 in 9 women are affected by breast cancer in New Zealand. That’s a lot of ladies needing bras but my request was declined.   Lacy, padded, underwire bras look better on a hanger and sell better. Shame.     

4.    I always hated my big boobs.  Too Big!  Well with my diagnosis I got a reduction…...  Be careful what you wish for!

3.    I considered/consider my boobs as a pair of failures.  When I started to     develop, they were automatically saggy.  The nipples are so close to the bottom of my breast tissue.  I remember vividly my 13-year-old self getting in a shower with my best mate going “wow they are saggy!”  So, growing into my sexuality I never showed or allowed boyfriends near my boobs, as I was so ashamed.  It wasn’t until my first serious boyfriend reassured me that he liked them, that I got naked.  Since then with sexual partners and my hubby, I’ve got naked, but the shame and embarrassment is still there.  I even remember my husband when dating was rubbing around and I asked him what was he doing? His reply was “trying to find your nipples, oh all the way down there.”  I’ve never forgotten.  I can’t even smash them together in a push up bra for cleavage, as so far apart and they look rippled and weird.  When breastfeeding, I thought yay, finally they will come in handy, but because of my P.C.O.S.  I had supply issues, so even that was a failure to me.  I endure them until I can afford a lift, so that I can finally be proud of them.

2.    CUP SIZE B/C - I like the fact that at my age I can get away with not wearing a bra (if I want) without gravity taking them down to my knees.  I dislike the scarring due to numerous operations.  But they are mine and they tell a private story.

1.    CUP SIZE DD - Dam Gravity!  Built 4 bonnie babies.  They’re given! Not taken!  Balance body beautifully.  Make me who I am.  They are mine and not to be abused!

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