My breasts are sisters, not twins.
If my family is reading this, thank you for your constant love and support over the years. Thank you for loving me even when I didn’t love myself.
I remember when I got my first prosthetic breast.
It wasn’t the first time I had been to a lingerie store; I’d had my bras fitted multiple times, but nothing seemed to fit. There was no doubt that my boobs weren’t “normal” – they were noticeably uneven and, as they got larger, it was causing issues with my shirts.
When we went to this new store, I remember thinking that I shouldn’t be there – the bras and lingerie were clearly for old women and I was only twelve. However, they specialised in mastectomy bras, maternity bras, and breast prosthesis. At the time, this meant nothing to me.
We explained my situation to the woman who worked there, and surprisingly, she knew what we were talking about. For the first time in my life, there was a name for this thing I had: Poland Syndrome.
This just means that the muscles on one side of my body are underdeveloped, specifically near the chest area. Some people with Poland Syndrome also have webbed fingers or toes on one side of their body, and some have fingers which are slightly shorter. Me? I have two very uneven breasts. One A cup, one E cup.
When I started going through puberty, the differences in my breasts became more and more obvious. Of course, not all breasts are made equally – that’s just a fact. I don’t know any woman who thinks her boobs are perfectly symmetrical. However, the differences in my breasts were undeniably obvious (to me at least). We’d tried to use a thick sock or those gross stick-on bras to fill out my real bras, but it just wasn’t cutting it.
When my mum took me to that lingerie shop when I was twelve, it was terrifying. It was such a strange feeling putting on a breast prosthetic for the first time. I felt cold and exposed. Of course, I was only with my mother and the woman who worked there, but I still felt extremely vulnerable. Nonetheless, I walked out of the store with a few new bras and my very first prosthetic breast. I named it Squishy. Again, I was twelve.
Growing up, I hated my boobs. I felt like I couldn’t wear v-neck tops, singlets, swimmers, or anything that didn’t completely cover me up. I was so paranoid and self-conscious. While my prosthetic helped me fill out my bras and shirts, I could still notice the difference when I looked in the mirror with just a bra on.
In the years to come, my left breast grew bigger and bigger, and it seemed like my right breast stayed exactly the same. This meant that we had to keep buying prosthetics (spending $200 on a prosthetic and some extra on specialised bras) every year or so.
As a teenager, I was really paranoid about my looks. I was worried that any guy would be turned off by my breasts if they were to find out. I was worried that girls would make fun of me if they were to see me in a bra. We would get changed for PE in the girls change room, and I would purposefully go into a stall so nobody would see me.
I even had this dream that I’d be forced to get changed out of my swimmers at a swimming carnival. In my dream, someone stole my real bra and moved it outside, so I had to go out in front of everyone to get it back. As I walked through the change rooms and out into the pool area, everyone was staring at me – at my boobs. Everyone was laughing at me.
When I was seventeen, I met this guy. We’d been speaking for a few months before we finally met up in person, but when we did, everything clicked.
It was my first time really liking a guy, and he seemed to really like me back. If anything were to ever escalate, I knew I had to tell him the truth about my boobs.
At the time, it felt like this huge thing. I thought he would’ve dropped me as soon as he found out. I was so nervous to tell him, but when I did, he was fine with it. More than fine with it. He was accepting and encouraging, and he assured me he liked me for me, not for whatever is underneath my shirt.
We’ve been together ever since – almost four years now.
As I write this, it’s important to note that your self-worth shouldn’t be defined by some guy. Truthfully, it shouldn’t be defined by anyone else but you. At the time, I was still working on accepting my body for what it is. When you’re seventeen, it can feel like the whole world is judging you. When someone accepts you and your quirks, it can be really reassuring, especially when you need it the most.
Looking back at my experience as I write this today, I suppose I was feeling just like every other teenager: paranoid, scared, and self-conscious (just with a few extra steps). Some people come to love their curly hair or stretch marks. I’ve come to love my boobs.
I still wear a prosthetic breast every single day, as well as a special bra with a pocket sewn into it for Squishy. Swimsuits with pockets are still hard to find, but they’re becoming more and more available every summer. I’ve stopped caring so much about what people think of me and the way I look. I love my body how it is (and nobody really cares anyway). While the thought of getting a breast implant has been put on the table a few times, it’s not worth it for me.
Just like the ‘Y’ in my name, Poland Syndrome and Squishy are just parts of me – parts that I love today.
You should love yourself too. There is no ‘normal’. There is no ‘perfect’. We all have our own quirks and differences, and those are some of the things that make up who you are today.