This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Kaajal Shivdasani. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“My Mom Thinks You Need To Wear A Bra From Now On. She Saw You While Dancing”

One of the reasons the festivals in India excited me so much was because my society friends and I would always gather after school, to practise our dance moves, for the performance that we would give the society.

We used to have a few function days for Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas, Independence Day, and many more.

“My Mom Thinks You Need To Wear A Bra”

On the days of the function, all the allotted society aunties would dress us up and put make up for us. We would get on stage and dance our hearts away. The cheering, clapping made us believe we were making a difference in people’s lives! That we are wonderful dancers and would do this all our lives.

Little did I know that there was a difference between dancing at 11 and dancing at 12.
I did not know the difference, until one day, my friend tells me in my ear “My mom thinks you need to wear a bra from now on, she saw you while dancing on stage last night, they were shaking a lot. She could even see your nipples. You should try trainer bras”

My heart sank! I was so embarrassed. I tried to act okay and thanked her for her concern. But my confidence dropped right there! I am 26 today and I am still ashamed to have such big breasts, which do not look aesthetic to the society.

All the girls who I hung out with had petite and skinny bodies. I was the one at 12 whose breasts started developing when I wasn’t even aware. If only my breasts would give me a heads up or ask me if it’s time haha.

My mother was always busy at work and was also pursuing her Masters at that time. She had exhausting days and had very little time for my studies or for me. I didn’t want to talk about what my friend told me as I was ashamed nor did I want to bother my mom. I decided to ask my parents to buy an inner vest for me(not bras because I was ashamed maybe).

Puberty Was Bad For Me

I started wearing an inner vest to school, while playing, etc.  They were growing. I started getting pimples. My face was oily all the time. I started putting on a lot of weight. My face was filled with pink marks. Underarm hair was growing. Facial hair here and there. This shouldn’t surprise you, I hated my body!

None of this was happening to any of my friends. It was only me. Puberty was bad for me. I had no one to talk to because no one was experiencing this. My sister was preparing for her Board exams. My mother was always busy. It was something that I had to deal with on my own. Not knowing that bottling up things cause immense pain, permanently.

I was 13 when I spoke to my mom about bras and it being time now. She gave the kind of bras she wore. Grandma types. I didn’t care. I just needed them because my breasts were big and had even begun sagging.

I still wonder why my breasts sag. Because I didn’t wear bras at the right time. Because of the weight, I kept losing and gaining. Whether it’s genetic. What is it?
At 13, I was the most large-chested girl in my school and in my society. Bras don’t make your breasts look smaller they just hold them. They give you shoulder pain and neck pain. They give your breasts a weird shape (If you’re wearing those bras with the pointy thing where the nipples are) I even remember wearing my school sweater all year round so I could cover my oversized breasts.

I stopped running, jumping, dancing with confidence because it scared me, my breasts move a lot. The boys in my society were nasty and said terrible things to me on my face about my body and breast size. There were times they even tried to touch them. I wondered what they spoke about me behind my back.

All this while, my society friends still had no breasts. Puberty didn’t hit them yet. I believed maybe they were skinny; they were gifted. I am “healthy”; a subtle way to say fat. And that is why my breasts grew. Maybe something was wrong with me.

Why don’t they have pimples? Why do the boys talk to them more? Why do I feel left out? Why am I being made fun of? Why do they make jokes about me?

Those friends are still skinny and have small breasts, the kinds you need not wear bras for. The kinds you can wear sexy bras and short tops not having to worry about any boob spillage. The kinds you can wear low neck tops and still look classy not as per society’s words “slutty”

I’ve Always Been Ashamed To Show My Body To My Boyfriends

I am 14 now. My body is becoming bigger. I hate wearing tight clothes. They show the size of my breasts. I only wear loose tee-shirts. But my friends can wear sleeveless, tank tops, tight dresses.
I keep pulling my tee-shirts at the chest area to make them lose. I fix them on chairs so they get a bigger size.
Birthday dress shopping always was a horror for me. All the fancy dresses were sleeveless, tight or made me look fat!
My mother used to accompany me for days and hours to find a perfect dress to make me happy. But nothing made me happy. I hated shopping because it made me feel so shitty so ugly.

I’m 15 now, everyone in my life is concerned about my weight. My teachers, my Principal, my family members, my friends even my School Rickshaw walla!
I promised myself I will work hard for boards and then after exams, I will join a gym.
I did just that. I lost 10kgs then. But my breasts were still big and saggy.

I have always been ashamed to show my body to my boyfriends. It’s a part of intimacy, so we do it. But I have never been comfortable. I don’t even like to talk about it because I am ashamed.

At 20, my boyfriend tells me that my breasts look like empty water balloons and that they remind him of his granny. He points out the holes on my face because of the pimples I had at 12. My heart is sinking again.

At  22, my other boyfriend says he loves my breasts.
At 24, my other boyfriend says he is crazy about my body and breasts and that I am beautiful. Extremely beautiful. And he wonders why I have body image issues.

I confide in him. I tell him the trauma, he feels for me. He understands me. He validates me. He invests his time in helping me love my body.  He has been doing this for almost 4 years now.  He is not tired of helping me. I feel like a burden. He wants me to love myself.  But it’s still very hard.

I have spoken to a few girlfriends about this. After reading so many stories online, I got the courage to talk about it to the girls in my life. I was ashamed that I would be looked down upon by my friends but surprisingly they understood my pain and tried to help me realize that I have been gifted with my assets. I tell them, they may look good from the outside when covered with clothes, the bras lift them up but in actual life, they fall down. Oh, you Gravity!!!!

Isn’t Porn All Fake?

My friends say its common with women, porn is all fake. I know this, but I still can’t seem to get over this sadness.

I can’t wear sexy bras because in India I can’t find bras of my size. Padded bras are sexy with good prints but then I look like I have 2 gigantic mountains on my body. My breasts spill out of my bras from every corner. At home, without a bra, my back hurts.

I do feel happy when I see how happy my breasts make my boyfriend feel. But even in that happiness, there is fear. Fear of being hurt.  Fear of knowing I am not good enough.

I wonder when I can feel good about my breasts. I have a friend who hated her breasts. It took her years but now she says she loves them and she feels confident again.
She has tried to talk to me, to help me. I hope to get the same confidence and self-love she has for herself. Even after the trauma, she went through.

We all have our stories. There are some women, so strong, so powerful, they come out of the fire, built not burned. I strongly believe that I will be like them too. Someday. I know it! But it’s not today.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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