This is a fond look (well, alternately fond/horrifying) back at an innocent time during the 1950s when I so longed to grow up, to be older. Silly me. Silly impatient me.
The summer before I turned 11 was one of the most frustrating times of my life. My best friend Sarah shared my angst, which centred, of course, on our chests. We didn’t want chests! Chests were for babies. No, we longed for breasts. Humongous things like movie stars had weren’t necessary; modest perky ones would do. But not this… absolute flatness!
Sarah and I were determined to do something about this sad injustice. If we couldn’t have decent breasts now, then we would have to make it look like we had them.
We modified our posture. For weeks, everywhere we went, we led with our chests. But after a while, all this did was give us sore backs and tired shoulders.
Next we tried arm-and-upper-body exercises:
We must! We must!
We must increase our bust!
Every day, 40 repetitions, for three weeks. Out came the measuring tape: no change! We were in despair.
Finally Sarah had a radical idea. It worked for her cousin, she said, so let’s try it. I was game. Nothing else had worked. Time was fleeting as school was about to start, and we wanted – in time for the First Day – breasts!
She came over to my house when no one else was home, carrying the necessary items in a bag. We sat on the braided rug on the floor of my bedroom, took the things out of the bag and spread them in front of us. Would these be the ingredients of our salvation? I sure hoped so!
For two hours we cut and sewed, sewed and cut and fluffed and poked and sewed some more. At last we were finished. We held them up, appraising them. They wouldn’t win any beauty contests, I thought. Each creation consisted of two small mounds of lumpy cotton covered with cloth, held together with a few stitches, and both mounds were perilously basted on to a narrow white elastic band. Well, they’d have to do.
Time to try them on! With grimaces and tugging and twisting, we each pulled our handiwork down over our heads until they rested against our chests, appropriately jutting out in front. We put our blouses back on and looked in the mirror. Ta-da! It was a miracle! We had breasts! We both looked about, oh, 32A I’d say. But it was a start. Amazing what a little cotton, elastic, cloth, needles and thread can do.
That evening, as a rehearsal for school, I decided to give my masterpiece a practice run, and went out to ride my bike. I felt really good… until the mean boy from next door noticed the brand-new bumps on my chest and teased me mercilessly, riding boldly near me on his bike, succeeding at a few well-aimed drive-by jabs. But he was just a kid, a couple of years younger than I, so I easily dismissed his crudeness.
First Day of School. Every year in September, our principal gave us a clothing dispensation: we were allowed to wear ‘real’ clothes, and postpone uniforms ’til October. Sarah and I steeled ourselves for our great public breast outing.
We walked to school together, then chatted in the schoolyard, arms crossed over our chests to alleviate our self-consciousness… which rather defeated the whole purpose, but hey, we were new at this. At the bell, we made our way to our classrooms. So far so good. Unfortunately we weren’t to be in the same class, so our Falsies Support Group of Two ended right there. After sharing final uncertain glances and a hard hand-squeeze for courage, we parted and entered our respective rooms.
The first part of the morning went well. I felt splendid! Confident! Pretty! I’d put on a white nylon blouse and dark plaid skirt. Since the blouse was rather sheer, I wore an undershirt beneath it… and under that went my pretend breasts. I looked around at the other girls. Most of them had real breasts (since many were already 12 – I was young for my grade), but I didn’t care; now I fit right in.
The morning wore on as the teacher asked questions and we were expected to raise our hands with answers. Suddenly I became aware of a problem! Every time I raised and then lowered my hand, my falsies slipped. Lower… and lower. A half-inch… another half-inch… another half-inch… Finally I looked down, and, to my horror, saw two well-formed bumps… around my waist! Oh the shame of it! Immediately I crossed my arms over my waist – incidentally exposing my now-flat chest.
The rest of the morning crawled, ’til finally at the noon bell I shuffled, red-faced, hunched over, arms still crossed, to the Girls’ Lavatory and into a stall to rip the offending bumps off my person. No, I didn’t flush them down the toilet… though that was tempting. But I didn’t keep them, either, which is kind of too bad. Because they would have made a cute souvenir, along with the teensy 32A bra my mom bought for me the very next year.