Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Big Boobage - the curse

I was blessed/cursed (take your pick) with an ample endowment of boobage. Yup. Having big "boobs" ain't what it's cracked (pardon the pun) up to be. Ask any (honest) full-figured woman. I began getting breasts when I was 10 years of age and i'm turning 40 this year and they've only stopped growing. Sure, I got a lot of wolf whistles and I was proud of my curves, too; but still I wished I wasn't so top-heavy. Too often, it invited the wrong kind of attention, not to mention the backaches, ill-fitting bras, and self-consciousness that came along with them.

Oh, don't get me wrong; I am very grateful that I have them and that they're healthy, thank God. But after my kids were born my breasts just seemed to grow larger and heavier, and inevitably, started heading south fast. To add insult to injury, as time went on, I began to develop rashes underneath my breast area which quickly became yeast infections. This certainly was no fun! You see, large breasts can be really high maintenance! So much so that I seriously considered following a friends example and undergo breast reduction surgery myself. I even went so far as to see a surgeon and set the date for the operation; but I had to back out due to another medical condition at the last minute. Saved me £5500 though.

A major portion of women of all ages and walks of life struggle with large breasts. Struggle, you say? Yes, struggle. For many of us, the weight of the breasts causes sagging (as in my own case) which in turn can cause other problems like perspiration, rashes, and odor.

Women with large breasts encounter issues our smaller-breasted sisters simply don't have - finding a good, supportive bra probably is the least among those issues. Here are just a few more to consider:

Perspiration/Wetness: A bane for the large-breasted! Over time, the weight of the breasts and the inevitable effects of gravity cause perspiration to get trapped in the crevices underneath the breasts and upper ribcage area because of skin-on-skin contact. Definitely not sexy. Yes, wetness underneath the breasts is a constant concern for the big-busted and not reserved just for the summer months, either. Indoor heating systems and wearing layers of clothing during the winter can exacerbate the buildup of perspiration under the breasts even if it's freezing outside. Wearing a good support bra cannot always prevent this accumulation of perspiration; and forget about it with underwires. Unless the bra completely lifts the breasts and is made of quality, absorbent material, you will ultimately have that wetness problem. And with perspiration can come embarrassing,

Odor: You can try all kinds of powders and perfumes to combat this issue (I even know of some women who actually put deodorant underneath the breast area) but the best way to combat odor is to get rid of the wetness problem in the first place.

Rashes: This is nothing to take lightly. Rashes hurt! They're not just itchy; they burn and sting and can be very stinky (odorous and odious). Rashes can be caused by all types of inflammation, causing great discomfort and embarrassment. You should immediately see your doctor should a rash occur to rule out anything serious. Fortunately, most rashes that occur in women with large breasts aren't really serious but they sure as heck can be uncomfortable.

Many women are forced to use expensive prescription and over-the-counter creams, powders, lotions and pills - or resort to smelly "homemade" bathing solutions of vinegar and water - but these remedies - while offering initial relief - usually only mask the symptoms but do not address the causes of these conditions. As long as the breasts lay on top of the ribcage causing that skin-on-skin contact, no amount of cream, powder or lotion can be truly effective. And after awhile, they stop working altogether because the body starts building up an immunity to them.

I had to find a better solution. My doctor told me to wear a cotton bra; but finding a cotton bra that offers decent support in my 42L size is not a simple thing, almost fruitless (or more aptly, fruit-of-the-loom-less). While getting ready for bed one night, feeling miserable and itchy, as usual, I prepared to pull on my favorite nightwear - a big, baggy t-shirt - when I was hit with a sudden epiphany. After glancing at the tagless tag on the t-shirt that said 100% cotton, it dawned on me; the cotton should go under the breasts, not over them. I immediately cut up the t-shirt into strips and tucked one under my breasts, keeping it there throughout the night. The next morning the rash had disappeared. Now the idea of placing cotton cloth in and under areas prone to irritations is not new - nurses in healthcare facilities have long used this as a simple preventative remedy in the care of bedridden patients to help minimize rashes, bedsores, and other like conditions caused by skin rubbing against skin; but I'll tell you, it was new to me and a God-send! It was such a simple solution that instantly brought me real and lasting comfort!

Yes, from nursing mother to middle-age, women all over suffer at one time or another from skin-on-skin contact discomfort underneath the breasts whether from painful, burning rashes or uncomfortable perspiration build-up. You can do as I did and cut up your old t-shirts. Most of the rashes are fungal and need treatment by fungal cream, but there is no permanent solution.

Whether your breasts could put Dolly Parton to shame or are so perky they make the rest of us want to cry, the real key is acceptance - of yourself and the way God made you. That's what really counts. So after hating my boobs for the last 30 years I'm learning to accept them.

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