By: Nikita Haynie
I remember the first time I realized my body was different. I was twelve years old wearing a white T-shirt, blue jean shorts, white reeboks and a windbreaker tied around my waist sharpening my pencil when my teacher asked me to step outside. “Nikita, you need to put your jacket on.”
She then explained because my breasts were noticeable in my white tee shirt it was a distraction to the boys in the class. Nonetheless, I untied the windbreaker and put it on. Fast forward to sixteen years old sitting in my science class. I was wearing a cute pink and black off the shoulder sweater with blue jeans and black boots. Deja Vu is real, my teacher asked me to step outside.
“Nikita, can you put your jacket on?”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well your sweater is cute, but your breasts can be distracting.”
“My mom bought me this sweater.”
“Please put your jacket on, or I will have to ask you to leave class.”
The damage to my confidence during an already developmental period as a young adolescent was devastating. The implications of convincing a teenage black girl that it’s her responsibility to mask her body for the sake of not distracting men speaks to patriarchy. Black girls are never allowed to love their bodies authentically because we are hypersexualized and perceived as “fast”, “mature” and “too sexy” based on our body type. I believe both of the women thought they were well-intentioned; however, these interactions impacted my self-esteem and created significant self-consciousness toward my body.
The constant ridicule and opinions from family and peers about my large breasts, the envy I carried toward my sisters and friends with smaller breasts grew exponentially, especially anytime we went shopping. The assumptions from men about my sexual prowess were disheartening, and I despised the unwanted attention. The excessive judgment of my body manifested significant insecurities, the primary insecurity: DISDAIN FOR MY BREASTS. In 2014 after experiencing significant back pains I inquired with my physician about getting a breast reduction. Immediately the doctor responded: “You will need to lose weight first.” In 2016 I transitioned to a new state to pursue a career opportunity. Two years were spent in excessive chiropractor visits, physical therapy sessions, chronic back, and neck pain. In summer 2019 I decided to schedule a consultation with a surgeon to discuss a breast reduction. Before I could take off my gown the doctor instantly stated, “You need a breast reduction.”
NOVEMBER 20, 2019. My surgery was conducted at Lawrence Memorial Hospital by Dr. Scarlett Aldrich. The surgery lasted six hours and Dr. Aldrich removed three pounds from each breast. A few things I noticed instantly after the surgery: instantly no more back pain and neck pains and my body frame were smaller. The hardest part of recovery has been the mental and emotional processing of the change. The first time I tried on a favorite shirt and it didn’t fit the same I instantly cried. In full transparency, it felt like a piece of me died. My identity had been rooted in having large breasts and undergoing this procedure was bittersweet. A plethora of emotions and questions have plagued my mind since having the surgery: How am I going to look? Am I still attractive? Am I going to like having smaller breasts? What if the surgeon messed up? How do I get used to my new body? Malebo Sephodi said: “When you start believing that your perceived flaws are just that – perception…” and the reality is my body is beautiful regardless of breast size. Society has deceived black women into believing the worst about our bodies: our breasts are too big, lips too full, hips too wide and ass too big but when white counterparts imitate us, it’s beautiful (a post for another day). I wish we lived in a world that loved us in our fullness.
For so long I held onto the criticisms and allowed them to alter my acceptance of my body in its fullness. I have scars from the surgery; these are my battle scars symbolizing the battles I fought through of loving my body. The healing process is ongoing and in time the appearance of the scars will minimize but I am happy I had the surgery. I am also grateful for my community of support. I am ecstatic for the many firsts with my new beautiful breasts. What are some firsts?
- Buying cute bras in an array of colors that aren’t black or nude (Shout out to my line sisters for gifting me a bra shopping spree #15TF! Sisterhood at its finest)
- Wearing button-down shirts and having no gaps in the middle (This happened already, and I cried!)
- No longer wearing a bra if I chose
- Cute bathing suit tops
- Exceptional posture
- RADICALLY LOVING MY BODY
If my post resonates, I encourage you to love your breasts and your body in its totality. I feel lighter, beautiful, and free. Sonya Renee Taylor, author of This Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, offers an exceptional summation: “Concepts like self-acceptance and body neutrality are not without value. When you have spent your entire life at war with your body, these models offer a truce. But you can have more than a cease-fire. You can have radical self-love because you are already radical self-love.” We are so much more than our bodies, never allow anyone to make you apologize for your body. My body is not an apology, your body isn’t an apology. A black womxn body is not an apology!
Nikita Haynie is an Assistant Editor for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Nikita is a writer, author, and educator. She is a creative that writes content intersecting faith, black womanhood, and culture. Proud optimist. Follow her on Instagram: @thenikitahaynie. Check her out at NikitaHaynie.com