body creative non-fiction

TITS | Donna Tracy adapts to a changing body.

Creative non-fiction

by Donna Tracy

You remember when they first came along, don’t you? When your flat-as-a-board boy chest suddenly sprouted those two little lumps that pressed against your drawn up knees in PE, like a secret only you knew. Except that your mum spotted them too, didn’t she?

 ‘There’s something in the front room for you,’ she called after school one day. ‘On the baby box.’

You ran through, excited, breathless, the new Madonna album? A book you’d pointed out to her the week before? Maybe a Mars Bar – you’d been good that week after all. But no.

‘A trainer bra!’ Wendy Hurrell had shouted, pointing at you in the changing room next day. Two small white cotton triangles with a pink bow in the middle. Two straps that twisted and itched and aggravated until you wanted to tear the bloody thing off and jump up and down on it. And you did, that night, in the privacy of your room, vowing never to wear the stupid thing again.

But your mum saw, didn’t she? Mums always do.

‘Where’s your bra?’ she asked you.

‘It’s too itchy,’ you whined.

‘Go and put it on,’ she said, and she meant it. ‘If you don’t start wearing a bra you’ll get saggy boobs, and then you’ll be sorry.’

“You liked to clothe your boobs in different bras, to dress them up; new dollies to replace the ones you’d grown too old for.”

By fourteen, your boobs had caught up with Wendy Hurrell’s; they were rounded and perky, each a good handful. Your nipples jabbed through your T-shirt when it was cold; the same shape as those jelly tot sweets you used to like. You liked to clothe your boobs in different bras, to dress them up; new dollies to replace the ones you’d grown too old for. You had so many bras now that your mum had begun to regret her early intervention. You liked silky ones best, but you tolerated the way the red lace one scraped your nipples whenever you moved, because it looked so damn sexy. Wendy had led the way in the wearing of cami tops for a time, and so you had one of those too, in peach satinette. You wore it proudly over your matching bra for a time. One day, you determined, you would save up for the matching knickers, but you never did. Cami tops went out soon after, and it had gone greyish in the wash anyway.  

By sixteen, your boobs had morphed, apparently, into tits, norks, frops, or funbags, according to the whim of your boyfriend, Jason. He liked to touch them – a lot – and he would squeeze them unexpectedly when you were out shopping, or at a friend’s house for lunch. The squeezing, and that bright collar of love bites he put around your neck, were to let other men know that you were his. You wished he wouldn’t but…you loved him, and you didn’t want him to feel, well, you know, rejected? So…

Eventually, you took your too-touched tits off to university. Where you met David. Remember him? He loved Keats, didn’t he? I mean, he loved Keats. He thought you were his Fanny Brawne, oh, so sweet! That first night, in the back bar, when you got drunk together on absinthe (of course) and he told you he wanted to hold your hand and walk with you around lakes. And then later, in his room, when you lay together on his bed, (fortuitously, you were wearing your corset-style undergarment) and how, before he cupped his palms so tenderly around your milky orbs, he asked, ‘May I?’ And then, the words he breathed in your ear as he entered you: ‘You are beauty personified!’  

In your twenties, long after David, long before James, you learned to use your tits to your advantage. They were proper tits now, really proper. You really worked those puppies (what Kieran called them); milked them for all they were worth. In the evenings, you and your girlfriends pushed your tits up with clever padding and underwiring, and hawked them about nightclubs for free drinks and slow dances. In the daytime you used them to get things done. Delegation was, you found, so much easier for men to take if you distracted them with tits. Here boy! Watch the tits, boy, watch the tits aaaaand… fetch! But it only worked for so long, because there were always newer, younger, firmer tits coming up behind you, pressing in your back. Eventually, it got too crowded, and you couldn’t be bothered anymore. Wonderbras and balcony bras and plunge bras! Aaagh!! It all got too much. You began to crave a nice comfortable T-shirt bra. Preferably in beige; comfy, soft, and with wide straps.

And that’s when you met James. And after the first flush of passion, where you worked those leftover lacy bras and camisoles (they were in again) up into their final, frenzied climax of passion…ohhhh! Your tits became boobs again. Weekend city break boobs, DIY boobs, garden centre Sunday boobs, quiz nights at the pub boobs.

‘I love your boobs,’ James said. And you thought they would always be boobs now, because you’d found your happy place.

But then… the sucking, the cracked nipples, the way they felt like lumpy melons if the baby missed a feed, oh God! They were breasts, mammary glands, each cupped in the hammock of the nursing bra (with a specially designed flap feature for discreet feeding). They were scientific marvels of biological engineering! They were magical, mystical manufacturers of the elixir of human life! Wondrous breasts! But they weren’t funbags anymore. No, they were to be revered and worshipped and thanked, but they were not to be touched by anyone over nine months of age. Poor James. He was very patient, but he did miss his boobs – sorry, breasts.

They took a while to recover; maybe six months. They lay on your ribs like deflating balloons for a time after the baby took to solids. But they did make a comeback eventually. Now James has his boobs back, and you are wearing T-shirts bras again, but this time, with a lacy trim; a little concession to femininity. They are soft play boobs, baby bounce and rhyme time boobs, bucket and spade and chips and ice cream boobs. But they are boobs nonetheless, and that’s good enough.

‘I love your boobs,’ James says.

‘So do I,’ you reply, and you do.


Donna Tracy | @SlaveOfSolitude

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