Last week, Tracee Ellis Ross, known to most of us as Joan Clayton from Girlfriends, launched a website dedicated to uplifting and educating other women. Like most fashionistas that admire Tracee’s eclectic panache, I was excited about TraceeEllisRoss.com. Since the unveiling, I have not been disappointed. The fashion icon is tackling a host of topics, from natural hair products to voting with the natural elegance and quirkiness that attracted us to her in the beginning.
One of the most poignant aspects of her site is the reflective blog posts that grant us access to some of her deepest thoughts about life, culture and even Marina Abramović. Tracee flaunted her word skills in a piece that analyzed how the acceptance of fake knockers has completely warped societal perception of breasts. In “A Culture Confused by Fake Boobs,” the spawn of Diana perused the taboo topic of boob acceptance in the age of photoshopped perfection.
Tracee writes that:
“Bras and our ever evolving breasts are a topic I often hear discussed by women. Just the other day at the gym, a woman asked me if she should get a lift because –as she put it –she was pushing 40 and after two kids, she just wanted to feel sexy again. Though her husband was against it, she was still clearly struggling with the decision (after all, she was asking the opinion of a complete stranger). I think that the new norm of fake boobs has confused us all. We have forgotten what real boobs look like.”
Ross then proceeds to recount personal experiences where her breasts were used to determine her worth as an actress and woman.
“I have, on numerous occasions, been confronted by other people’s discomfort with my breasts (and not just online). I had a horrid audition experience where the casting director actually made someone in her office take off their own push-up bra for me to wear because she did not like where my breasts were sitting. Apparently, the whereabouts of my breasts were key to my acting skills!
I’ve had long conversations with my manager about my breasts or, as she calls them, “the girls.” I’ve had to defend their placement, as she suggested I should wear a “better bra,” alluding to the fact that others have made comments about my breasts to her. These experiences gave me pause: I felt hurt, reduced to an object, a pair of tits — tits that were, apparently, un-cast-able.”
Despite her discomfort, Ross has refused to visit the plastic surgeon and continues to pose braless in Instagram photos. It appears that she has shielded herself from the pressures of Tinseltown and is encouraging other women to celebrate their imperfect knockers.
It’s about damn time.
I was eight-years-old when I skipped the training bras phase in favor of a B cup bra with underwire. I was on the C cup radar by 11 before settling into a double D at 16. Asthmatic steroids robbed me of the chance to desire breasts because I can never remember a time when I didn’t have them. Since I was bustier than other kids, growing up was a pain – literally and figuratively.
I was an outlier in a neighborhood of prepubescent teens. The taunting was relentless. Immature boys thought that boobies on a thin nine-year-old frame was cause for harassment. I had few girlfriends. Because their crushes chased after me all recess – hoping for an inappropriate grope – I was the enemy. There was even a song that followed me from the blacktop to the classroom. “Here comes Evette with the big C-cups.” I was humiliated. I cried. Nobody understood how difficult it was to be nine-years-old with breasts and a menstrual cycle. I was alone.
To combat this isolation, I developed a plan. I knew that when I was older and living off of more than a $5 allowance, I would head to the nearest plastic surgeon for a breast reduction. Yep, that was the plan. My resentment for my breasts deepened as I watched women traipsing through the mall braless while I was confined to a medieval torture contraption with double straps that left welts on my shoulder.
Embracing my bust was a slow process. I can’t even recall the exact moment when I decided that my breasts were meant to be loved and cherished instead of despised. It might have been one of the hundreds of times that I stood naked in the front of the mirror, critiquing flaws … or maybe not. All I know is that there was no Mo’Nique Phat Girlz moment when I karate-chopped mannequins and cussed at weight-loss infomercials. It was a rather peaceful transition from total disregard and disgust to unconditional admiration.
Now, like Tracee, I encourage other women to love themselves from root to the toot. We don’t have to spend countless dollars on push-up bras or pressure ourselves to achieve the Pamela Anderson ideal. Our knockers are special and deserve to be treasured. Tracee sums it best:
“I believe our bodies are sacred and wise and beautiful. I’m drawn to anything “natural,” and so, I love boobs of all shapes and sizes: big, small, sloppy, raisins, tits, milk-duds, fake, real, flat, bra or no bra. I call my breasts “boobs,” but if I was looking at my breasts from the outside I would probably refer to them as tits. I think my tits are quite pretty and I like where God placed them.”
So do I.