October is breast cancer awareness month, and this year I honored the month by attending the Y-Me Annual Gala. Like most people, I have been to enough of these soirees to find them vaguely fun and often inspiring, but never surprising. But this event was different, not because anything unexpected occurred, but because I was different. For the first time in my adult life, I wore a revealing neckline. Call it ironic or fitting, I’ll let you decide.
Do Breasts Make the Woman? My Big Reveal
When it comes to fashion, I’ve always erred on the side of caution. I prefer tailored suits and cozy sweaters to the big reveal. But the drapery has for years hidden one of my best assets. I come from a long line of Irish women with shapely gams and architecturally sound declotte. My mother has a photo of herself walking arm-in-arm with her sisters back in the 1940’s and heaven help us, bombshells all of them. But not a hint of cleavage in sight.
It was by default that I overcame the notion that disgression is the better part of vavoom. Opting not to buy a new dress in these times, I resurrected an evening gown from the far reaches of my closet that I hadn’t worn in ten years. Let me tell you, I felt immense relief when the zipper complied. It still fit me, albeit snugly. But I couldn’t find the little jacket that goes with it–the one that sheaths the girls! I went three rounds with my closet until finally, collapsing in a heap of frustration and mussed hair, I caved. I would have to put them out there.
Well, it felt great. It was empowering, to be honest. So much so that I posted a photo of me in the dress on Facebook. But it also gave me pause. They’ve always been there–a very private, very hidden part of me. I’ve never exploited them to advantage, nor offered them up as a part of some package marked: “sexy female”. They didn’t help me achieve anything in life beyond being a good mother. But I like to think they contribute to the well-rounded woman I am.
So, as Breast Cancer Awareness month concludes, I now understand why my girlfriend, having lost her sister to breast cancer found a lump in her own and resolutely directed her doctor to, “Take them both off.” When I tried to suggest something less extreme, she told me what I now accept as truth: “I want to be healthy. I don’t want to be afraid of my own breasts. They don’t make me and they won’t break me.”