People will treat you differently just because of your boobs. I discovered this after hating and hiding mine throughout junior high. My breasts made their debut the final day of eighth grade. A school bus dropped off my class for rec day at the beach. I walked out of the changing room in my emerald-green one-piece with black piping into a parallel universe. The boys who previously ignored or were cruel to me (not teasing because they liked me, they wanted to crush my scholarship ass under their Topsiders) suddenly wanted to buy me a Creamsicle. In a flash, I understood. Boobs! Mine were eye level with most of these boys, which made our conversation straightforward. (I did not accept the ice cream. I hold grudges.) Ever since that day, I have used my breasts for power and magic.

Sponsored
Outdoor Performing Arts Festival featuring over 100 artists, food trucks, a beer garden and more!
Celebrate the return of the live arts in a safe, outdoor setting. Capitol Hill, Sep. 18-19.

For those of you who hope to interact with someone else's breasts, your comments are not needed. Women were all children once, so they know what it is like to move through the world without swells of flesh on their chests, and then what it is like to walk around wearing breasts. Some people know what it is like to have no breasts, get breasts, and then have their breasts removed. When my breasts came in, one at a time, at age 10, they infuriated and shamed me. They announced "woman" when I just wanted to be a kid. Suddenly I had to deal with these orbs that rendered every outfit "slutty." I tried to wear clothes that looked "modest yet feminine," which meant that at age 12, I dressed like a 1980s real-estate agent.

Shower your breasts with affection. Even if you think you don't like your boobs—too small, too big, too droopy, too hairy, too nippley, too uneven—they're YOURS and they are PERFECT. Take a picture of them, for yourself, as a documentarian. Breasts change throughout a person's life—due to menstrual cycles, forms of birth control, weight gain and loss, cancer, pregnancy and lactation (surprise! males can lactate), all manner of hormone fluctuation—and your 18-year-old breasts are as precious and sweet as your first-day-of-kindergarten picture. This is not to say that your tits won't be beautiful when you are the unthinkable age of 34, or 43, but they will never again look like they do right now.

Invest in a professionally fitted bra, or don't wear one at all. Yes, that means going to Nordstrom and asking them to fit you for a bra. You can do this. Throughout my illustrious career carting around a pair of triple-Ds, I have learned that an ill-fitting bra chafes and causes neck and back pain, and it does not lead to loving and accepting one's boobs. Everything else you need in life can be procured from a dumpster or Goodwill, including food and lovers, but do not skimp on your foundation. Like I said, the best fitting I've found in Seattle is at Nordstrom. Despite how much you might sweat nervously while a stranger measures your rib cage and nonchalantly shakes your girls down into the cups, this angel will show you how to put on your new, expensive bra without stretching it out. That way it will last longer. (They also tell you to hand-wash that thing, but if you're like me you just won't, so throw it in the machine with the eye hooks clasped, or wash it inside a pillowcase, and line dry it). Buy yourself a new bra once a year. If you want a second bra, after getting fitted at fancy Nordstrom, head over to Nordstrom Rack and hunt for a discounted bra in your correct size. If you have small breasts and/or you just hate bras, great! Don't wear one! Use all the money you'll save over the years to go on a fabulous vacation!

If you are well-endowed (in breasts), invest in a solid sports bra. Maybe you are not sporty AT ALL. Doesn't matter. I used to think that I hated dancing and running. It turns out that what I hated was the pain of my boobs jostling and bottoming out like a car's worn-out shocks. Once I got into Moving Comfort's serious bounce-free bra for cup sizes that are closer to the middle of the alphabet, I felt as free as a 10-year-old again. Your neighborhood running store, like Fleet Feet Sports on Capitol Hill, will carry many sizes and strengths of functional, powerful bras.

Your nipples are not weird. ALL nipples are weird. Nipples come in a mind-shattering assortment of colors, shapes, and diameters. When bra shopping, stop worrying about trying to find padding that will obscure your nipples. Everyone has nipples, and nipples stick out when they are cold or excited. Yes, my headlights are ON.

Symmetry is overrated. Everyone's boobs are different sizes, point in different directions, have different personalities. Name them. (Milo & Otis, Batman & Robin, Bert & Ernie, Tweedledee & Tweedledum, Mary Kate & Ashley, R2-D2 & C-3PO, Tango & Cash, Prince & the Revolution, Thunder & Lightning, Laverne & Shirley, Hall & Oates, Poncho & Lefty, Toots & the Maytals, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Mac & Cheese, George & Martha, Itchy & Scratchy, Lewis & Clark, Simon & Garfunkel, Thelma & Louise, Cagney & Lacey, Hootie & the Blowfish, etc.)

Everyone has hair around their nipples. Don't freak out. We have hair all over our bodies. Some hairs are dark and wiry! Pluck it with clean tweezers if you want, or leave it to flourish. DO NOT wax or shave or use depilatory cream on it, honey. Please.

Stretch marks are normal. The best lover I've ever had ran a light hand over my striated breasts and said, "You're so beautiful—your skin looks like marble." That's right. Still knocking the boots with that one.

Breasts did not evolve according to porn. They evolved so Homo sapiens could exist. While most of us enjoy looking at breasts, and, yes, they are super-sexualized in our culture, it is important to remember that these sweet titties are, again, attached to human beings. Humans are the only primate with permanently swollen mammary glands, and everyone's got an opinion about how and why breasts evolved the way they did. One man told me, "It's an ass on the front," poetically summarizing the theory that as we stood up on our hind legs and started having front-facing sex, cavemen selected the most buxom to mate with, hence bigger-boobed traits are passed along. That is one theory among many. "Sure, breasts attract males, but that's different from saying their primary function is to attract mates," anthropologist Dan Sellen tells Florence Williams in her book Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. "It seems really odd that of all the mammals who have mammary glands, we'd be the only one where the appendage is sexually selected. That would be adding a new function to the breast that's absent from every other mammal." Elaine Morgan, Frances Mascia-Lees, Gillian Bentley, and other evolutionary anthropologists propose that Homo sapiens' feeding needs brought about boobs, as opposed to the tits-as-peacock-tail theory.

Choose your words wisely. Again, the breasts of a woman you see walking past you are not objects for your amusement. They are part of a person. People are sensitive. Keep it to yourself. To quote Bridget Everett: tube sock, beaver tail, meatball, tater tot, ding-dong titties—it takes all kinds. Praise be. (If you don't know who Bridget Everett is, watch her "Titties" music video RIGHT NOW.) Speaking of words, did you know breasts may have helped make language possible for us? Florence Williams observes a unique feature of human anatomy: Our longer, wobbly newborn necks must be supported while breast-feeding. These delicate necks allowed humans to develop a lower larynx and an additional enlarged pharyngeal cavity, "a key anatomical adaptation for language," write Asif Ghazanfar and Drew Rendall in the article "Evolution of Human Vocal Production." Maneuverable nipples may have evolved to make this extended neck possible. "Thanks to pendulous breasts, we can speak," concludes Williams.

Don't sleep in your bra. Who does this? Marilyn Monroe, apparently, in the hopes that hers would remain perky. Wearing a bra to bed won't prevent sagging. Certified Rolfer Kate Bradfield tells me that it is important for your rib cage and diaphragm to be free sometimes. Even if it doesn't give you breast cancer, wearing a tight bra at night might be why you feel so crabby. Just saying. Maybe your tits are sore, or exploding with breast milk, and it just feels more comfortable to wear a bra at night. If you must, wear a lightweight camisole-type top without an underwire.

Tell your intimate partner if and how you like your nipples stimulated. Take off your bra, already. Nipples are sensitive because they evolved to respond to their environment, specifically a suckling baby. Since a toothed creature gnawing at a teat sounds terrifying, the body outwits the fear of something biting off your nipple and releases all kinds of fantastic drugs that render this activity quite pleasant, if not ecstatic, for some.

Do not "honk" another person's boobs. It doesn't matter if you think this is funny or sexy, I assure you it is neither. Nipples are crazy-sensitive (some people can orgasm from nipple stimulation alone!), but a word to the wise: What worked last night, or two minutes ago, is not guaranteed to feel fantastic now. Keep moving—use different textures, frequencies, and intensities of touch. Just like the clitoris, breasts are not a fun-button to push repeatedly in order to get the desired result. The woman you are having sexy fun with is not a slot machine.

Support The Stranger

Wear what you want. Dressing like a 1980s real-estate agent, it turns out, will not neutralize other people's opinions. Breasts are two graceful, roundish screens upon which people project their fantasies, values, mother issues, and beliefs. Fuck 'em. Or squirt breast milk in their eye.

Swim topless at Denny Blaine or Hidden Beach. Because. recommended

Sponsored