True-confession time: My girls and I haven’t been getting along lately. In the 30 years we’ve been together, they’ve graduated from fairly budding B cups to delightful Ds to a recently voluminous ... I’m not even saying the letter. Let’s just say my days of laughingly referring to them as “Dionne and Diana” (because double Ds) are just plain laughable now.
Of course, since I recently turned 43, some of this is age-related and hormonal, and some is just good ol’ weight gain—and the most important thing is that, at last check, they’re healthy. But obviously, with all of that volume comes less buoyancy, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t let out a heavy sigh (or a hundred) over the heaviness currently hoisted upon my chest (it takes a village, y’all). I know they were never destined to stay that way, but the girls just aren’t what they used to be (101st heavy sigh).
So when I caught wind of award-winning blogger and speaker Chidera Eggerue’s (aka “the Slumflower”) personal campaign to make #SaggyBoobsMatter, I was both amused and intrigued. At only 23, what could she possibly know about the saggy-boob struggle?
Turns out, Eggerue knows a lot, as evidenced by her recent appearance on the talk show This Morning With Eamonn & Ruth in her native England. She recalls beginning to struggle with body image—and specifically boob image—in her teen years, when she noticed that even when she was being fitted for bras, her breasts didn’t look like the breasts on the packaging. As she told her hosts:
I thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on here? I feel strange; what’s wrong with me?” ... It was way too early in my life for me to start disliking myself.
An online poll during her appearance revealed that 66 percent of the female viewers of her segment had considered breast augmentation, which Eggerue admitted she had once considered, too. When did the shift occur?
“That shift occurred when I realized that I don’t want to look back on my teenage years and my early 20s wishing I’d loved myself a lot more. I want to be very present in this moment,” she said.
During her television appearance, Eggerue wore low-cut clothing (and regularly does so on social media) as a means of “reclaiming ownership of every single negative connotation associated with having ‘saggy boobs.’” She points to a common bias that suggests women aren’t allowed to age positively. Even the changes that come with pregnancy and breastfeeding are processes we’re not generally encouraged to enjoy and participate in without shame.
In a blog entry, she elaborates:
First of all, women do not exist for the consumption of men. Biologically, our bodies are built for babies. Babies don’t care about how perky your boobs are; they just wanna be fed. Men aren’t and will never be in a position to tell women ‘how to be a woman’. Impressing men isn’t even a goal worth making. As long as you have a female reproductive organ, men (cis-het) will naturally be drawn to you anyway. Nature doesn’t recognise beauty standards. There is literally no wrong way to be a woman. There is literally no wrong way to have a body as long as your body is functioning well enough to keep you alive.
When I’m wearing an outfit without a bra, I often get stares from people so trapped in their own insecurities that the sight of someone else taking charge of their body intimidates them. Majority of the time, people’s problems with you are an extension of their problems with themselves. It’s hard enough, trying to silence the voice in your head telling you that you will never be good enough so why make room for an external voice that will only amplify that self-hating voice?
But while Eggerue sincerely hopes that all women can find self-esteem as is, she’s adamant that her movement is truly about the freedom to determine what beauty means to you, as she told her hosts:
There isn’t one type of confidence at all, and every woman deserves to have autonomy over her body. So this movement isn’t at all intended to shame women who choose to get augmentations; it’s to encourage women to just be comfortable with whatever decision they make.