I was an early bloomer. When I was ten years old and already filling out a bra, my breasts felt like something that didn’t really belong to me. With boobs came a perceived maturity that I was forced to wear across my chest. I was still a child but the double F cup I wore when I was 15 meant that people saw me as a woman long before I was prepared to deal with what that might have meant.

Throughout my teens, I was certain that one day I would get a breast reduction. Surgery was the scariest thing I could imagine but I was already tired of experiencing the world tits first. There was nothing about them that I found redeeming. Even my bras have always been big boring and beige; the sort of matronly garment that makes you feel more like an upholstered sofa than a buxom young woman.

In my first relationships, I would talk about how I felt about my boobs but my partners’ reassurances that they liked them never made me feel any less estranged from the sacks of yellow fat that had taken residence on my ribcage.  I would sooner ignore my chest than make peace with it. My breasts always felt like an inconvenience and an eyesore, and even as I came to terms with the rest of my body, my bosom still felt like an unwanted gift with which I had the misfortune of being burdened.

“Since my boobs had never felt like they truly belonged to me, I needed to reclaim them.”

It was only the week of my twenty third birthday that I finally declared a truce in the long lasting battle with my tits. It was the birthday card from my Grandma, with the money tucked inside and a P.S. reading “don’t spend this on any more piercings” that pushed the germ of an idea to the forefront of my mind.

Since my boobs had never felt like they truly belonged to me, I needed to reclaim them. I needed to plant the theoretical flagpole and declare that this body was my home. So I went into town armed with my birthday money, strolled in to the tattoo parlour and asked if they could pierce my nipples.

The piercer made me feel immediately at ease. She made sure I knew what to expect and how to take care of my new piercing.  And, yes before you ask, it did hurt. Ff course it hurt. But for me more overwhelming than pain was the feeling of relief that I finally felt like there was something about my boobs that I had actively chosen. With the help of a needle and barbells I had finally taken possession of my own body.

“Before my nipple piercings, I felt like my boobs were something that happened to me.”

The process of tending to the new and healing piercings allowed me to spend more time considering and caring for my breasts than I ever had before. Now they weren’t just something I had spontaneously staked my claim on, I was having to actively look after them. I couldn’t continue to disregard and overlook my boobs and be invested in them healing well, so I had to heal my relationship with them too. Getting my nipples pierced made me feel like my tits were something that I could take possession of, but healing those piercings finally made them feel like a part of my body.

Now most of the time I forget about the jewellery underneath my shirt, but I can’t ignore the role that it has played in allowing my to fully inhabit my body. Before my nipple piercings I felt like my boobs were something that happened to me. Now I feel like that they are something that belongs to me.

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