Sista Speak On It!
Image retrieved from: portlandfamily.com
Columnist, Tammy Rhodes
I Made The Decision ( A Monologue Performance Piece)
Ever since I was five, I wanted to be a performer, like the old soul singers I would see on the music channels. I would sit in front of the TV and become completely enthralled in whatever song they were performing at the time. My favorite performer was Aretha Franklin. She was captivating. I mean after all, she was “The Queen of Soul” right? She wasn’t a tiny woman like the typical performers, but a plus size goddess.
Aretha was appealing to me because I was always just a little bit bigger than all the other girls in my class. Plus, I was a natural performer. Anytime I was given a chance, I would always sing my heart out. I was taller and bulkier than the other girls in my class, and I got a training bra before all my other friends. I got my first bra when I was five! But in my mind it was okay because I knew that not only did Aretha have a big voice, but she had BIG BOOBS too! I was going to have boobs like Aretha!
Aretha Franklin Image: Ryan Arrowsmith, Wikimedia Commons, www.flickr.com
So as no surprise, when I got my first bra, in kindergarten, I felt like I was a woman. I would walk around with my boobs in the air, shoulders back, just like Aretha would do it. I was exhilarated with this new-found freedom that my boobs gave me. They gave me a sort of sex appeal and strength. My boobs were me! They were every part of me.
Growing up, I constantly found ways to draw attention to my boobs. I wanted every man and woman to be envious of them. To desire them. You know, want my boobs so badly, that they wanted me too! In middle school, I always drew arrows on my t-shirts that made people naturally look to where the arrow was pointing. In high school, I became bolder because I would make my mom buy me t-shirts that were a little bit tighter than my normal size. In college, it was V-Necks everyday, even in the winter. And summer, was my favorite season! I would wear extra revealing tops so that you just “had” to see them.
Image by James Gayles
I would always find reasons to bend over so that guys would check out what was inside of my shirt! As if they couldn’t see them anyway! College also brought me a new kind of stage for my performance. In college I majored in performance arts, and soon after graduating, the guy I was dating at the time offered me a spot in his dad’s jazz club performing on the weekends. And I loved it!
I could do and say anything I wanted to. I would step on stage and be a big ass diva! I didn’t have a great voice, but what I lacked in voice, I made up in boobs. I would pick a different guy every night, and shake my boobs in his face. Every person in the city knew that if you were going downtown to hear “the big boobed Jezebel“, you better not bring your wife. I put most women to shame. I would often hear women call me tramp or whore because they were jealous of how I flaunted my boobs. It never bothered me, because let’s face it: ALL men, married or un-married, could not bypass the big girl with the boobs.
But no matter how much I flaunted my boobs, I knew that there were some secrets that I was carrying around with me. If my “fans” knew the truth, they would look at me differently. I would lose all my sex appeal and the façade would be broken. Truth is, my boobs hurt me. When I would get home from a long night of performing, I would have to face the mirror and see where my bra had cut into my shoulders. Under my breasts were bumps and I often fought yeast infections because my boobs didn’t air out properly with my bra. My back had huge stretch marks and often I would have to pop an ibuprofen to deal with the pain of carrying around all that extra weight in the front.
With all the joy my boobs had given me, they also gave me setbacks. I could never wear a strapless gown. I always had to wear the kind of bra with the big bulky straps. No man had ever seen me without my bra, because let’s face it, gravity was kicking my ass without it. But most of all, my health was a concern for me. I kept uncomfortable heartburn and indigestion. And after finally listening to one of my girlfriend’s advice, I went to see a doctor about it.
He measured my boobs. He weighed my boobs. He told me that each boob was adding 15 pounds to my frame. That was 30 pounds to be exact. 30 pounds! I was a big girl, but 30 pounds from my boobs?! It all made sense to me then. He told me that all my problems I was enduring were mainly because my boobs were way too big for my stature. I needed a breast reduction!
After leaving his office, you would have thought I was dying. Honey, I went into a depression and cried for days. I cried for my boobs, Ike and Tina. (That was their name!) I cried for all the money I had put into getting specialty made bras. And I cried because I knew that cutting off my boobs meant that I would, quite honestly, be cutting off a piece of me.
Image retrieved from: wikimedia common, http://www.flickr.com/photos/audreyjm529/5058273837/
I had a spiritual connection to them. I prayed with them. We found God together! (or at least a minister on the street laid hands on them). No one could understand why I was so upset. No one could understand why my boobs meant so much to me. The death of my boobs, to some extent, meant the death of a part of me; that was until I did a benefit concert for a friend of mine who had breast cancer.
After hearing her story of the doctors not finding her lump, because of the mass fat in her boobs, I knew then that getting a reduction meant that I would be investing in my life. And that meant something greater than admiration from anyone.
After pondering this decision for 3 months, yesterday, I called and made an appointment to get my breasts reduced. My friends are proud of me. My “fans” have decided that we will have an “Ike and Tina” memorial the weekend before the surgery, and the proceeds will go towards my friend’s memorial fund. (My friend with the fatty mass lost her battle with cancer two weeks ago.)
I feel no pressure about getting my breasts reduced. I know that this is my decision. I have always equated my boobs with me. Big boobs meant me being more and more like Aretha. But Aretha would say, “you better think”….And that’s exactly what I did. I thought about how happy my body will be with smaller breasts. I thought about all the sexy and lacy bras I can now invest in. And Honey, let’s just face it, when you’re a diva like me, big boobs, small boobs, nothing, except me, can stop me.
-Tammy D. Rhodes