Big Boobs Aren't All They're Cracked Up to Be

Big Boobs. Men want to stare at them (amongst other things), and women want to have them. Restaurant chains have been built because of them. But as someone who has had them most of her adult life, I’m here to tell you that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Yes, that’s right, there are actually disadvantages to having big breasts, both physical and emotional. So, this is the story of my very large breasts and my decision to have breast reduction surgery.

Macromastia: It’s an Actual Medical Problem

The medical diagnosis is macromastia: It simply means oversized breasts. At a 36DDD, my breasts were oversized for my 5’4” frame, and it had been that way for most of my adult life. For most of my twenties, I told myself I was (and stuffed myself into) a 36C, not wanting to admit that I was most likely much larger than that. By the time I hit my thirties, there was simply no way to deny that I had hit DDD territory, and not because I had gained weight. My breasts have always had a life of their own when it comes to weight: They do not respond to any weight loss I might experience. However, as I’ve gotten older, they have responded to gravity, and that has only made the physical effects of big breasts that much worse.

The Physical Disadvantages of Large Breasts

So what, exactly, are the physical disadvantages, you might wonder. Let me spell them out for you. It starts with the constant neck and shoulder strain: My neck and shoulders were constantly tight, and that tightness affected the rest of my back, causing giant knots in my lower back. My surgeon took out almost 2.5 pounds of excessive breast tissue, so consider tying something around your neck that weighs 2.5 pounds or more and carrying it around all day, every day, without ever being able to take it off.

I have deep, visible grooves in my shoulders from bra straps that have spent a lifetime struggling to hold up my very large breasts. And no, it wasn’t from wearing the wrong size. At a certain size, it simply doesn’t matter. A bra can only do so much.

Then there’s the bad posture. My shoulders curve inward and always have, because the weight of my breasts was pulling them forward. I tried to stand up straight, but my shoulders could not stay straight under the strain, and when you already have large, protruding breasts, pulling your shoulders back makes them protrude even more. Which brings me to the psychological effects of breasts that are too darn big.

The Emotional Disadvantages of Big Breasts

I don’t really remember when they came in, but it was during junior high school, so probably around twelve, which is a fairly normal age. I’ve always been introverted, and certainly at the very tender age of twelve, I was quite shy. So imagine my shame when some of the boys in my class started reaching out and grabbing my breasts in the hallways. I was twelve and embarrassed and didn’t tell a soul, but someone else did, because later those boys accused me of telling on them. At the time, I was mortified – I would never. But now, with the distance of age, I’d like to thank that person. He or she did the right thing. What made twelve year old boys think it was their right to start grabbing? Maybe we should ask the current president (I had to say it).

Then there are the stares: Some men attempt to be subtle about it, and others simply don’t give a shit. They didn’t talk to me, they talked to the boobs. It’s not flattering, and it doesn’t make a woman feel good about herself, especially one who has never been particularly happy to have them anyway. But what was I supposed to do? Cover them up? For me, anything other than a turtleneck revealed my cleavage (don’t even get me started on button down shirts, that’s a whole other issue). I used to worry that cleavage was inappropriate, especially in a workplace setting, but then I finally decided, why should I feel shame for something that is entirely natural (yes, mine were the real thing). Unfortunately, that didn't necessarily make life any easier.

Believe it or not, bra shopping for us large chested ladies is difficult and depressing. It really wasn’t until the last fifteen or so years that stores like Victoria’s Secret even carried bras above a D cup (which is part of the reason I was stuffing myself in C cups for a while). In larger department stores, you can find larger sizes, but they're usually the ones I like to call Mom Bras: they might be the right size and they're certainly functional, but there's nothing sexy about them. Thankfully, the Internet has changed that landscape, and it's finally possible to find a decent bra above a D.

But, oh, the joys of swimsuit shopping when you have big breasts. Again, not so long ago, you could never buy the top bikini separately from the bottoms, and swimsuits were never sold in cup sizes. I remember so clearly the day (long ago) I went into a department store and could not find a single swimsuit that fit me because I needed a much larger top than a bottom. I separated them anyway and tried to buy it without the saleswoman noticing, but imagine my embarrassment when she loudly stated, ”You have two separate sizes here, you can’t do that!” I turned a deep shade of red and walked out of the store empty-handed.

I’m sure there are more stories and frustrations I could tell you, but you’re probably wondering what is the point of this big boob story, so let’s talk about the current political climate and why I think my breast reduction surgery story is important for people to hear.

Why Get Breast Reduction Surgery Now?

If it isn’t totally obvious by now, I was tired of the physical pain and the emotional strain. I’d been thinking about breast reduction surgery for a couple of years, but I’m not one that goes under the knife easily. And then the election happened and our right to healthcare, especially women’s healthcare, came under attack.

You see, my insurance is covering the majority of my surgery because oversized breasts are considered a medical diagnosis, because there are physical disadvantages to having them. But I also know that there’s a very real possibility that, if the Republicans' healthcare plan goes through, my boobs could soon become a pre-existing condition and, therefore, a surgery would not be covered by most insurance companies. Not only was the time right for me personally, but the time also became right politically. I wanted to get my surgery in before the axe fell.

It’s My Body, My Choice

A week after my surgery, I’m sore and I’m swollen and I’m tired, but I finally, finally feel like I have a body that has the right proportions. I lost 2.5 pounds of breast tissue, but I feel like I lost fifteen pounds because my boobs don’t take up my entire torso anymore. My shoulders are slowly settling into a straighter position, and I can finally stand upright without a strain on my neck. I feel like my center of gravity has changed because I’m not constantly being pulled forward. Like I said, I’m sore and I’m swollen and I’m tired, but I feel amazing.

So, why am I telling you this rather personal story? Because this surgery is a perfect example of My Body, My Choice. It’s not just about abortion, like so many want to make it out to be, it’s about a woman’s WHOLE body and about her WHOLE health. It’s about being able to take control of your own healthcare and improve your life. If the healthcare reform passes, other women won’t be able to make the choice I did to improve their health, not just in terms of breast health, but in so many different ways. And that’s simply not right.

My story may not be one of life and death, but it is still about my health as a woman and how one surgery, thankfully covered by insurance, can greatly improve a woman's life.

And I think everyone should have a right to a similar story. 

When the Journey Stalls: Writer's Doubt

I have to admit it, I feel like the Reviving Jillian journey has stalled a bit. If you read about why I’m not writing everyday, then you know that I recently started a new job and adjusting to my new schedule has thrown me off a bit. But with Reviving Jillian, I think it may be more than just a new schedule: I think writer’s doubt is starting to creep in.

I’ve gotten good feedback on my script, but I’m not conquering any screenwriting competitions with it. I’m in that place where I re-read it and I wonder: Is this script really worth it? The hours it’s going to take to prepare, shoot and edit this thing. The belief it’s going to take to market it in order to get financing, get into film festivals, and eventually get distribution. Is all of the hard work worth it? I have a fear, a very big fear, that I will make something bad. Something that won’t be worth my time, or my sweat, or my tears. Something that people will watch and cringe, laugh at, or, worst of all, simply be bored with. I have doubts, many, many doubts, and they are causing me to stall.

The creative process, no matter what it is, often comes with doubt. Writers are insecure folks. Many successful writers will tell you they suffer from impostor syndrome – even with success, they doubt the quality of their own work. As far as I can tell, there’s really only one way to get through writer’s doubt. I have to keep moving forward. Even if it’s re-reading the script yet again to look for a scene that can be edited or dialogue that can be tightened up. Or maybe it means pulling out my book on producing an indie film and reading the chapter on budgets. Or maybe it’s just thinking about the actress I want to play Jillian. All of these things can keep me on track. But today, I’m going to accept the doubt. I’m going to let it hang around. Because I believe it’s part of the process, and it will freak me out less if I accept doubts as a part of the process. And then I’m going to move forward, one step at a time, until I have a completed, edited film to show the world.

Do you suffer from writer's doubt?

Music Inspiration: The Core of Emotion

As filmmakers we’re constantly inspired by what we see, so much so that we dedicated an entire page of this website to the visual inspiration we experience every day. As writers, we obviously are also inspired by words, but there’s one form of inspiration we haven’t talked about yet, and that’s music inspiration. I’m not the kind of writer who needs to write in a room of complete silence. In fact, I need ambient sound to focus. Even as a kid, I did my homework in front of the TV: I wasn’t watching it but I needed that extra noise. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised my rather strict parents let me do that! The point being, to this day, I write while listening to music, and there’s actually a process to each script and the songs that I listen to while writing.

When I first start writing, I usually don’t have any specific type of music in mind, but as I develop characters and a plot, I find myself drawn to certain songs. When I was writing a script about an 80s high school reunion, I listened to a whole bunch of 80s power ballads: Air Supply’s “All Out of Love,” Journey’s “Open Arms,” Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do” (I didn’t say it was cool music). When I wrote an original TV pilot about undead teenage girls (yes, I wrote one of those), I listened to dance music. As you see, there’s usually a theme that develops, but with Reviving Jillian the musical inspiration has been all over the place. It started with Madonna, then some 80s punk, and then the soundtrack to Grease. All of these play a part in the movie, so they make a lot of sense. Then I found out about Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album, Emotion. Though it’s brand new, it has echoes of 80s pop and Madonna, so it’s not that far off from what I was already listening to. But a few weeks ago, I became obsessed with Radiohead’s The Bends; not the song but the whole album. I listen to it in the car on the way to work, I listen to it when I’m doing chores, and I listen to it when I’m writing. Yes, I know, I’m 20 years late on this one, but hey, it’s a great album.

So, what’s going on here? As I’m sure it does for everybody, music taps into certain emotions. It’s appropriate that a script about trying to win the heart of your lost high school love at your 20th high school reunion might evoke the emotions of an 80s power ballad. Teenagers like to dance, especially undead ones that don’t have to go to school the next morning. But Reviving Jillian is a much more personal script for me. It taps into the feelings of what it was like to be a teenager in the 80s, and it explores the world of a present-day grown woman who is trying to make sense of life, death, and who she really wants to be. If you mix together Madonna, Grease, some 80s punk, Emotion, and The Bends, you get nostalgia, rebellion, anger, sadness, fun, a little confusion, a little heartbreak, and the full experience of what it is to be human. I hope the screenplay manages to do the same thing.

Does music inspire the writer in you?

Festivals, Forums and the Introvert Conundrum

I am a textbook introvert. I refresh my energy by spending time alone and I like to do a lot of solitary things, like reading, running and, of course, writing. I’m better at communicating with people in one-on-one situations than I am in large groups. That’s not to say that I don’t like spending time with other people, but when I do spend a lot of time with other people, it does drain my energy and I need to refresh again. Not all screenwriters are introverts, but many of us are, probably because sitting in a room by oneself writing for hours on end would drive most extroverts crazy. The problem arises when the introvert is done writing her or his script and needs to get herself and his work out in the world.

In TV and film, the problem is intensified because no film is made by one person alone. You’ve seen the credits roll by on your favorite film: They tend to be so long that no one actually sits through them. So where and how do introverted writers meet these many people that will help bring our stories to life? Film festivals and forums are a great way to start. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Austin Film Festival’s screenwriting conference a couple of times, and I just signed up to attend the Film Independent Forum this October. But I will admit, it’s hard for me to build lasting relationships at a conference that lasts no more than three days. I get overwhelmed by attending panel after panel, and by the time the parties roll around, I’m exhausted and ready to collapse into bed. At the parties, I have a hard time mingling and introducing myself to a room full of people I don’t know. It’s a conundrum. An introvert conundrum. And unfortunately I don’t have a lot of answers. I just keep going, keep pushing myself to meet other people, keep hoping that somehow something will click.

I do think there is one trick that may work: being passionate about the screenwriting project that you’re working on, shopping around or hoping to make. I’m pretty passionate about Reviving Jillian. The Storymaker’s Journey wouldn’t exist without it, so I know I’m headed in the right direction with forcing the introvert in me to put my story ideas and screenplays out into the world. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a conundrum. Maybe the introvert can succeed. Maybe it just takes the right project. And when I’m done networking, mingling, hiring crew and cast members, and shooting Reviving Jillian, I can find another script idea to get passionate about, and the introvert can go back into her solitary office to write. 

Are you an introverted or extroverted writer?

Writer's Procrastination

Well, it’s time to find out, did I do anything productive this week or did I give in to procrastination? I did a lot this week! I was offered and started a new part-time job. I supervised my hard-working assistants, Hector and Cyrus, as they played and ate and slept. I went running a couple of times. I had to get my car fixed. I finally got the allergy shots I found out I’ll be needing for the next few years. And I even wrote a couple episodes of Not-So-Super…Powers. So, I did a lot this week. Except for anything having to do with Reviving Jillian.

Writers procrastinate. That’s what we do. We sit down at our computers and, instead of writing, we do a little online shopping. I really did need that antler necklace, I swear. We get up to do the laundry because, with all of those allergies, it’s important to wash towels and sheets and clothes often. We feed the assistants because, as hard working as they are, they’re pets and they can’t get food for themselves. And while we’re shopping and cleaning and feeding cute little animals, our brains keep processing. And if we’re lucky, great ideas pop into our head. As you know (because you read every one of our blog posts, I know you do), the idea for Reviving Jillian popped into my head during a run and started this whole storymaking process. So, while I may have suffered from writer’s procrastination when it came to Reviving Jillian, I got plenty of other things done that will hopefully contribute to my next great thought for the project. I also had a great idea for a pet-related jewelry store, but that’s a whole other blog that doesn’t exist yet.

Truth be told, I did set aside my procrastination for a few hours and did one productive thing for Reviving Jillian this week. I applied to Film Independent’s Directing Lab. While I’m very excited about the prospect of getting into a directing lab that would help me develop the film and my skills even more, I’m also a little apprehensive after my disappointment with The Writer’s Lab at NYWIFT. Instead, I have sent off the application and moved on to more important things, like making myself dinner at 5:30 PM because I’m hungry. Really, I am. I’m not procrastinating. I swear.

What do you do to procrastinate and does it help you in the end?

I Have a First Draft, Now What?

Because I’ve had the idea for Reviving Jillian for so long, writing the first draft didn’t take very long. I knew where I wanted it to start, where it should end, and how everything in the middle would play out. Usually that first draft is a brain dump: I’m not shooting for high quality; I just want to get the full idea out of my head and onto the page. Then, as many writers will tell you, the real writing happens in the rewrites.

But this script is different. The characters, the structure, the story was always already there. Yes, it’s been through three drafts so far that have made it a stronger script, but the core story is the same. So, what’s my next step? Well, first I have to create a logline so I can tell people in a concise and compelling way what the script is actually about. Usually, the logline goes through many, many more drafts than the actual script, and this one was no exception. I’m guessing by now you might like to hear what this script is about, so here it is.

The logline for Reviving Jillian:

When Jillian Tejeda, a middle-aged, lackluster lawyer, is forced to pack up her deceased parents’ home, she finds a long lost diary amongst her childhood things and is pulled into the story of two sisters struggling to make sense of their teenage years. She must decide whether to follow the diary down a self-destructive path or learn to make peace with the past, the teenager she once was, and the adult she has become.

So, now I have a completed script and a logline. Where do I go from here? I’ve entered it in a few competitions that I’m hoping to hear back from in the next couple of months. I plan on applying for some writing and directing labs that can hopefully give it a boost. But if I really want to make this movie, it’s time for this writer to stop writing and put on my producer hat. I’m not gonna lie, producing isn’t my favorite thing, so there may be some procrastination involved. You’ll just have to find out next week if I actually do something productive this week.

In the meantime, how many drafts do you usually write?