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I look for other flat chested women. A rant.



  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    Wow, AnneMarie. I am a textile artist and I just bought some cloth to design/print a scarves. You have me thinking. I like the idea of scarves as a bit of privacy. I just don't want to wear breast forms. My body is enough. Scarves have appeal on so many levels.

    I am married, so no help there. I often think about what it would be like to be single throughout all this, or because of it.

    What I want to know is, have any of you felt the need to say anything when people look at you? This is my struggle right now. I live in NYC, there are millions of people here. When I walk down the street people are constantly looking at me. Some rudley, some with simple curiosity. The problem for me is that there are so many of them. The cumulative effect for me is draining, frustrating, tiring.

    I keep thinking up t-shirt slogans. Sometimes I just want to yell, 'BREAST CANCER, ok? Stop looking at me!', but then I would really be a New York freak. 

    I keep telling myself that my filters will fortify.  

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    This is an hour long talk but, Do NOT Pass Go.

    Aimee Mullins talks with Harold Kodas about Art and beauty. She is the athlete who made cheetah legs so well known. 

  • Linda-n3
    Linda-n3 Member Posts: 1,713

    AnnMarie, thanks for sharing  your photos - you look marvelous!  (and NOT flat - what an amazing thing our brains are to fill in what "should" be there!)

    I have been wearing scarves since chemo - a friend serving in Iraq sent me 3 beautiful scarves, and they are longer than most made for the US and are just beautiful.  I was using them to keep warm as I chilled so easlily, but then had such severe hot flashes, so they were easy to drape on and off.  Then I had BMX and have added to my scarf wardrobe with some reall cool ones. 

    The week has been so hot here that I have been in bathing suit and poolside/in pool every day, and am becoming much more comfortable with my swimwear and how it feels and how I look.  Just gonna take a little time and a lot of acceptance, and I am getting there!  Hope everyone keeps cool!  Cool

  • BonoboGirrl
    BonoboGirrl Member Posts: 104

    "Sorry if you thought I was criticising wearing scarves; I was just thinking out aloud..... choosing flat confronts a whole binch of stereotypes/conventions.... how far do we go??  I for one could not go without a top in a public pool with a BMX.  To me that feels like I would be kind of saying I am no longer a woman - treat me like a little girl/boy/man who has no breasts. I dont have problem with topless bathing and it is certainly not about shame; it is just I want to be part of the femal world..."

    Sian, in reference to our question, I didn't read it as cirticism and I was happy you asked. I love thinking about the various feelings and motivations that inform/drive a behavior. It is good exercise to take inventory. I, too, sympathize with your desire to continue to participate in the female conventions that feel right and good to us; i.e., not swimming in a public pool topless. I wouldn't either. I fully support women who wish to, but it's not something I'd ever be comfortable with, and not out of shame, but rather out of my own personal feeling for conventions.

     MT1: I lived in NYC briefly. Just the everyday stress of riding the subway was enough to drain me. Maybe I just need to get you a t-shirt from Cupcake Royale in Seattle that says "How do you like them muffins" right across the chest. ;) I could have them add a little pink breast cancer ribbon to it. Gee, now that I think of it, that would be a good addition to that shirt.  

    [edited to remove 3rd party private information.]

  • BonoboGirrl
    BonoboGirrl Member Posts: 104

    Linda, so glad you understand about needing scarves for that bit of warmth. And same thing, when I was undergoing chemo I would go from being shivering cold to boiling hot! What a rollercoaster ride chemopause is. Your scarves sound so beautiful. How I would love to peek in on each member's collection--the one's made, given, worn most, etc. Thinking of all those swatches of colors I imagine a painting. :)

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    I was very self-conscious the first few months - since I had my surgery in April 2011 - but then after a while, I realized that most people didn't even notice.  But some do.  I generally just ignore them.  

    I know a lot about transgender women to men, by the way, a very close relative was considering doing it.  It's not just the breasts - they have  to take male hormones, and counseling to be sure that they really are trans.  The reason women to men don't have "bottom"surgery  is that the surgery is much less successful than the surgery for men to women.  I don't know what the legal requirements are for changing gender on a license = some states don't recognize it at all, but I don't think it reflects anything on us.

    I love scarves.  We should all bring our favorite scarves to Flat Fest and take pictures wearing them.  That is, if September is not broiling.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845

    Anne-Marie, you are very pretty (as is your daughter). It is not all of us who can look gorgeous ina chemo hat ;)

  • greenfrog
    greenfrog Member Posts: 73

    I wear waistcoats (vest in US?) and scarves most of the time - but then I always used to.  I feel the need to disguise my flatness because I really cannot be bothered to engage in any kind of discussion about it. Nor do I feel the need to raise awareness single handedly.

    I am very tall - nearly 6ft - I have spent a lifetime putting up with idiotic comments about my gender and being conspicuously breastless will only add salt to that wound and I really don't want to go there. I feel about going "obviously flat" the same way as I felt about wearing very revealing cleavage-popping tops when I had breasts. They are both a distraction. I just don't want anyone - friend or stranger - focusing on my chest whatever the reason!

    This, I hasten to add, is my personal take on this. I really do have great admiration for those who can go utterly flat in tight t-shirts and genuinely not give a damn. But I am too shy/vain/insecure and always will be I suspect. Plus I feel physically vulnerable now that my chest bone only has a tiny layer of skin between me and the world.

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    Do you all know how excited I am be talking to other flatties? I like being a flattie, it sounds so much like fatty, but not. It is turning a supposedly 'negative' word into positive usage.

    Because, really, I want to see you out there.

  • camillegal
    camillegal Member Posts: 15,711

    MT1 U'r so funny--When we are all toether as a family we always say everyone with no boobs ets the vote (all flat) my sister, cousin, niece and me) we all chose to skip the recon. so and my Mom was too. we just got used to it and doesn't bother anyone. we so often go without any type of bras and we are so comfortable why not. So there's alot of us out there that's for sure.

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    This feels sort of like being a teenager.  My hormones (or lack of) are raging and my physical appearance is changed, I am about 20 pounds lighter and I am playing around with exercise. I see abdominal muscles-which I have never seen on my body before, and I am getting used to it. The teenage anology helps me think it through. It does seem unsettling, curious.-formative anyway. 

    My therapist told me she has another client who got reconstruction and has this same sort of grievance, though they have it in private. Because they can 'pass' in the world, their concerns about reconstruction and feelings about it being 'fake' are kept to the private sphere. I, on the otherhand, am choosing to be flat (Maybe that is a good t-shirt, a play on the musical note B flat), and am now facing external reactions. Is it like this for any of you?  

    How come so many women choose not to reconstruct? And where are they? Society needs Flat Normalization Training.

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    I think we choose not to reconstruct for all sorts of reasons.  For me, it was a no-brainer.  I hate surgery, did not like the additional risks and pain that came along with surgery. Surprisingly, once it was done, I found I like it.  I like not wearing a bra.  I like being able to put on a tank and nothing else on top, especially now with 100 degrees outside.  And I like looking slimmer - just need to work on my stomach.

    (And anyway, I've always been a sort of go against the norm sort of person. Or, as my kids say, once a hippie always a hippie.)

    MT1 - i do agree that we flat and fab gals need to go much more public.  Our society is much too breast conscious.  

    Am I alone in hating the "Save the Ta-Tas" bumper stickers?  Forget the ta-tas - save the women! 

    (BTW - I also sometimes go barefoot - into Walmarts, Trader Joe's, although, since I'm an attorney, I do have to don shoes sometimes.  Judges are funny that way.  Still, I have foot problems and have found that barefooting is often the only comfortable way for me to get around. If you think going flat gets stares, try barefooting it.)

  • Tina337
    Tina337 Member Posts: 516

    No, you are not alone - I hate Save the Ta-Tas, too. I assume it's another way to say "find a cure", but I have always associated it with pro-reconstruction.

    Having had implants and "passed" as having breasts for two years, I can say that from a private standpoint they did not make me feel whole or feminine. I knew they were fake, and that didn't make me feel confident about my body when I presented my body to my husband or the world. Part of the reason for opting for implants was thinking it might help maintain my sexual relationship with husband, but because of my own feelings about them, it had the opposite effect. Big lesson there. However, the public is fairly neutral when it comes to thinking about the sexuality and attractiveness of a 50-something year old woman, so unless recon does it for you personally, there's really no point. I might as well have faced the loss of my breasts immediately, because while it indeed was a loss when my implants were removed (like a second mastectomy), I eventually felt much more comfortable in my own skin. This translates to a better relationship with my husband and how I interact with outside world. I felt "false" presenting myself to the world as a woman with breasts when I had implants. For me, it is easier to present myself as a woman who has no breasts and deal with whatever reactions come my way. I feel true to myself.

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    Add me to the list of people who hate "save the ta-tas."  I find it so offensive.  All at once, dismissing the enormity of the experience of breast cancer, reducing women to sexual objects and adding to crass commercial garbage.

    Tina, I loved your post.  Part of the reason for opting for implants was thinking it might help maintain my sexual relationship with husband, but because of my own feelings about them, it had the opposite effect. Big lesson there.  This so resonates with my own experience and reinforces for me that my experience was valid.  When faced with the mastectomy, I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror, naked.  Really looking at my body.  I plastered my left breast to the side and tried to imagine it gone.  This was the first time I'd ever spent really looking at myself.  I could not imagine putting plastic bags of salt water into my body, but I could not imagine how being flat would affect my sex life with my husband, or my self-image.  But something miraculous happened while standing there in front of that mirror.  I realized that I think I am beautiful.  And the beauty had nothing to do with my breasts.  It had to do with the lines of muscle in my abs that I'd worked so hard to develop (I had been 80 pounds heavier once, and I had worked very very very hard to become fit and healthy for the previous 5 years).  The prospect of losing my breast brought with it the realization that, for me, I was beautiful because I loved myself.  My body was one that was cared for, by me.  This was the first time in my life that I knew this.  I am grateful to know it.

    Now, 9 months after my umx, I am even more fit and feel empowered by my decision to be flat on one side.  There have been some annoyances (like having to wear a prosthetic to work-since I teach teenagers and do not feel that it is my place to force my students to address their own body issues or fears of disease), but I am very happy with my decision. 

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    I decided there weren't any photos of women with umx going flat, so I thought I would show off how a uniboober looks going flat in swimwear...  This is how I spent my time in Cape Cod...:)

  • badger
    badger Member Posts: 24,938

    hi ladies, I so want to join you for Flat Fest in NYC but my travel budget is gone for the year. 

    I have gone flat since BMX in Feb 2010.  My mom, a 30-year BC survivor, offered me her expensive silicone prosthetics (that she doesn't wear) but I declined.  I don't feel the need for them and love the freedom of no bra.  I was self-conscious at first but most people didn't even notice.  The ones who did were kind.  (Midwesterners are way more polite than New Yorkers).  Got a few speculative glances but once I went bald from chemo, no one looked at my chest.

    Mom was dx 30 years ago at age 50 with BC on L side and had a radical Halstead mx and a silicone implant (that later leaked..but they don't make that kind any more).  She swapped that out for saline and was living her life when she found a lump in the R breast and was dx with BC again 15 years ago.  Had a simple mx on the R and the saline implant removed from the L.  By then she was 65 and decided against recon.  She started going mostly flat, wearing prosthetics for weddings etc, as someone posted earlier.  Now she's 80 and the prosthetics stay in their box in a dresser drawer.  She's known many BC survivors and advised against recon, citing pain, inconvenience and mixed results.  I'm glad I took her advice.

    I'll be visiting her in FL later this year and having a week-long Flat Fest.  :-)

    p.s. I also hate the frivolous and dismissive term Ta-Ta's.

  • camillegal
    camillegal Member Posts: 15,711

    CLC Good for u and u look great too.

    Oh and TA-TA's to me is so crude and I'm no prude. LOL

  • alexandria58
    alexandria58 Member Posts: 202

    Hi everyone: since we're stillin Flat Fest planning stage - a uqestion.  Should this just be women who go flat or include all women who haven't had recon, even if they use forms?

    My thought is that women who use forms are still essentially flat, and I want to welcome  all women who are interested in Flat Fest.

  • Outfield
    Outfield Member Posts: 235

    I'm jealous of you all who can get to flat-fest, but either coast is just too far for me being out here in the middle of desert nowhere. We're just recovering financially from both of us going halftime to have our two kids, boom, boom, one then the other, then cancer right after that.

    Interesting experience yesterday.  Following on the heels of a discussion about PSA and prostate cancer screening, someone spoke to me at length about how many women have "unnecessary mastectomies."  It was so clear he did not have any idea I have no breasts. I was half annoyed (more because I didn't want to be talking about breast cancer with someone who didn't know I'd had it) and half amused.  This was after some comments at lunchtime from a woman I've worked with only for the past few months who was talking about her mom's death from breast cancer and clearly did not know I had recently been treated for it.  I think if she's noticed I have no chest, she would have made the connection, but what she noticed first about me was that I eat a lot of beets!

    Edited to add:  me too about the ta-ta's.  Before cancer, I thought it was clever and I thought only a prudish older person would be bugged by it.  But how trivializing, sexualizing, you name it.   

  • flatabbott1952
    flatabbott1952 Member Posts: 1

    I hope my presence doesn't offend anyone.  But I'm a flat-chested woman.  Mine tho isn't a result of cancer, mine just never grew.  I have allowed this "condition" cripple me. It shows in my personality, my fears, my insecurities.  I have had a history of cysts.  I've had 3 surgeries and 8 mammos already.  At the age of 42, I just would like to offer advice, just to be who you are, the people who love you, love you for who you are, not what you have or have not.  My best friend is undergoing reconstruction surgeries for her post mastectomy.  I would like to offer my support to you all.  God bless

  • greenfrog
    greenfrog Member Posts: 73

    Thank you Flatabbot - no offense taken here. Your post raises the key issue about how all women have varying relationships with their own bodies. If someone harbours negative feelings about aspects of their bod it is probable that losing a breast or two will compound that insecurity.

    Being breastless (for me) is about so much more than the aesthetic of being flat - and this is why reconstruction really wouldn't work for me.  I am living without a part of my body that played a major role in my life. They were not dormant bags of fat sewn onto my chest - for decades they grew in size and sensitivity during my menstrual cycle. Their tenderness was the first indication of pregnancy. They breastfed children. And then there is the whole sex thing. I am a menopausal mother with the body of a prepubescent girl. Or a young man. Only less so, as I have no nipples and I am scarred and burnt.

    Yesterday my son and I were messing about with temporary kids' tattoos - I stuck stupid dragons all along my 11" scar - I was surprised how much better I felt turning this oddity into a prettier oddity. This whole experience is such a work in progress.

  • 1boob
    1boob Member Posts: 11

    I can't go flat as I have one existing largish boob left. So I go single breasted a lot of the time. My mastectomy site hurts with any surface contact so all bras hurt, all prostheses hurt.  I only wear these for limited periods. Softies ride up in a soft bra. Silicone sags down in a soft bra. Crop tops are similar. A fierce bra which holds the silicone prosthesis up hurts under the armpit. I think prostheses are appallingly badly designed. Incidentally the Daily Mail published a whole of of mastectomy photos the other day.

    Can't have a reconstruction because my husband is too ill for me to leave him while I have elective surgery. Might reconsider if the other breast goes.

    Single breasted is cool, CLC..... well, I try to believe that!

  • mumito
    mumito Member Posts: 2,007

    Personally I too was a uniboob for almost a year but found it akward and I was unconfortable wearing afoob tolook balanced so my BS agreed to take the other one off as well.Now I am mammogram free.Not as worried.And no longer feel lopsided.But remember ladies that is just me and how I felt about myself.More surgery is not for everyone.My girlfiend has had a uniboob for over 8 years and has no problems with it.Not wearing a bra is wonderful.

    I went on a BC survivor cruise over a year ago and I swear I was the only one running around the ship without foobs.Kind of suprised me.I think I was looked at as the wierd lady from Canada who doesn't really give a ####. At dinner I was seated with two lovely ladies who worked for The Amoena Co.When they heard that I was planning a big wedding for my daughter they insisted on fitting me and a week after the cruise a pair of foobs arrived in the mail for me to wear to the wedding.But I only wear them when I get dressed up in evening wear.LaughingI will also add that my husband actually likes me to wear them so sometimes I do just for him.

  • BonoboGirrl
    BonoboGirrl Member Posts: 104

    CLC, Great photo!!! Love the swimsuit. You look fabulous in it and it looks fabulous on you. Not sure if I'm just accustomed to seeing flat chests and UMX chests, but it looks perfectly normal to me, not something I would think twice about if I saw you at the beach. Cape Cod this time of year sounds oh so perfect. It's a scorcher in the Ozarks right now, unusually hot (100s all week!), and not a drop of rain. I grew up in Michigan, where the lakes can appear like oceans, so I must have a little water to play in! And my gardens need some watering too. :)

  • BonoboGirrl
    BonoboGirrl Member Posts: 104

    Flatabbott, what a sweet, encouraging, thoughtful post. A very good reminder to everyone. 

    My journey to flatness occurred a little late in my mastectomy decision. I was initially diagnosed in August of 2009, but because it was DCIS with no lymph node involvement, I didn't have my BMX until that December, once school let out. Waiting was easiest on my pocketbook, worked with my parents' schedules (they could be with me at that time to help me with kids, etc.). Anyway, I had a lot of time to think about breasts. There were no surgeons in Arkansas who did autologous tissue reconstruction with just tissue, no muscle, and I did know right out the gate that I didn't want to contribute muscle to my reconstruction. I'm way too physical. I carry heavy computer bags (with two computers, books, and other sundry supplies) all over schools, up and down stairs, and, as a single mom, I'm very physically active with my kids, not to mention that I'm the one who has to keep up with all the physical chores in the yard and around the house, except maybe mowing the lawn, which my son will do. There's a certain feeling of litheness in my step when I walk which has always been my barometer of physical fitness. I wanted to maintain that, not compromise it, so, as noted, I knew I didn't want to donate muscle. 

    I never thought I'd be the type of woman to go for implants. Yet, sitting across from my surgeon the first time, discussing options, it was the only one I was left. A single, sexually active grown woman, I think in that moment I thought I would need them, want them even. So I met with the plastic surgeon, had them take all the measurements and went off on my way. A month later, though, when I had a moment to think, I realized it was not the right choice for me, for the same reasons donating muscle wasn't. I have an upper back injury that flares up from time to time, and when it does it pulls on all the intercostal muscles, those tiny little things, and makes it difficult to breathe. How much worse might that be with implants pushed up under my chest muscles? What if my expanders hurt? As a single mother and head of household, I could not afford the possibility of coming out of that BMX debilitated in any way. I have to work; I have no safety net. I felt physiologically, for my health, recon was the wrong choice. Then there was the issue, also very important to me, of authenticity. I fully support women in their choice to reconstruct. My issue with authenticity is not particular to "passing" in public. Rather, it was about me having an authentic experience of breast cancer, its impact, waking up after surgery and having the opportunity to confront and grieve that loss. What would it mean to me--this experience of breast cancer--if I don't first see how it has changed me? I wanted to see it, my flatness, to acknowledge my loss and honor the loss of those breasts! A whole life's history had lived through those breasts: puberty, first lovers, two husbands (one of them a late husband) and nursing babies! Just as I bore witness to all those changes--how puberty, pregnancy and nursing changed my breasts--I wanted to bear witness to the effects of breast cancer. And so, I opted not to reconstruct. 

    Fast forward. I am the only woman in my young survivors support group who has not had reconstruction. For the past two years I've listened to the other women complain of pain (debilitating for some, requiring a daily dose of heavy meds), their multiple revisions, absolute lack of feeling, how their husbands don't touch them, etc. A couple are happy with the aesthetic outcome, but several are not even happy with that. I listen and think: a) just on a practical financial level, i.e., costs, loss of work due to pain or surgery appts/recovery time, I made the right choice; b) I am blessed with full mobility and 90-something percent feeling; c) I'm pain free; and d) my lovers do touch my chest, and probably because comfortable, both emotionally and in terms of being pain-free, so I actually get to enjoy it. 

    Yes, my fellow survivors all looked at me like I was weird for not having reconstruction. Who would want to wake up and look down and endure the horror of not seeing breasts? Me. And it wasn't horrofic, just sad, just mournful, as any loss would be. And I was thankful that I gave myself the experience and time I needed to see it, acknowledge it, mourn it and process it. If I opt for reconstruction at some point, I will be ready in the deepest sense and at the core of my being. It will be a responsive rather than reactionary choice, which, for me, is what getting implants would have been had I gotten them at the start--a fearful reaction, fear of what it would mean to not have, to not see breasts upon awakening. 

    I am happy to date with my choice. I entertain the possibility of doing an SGAP someday, but that thought is barely audible. More than likely, I will remain flat for the rest of my life. Why mess with a good thing? 

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    Camillegal and AnneMarie...thanks...:) 

    1boob...I think it is cool...  I sometimes look at my new shape and think it is, well, interesting, like some type of modern art...maybe not beautiful in the traditional Michaelangelo sense, but interesting like a Picasso yet beautiful, like a Monet.  Anyway, it's me...;)

    AnneMarie...I lived outside of Fayetteville for a couple of years.  It is one of my favorite places.  I love the Ozarks.  They are quite beautiful.  My mother had property on the large lake outside of Eureka Springs...the name of the lake escapes me right now.  It was a damned up river.  Beautiful lake.  I hope you find your water!

    Hope you all are well!

  • CLC
    CLC Member Posts: 615

    AnneMarie...I like your choice of word..."authenticity"...  This experience has been nothing if not authentic. hmm.

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    What sort of magic needs to happen to upload a photo to this forum? I don't think I know the incantation.

    Flatabbott, Thank you.

    CLC, you look great. There is such strength and dignity in going flat, thanks for uploading photos of yourself. And I love your story of loosing weight, gaining your abs, and seeing your Self as pretty. Thank you for that.

    You know, if the first plastic surgeon I spoke to had any bedside manner at all, my choice may have been quite different. Probably not, but. I went to the appointment thinking I wanted to reconstruct, that I had always wanted to be smaller, and perhaps I could just go for it. My husband went to the appointment with me and when the doctor came in he pulled the curtain so that David was on the other side of it. I asked David if he wanted to come in and he said no, he would be present on the other side of the curtain. OK. The doctor had me stand in front of him and we talked about perhaps reconstruction and making the pair smaller. He grabbed my breast, pushed my nipple into the soft flesh of my breast and said, yeah, we can do that. He turned me around and said, you might consider taking fat from your bum, you don't have enough elsewhere... it went on like that. I felt like a piece of meat, he walked out to get a promotional booklet. I looked at my husband and said, 'I don't want any of this'. 

    I walked away from that appointment traumatized. Just seeing the way he touched my breasts disgusted me. 

    Ann Marie, the greatest joy post surgery was when I realized that my mind and my body were in harmony. I am not telling my body that it needs to be anything more, or less, than it is. I feel I have made life simpler, I don't seek to look as I once did. I want to be who I am now. And I have changed quite a bit from all of this. I feel different, I look different, I am different.

    Alexandria? I think we should be as inclusive as possible. 

  • BonoboGirrl
    BonoboGirrl Member Posts: 104


    From what I can tell, uploading a photo requires an image url; meaning it must be hosted on another site/server such as Flickr. If you have photos uploaded to a site like Picasa or Flickr, first make sure you have your privacy settings for those photos set to "public," grab the page urls for each one you'd like to share, then come on over to the board, place your cursor wherever you wish to insert a photo into your message, click on that little tree icon in the message toolbar menu up top, and a dialog box will open into which you can paste the url of the image you want to embed in the message. If it's a large photo, wider than 650 pixels, I recommend resizing if you can. I just reduce the ratios in the boxes manually, doing the mat (e.g., 650 x .85 = n  X 425 x .85 = n) in my head first, rather than resizing the photo itself. Hope that makes sense. If you need additional help, let me know. 

  • MT1
    MT1 Member Posts: 223

    Hm. Anne Marie. I need to figure out a private photo hosting option for myself. I teach online and use Flickr as a place to upload for the classes. I will check out Picassa.