When I was 10, my mom made me wear a bra and it felt like a punishment for being different.
When I was 10, I took the bra off when changing for gymnastics and accidentally dropped it in the school hallway. A teacher picked it up and said, “Oh, this must belong to you” and handed it back to me in front of everyone. I quit gymnastics.
When I was 11, I thought maybe the boobs would be okay so long as they didn’t get any bigger than would fit in my hand, so I kept measuring it, but they did.
When I was 12, I started wearing two or three sports bras to smush them down, until one day a classmate said, “Are you wearing two bras?!” while laughing.
When I was 13, a boy told me he wanted to squeeze my boobs “until they popped.”
When I was 14, I got cast in a play as an older character and a classmate told me I got the role because I had boobs.
When I was 17, my mom told me to return a swimsuit because it would be too distracting for my boyfriend’s father.
When I was 21, I got properly fitted for a bra and everyone felt the need to tell me how much better my boobs looked.
When I was 26, I got pregnant and my immediate fear was that my boobs would get bigger.
When I was 28, I got shamed for trying to feed my screaming baby in public without a cover.
When I was 28, people asked me “why are you bothering to use a breastfeeding cover?”
When I was 30, people gave me weird looks that I wasn’t yelling at my kid for putting their hand on my boob.
When I was 31, I avoided going to the beach or pool because I didn’t want to have to deal with boobs in a swimsuit.
When I was 32, I got asked, again, “why don’t you get a breast reduction?”
When I was 33, I watched a 5yo girl get shamed for running around in sweltering heat without a shirt on and had to reprimand a bunch of tween boys who thought it was okay to shame her for doing something they do all the time.
When I was 34, my kid kept patting my breast and saying “Mommy’s squishy breast!!” They will never see me express any shame about tits, because I want them to have a different mindset than I had. Yes, boobs are nice! They’re squishy! They’re fun! That’s the end of that.
I’m 35 and no longer give a fuck. I don’t care anymore. As a teenager my tits were covered in stretch marks. They’ve been engorged with milk. My nipple changed shape with pregnancy. Give it another couple decades and my breasts will probably be all wrinkly. It’s sexual when I’m using it sexually. I don’t fucking care, and I won’t be ashamed anymore.
Every time a policy or cultural hangup treats people with breasts differently, it fucks us over.
Tumblr’s new policy makes an active choice to participate in this culture of shame. By classifying “female-presenting nipples” as explicit material, Tumblr has taken a stance that any chest or breast that differs from a male default is worthy of shame and unavoidably sexual. The idea that breasts are shameful and unavoidably sexual is exactly what fucked me up for so much of my life.
Stop shaming people for having bodies.