In the last few months I’ve been topless or have bared my naked chest more times than ever before. And to add, more comfortably and confidently so. Why? I am on a journey to befriend my breasts - ergo my body - and develop an unconditionally loving relationship with every part of myself.
I’ve been going deep (deeeeeeeep) with a lot of inner work and self-discovery; digging, unearthing, & healing wounds, fears, traumas, conditioning, shame that have been shovelled onto us womxn as a collective. So much shame. Some of the shame is mine, for sure; some I’m not quite sure whose it is exactly...
My quest to love my breasts in particular I suppose started when I attended my first Breast Massage workshop at a festival – quite honestly for a lack of other things to do at that time. While initially hesitant, with thoughts like, what the hell will this entail, crossing my mind, I’m so (so) glad I went. Perhaps my reluctance to step into that workshop was a deep unconscious shame and fear that I wasn’t ready to deal with, or wasn’t aware of at all so it was safer not to know.
I stepped into the Red Tent at that festival not really knowing what to expect other than assuming naked boobs would be on show. Including mine.
For a bit of context, the relationship I had with my breasts was lacking as a teenager. I always used to joke (but in seriousness) that I wanted a boob job for my 18th birthday. My mum would joke back that she’d get one with me.
I’d always pined for bigger boobs, feeling very hard done by in the breast & cleavage department. Of course, as a self-conscious teen I chose the padded bras to make myself feel better and at least pretend I was fuller formed; every little helped as far as I was concerned.
I also shamefully broke up with one of my early ‘boyfriends’ when I was about 11 after I found out he wanted to cop a feel. I was so scared of what he’d think of my little pre-formed nubbins (in my mind, I wasn't up to the "standard") that I ended it at the cinema when we were watching Lord of the Rings, whispering the message to my friend to pass along to him who was sat the other side of her. Brutal, I know. But that’s what fear and shame will do to you! If only I could tell the little 11-year old me, it doesn’t matter! And also - maybe wait a few years to let someone do that! Really, 11?
I was consumed thinking that “real women” had breasts and that was what made them “sexy”.
Breasts were a thing of awe, to me. But also of shame and fear, deeply felt but not understood why.
I was aware that they were an object. That they were judged - by both men and women. That they were overtly sexualised. That they were leered over.
But where did this shame and fear come from? It was in me since I can remember.
From wanting more of my own, I projected my lack onto other women & thinking them slutty for having their boobs out in a low cut top, or accentuating their impressive cleavage for attention. Really, I was jealous. They had cracking breasts, in all fairness.
Over time, my relationship with breasts - my own and those of other women - has changed, as I have. Thankfully. Now, my little nubbins are my allies; I love my small boobies. I even ditched wearing a bra all together about a year and a half ago to let them loose - something my larger breasted friends wish they could do (oh how the tables turn). But the shame, that's there lingering still... will it ever go?
While I was/am working on this loving relationship, there was/is still an initial resistance or a hesitation to strip off in front of friends or sunbathe topless – other than on a nudie beach in Greece where everyone does! There’s still a way to go, but stepping into that Red Tent earlier this year was a milestone for me and my breasts and a huge stake in the ground in terms of reclaiming my own body.
Back in the Red Tent, myself and about ten other women learnt how to give ourselves a breast massage with delicious sensual oil blends. Which meant we all had to take our tops off and expose our bare breasts. Ooof. That was a first. But being in a group of strangers actually made it more liberating and I wondered why I felt such a shyness around exposing them before. How silly.
With this workshop came a deep appreciation of our boobs (I speak for many womxn in the group who agreed) – along with a deep sadness & a releasing - or a recognising - of so much shame & blame. How many times had I only negative things to say and think about my boobs - and how wanting was I for a positive conversation with them. How many times did I feel I had to cover "them" up, thinking it was inappropriate, or not allowed, or shameful to have "them" out on show. Where did this shame come from? Sadly I know the answer: patriarchy, religion (ahem, the sins of Eve), media, cultural oppression... The list goes on.
Learning to unconditionally love my boobs has taken a while & now I am dedicated to fostering this relationship day by day. Stepping into that Red Tent I learnt about the importance of worshipping and taking the time on these mamas, learning not only that our nipples are arc points in Tantra philosophy – points where we store karmic imprints from past lovers (which doesn’t bare thinking about) – but also how beneficial breast massaging is for release & repair, working out tension and trauma, stimulating our lymphs, and how healing the act of massaging is for your self-love and self-care practice.
In Tantra, too, womxn's breasts are our positive pole, they are where we give love. They are an extension, physically, of our heart.
So no wonder, if we have lost the connection to our breasts and lost the ability to touch ourselves with love and care, that we have some real and raw issues and traumas around our heart and breasts. Is it any wonder that our heart might feel closed off to loving our bodies if we aren't even opening the portal of our hearts through our breasts with loving touch? Is it any wonder heart disease and breast cancer is on the rise? Something to ponder.
Fast forward to March, a mere month later, when I’m embodying the divine feminine through worship and ritual at my Wise Womban Way Transformational Facilitator Training. The goddess Miranda is working her magic with the camera. We each had a lunch break for her to capture us in our essence. In our glory. In our power. Naked. Like the wild womxn we are, reborn, amid the trees in the dense jungle. I play, I dance, I flow – and she is there capturing my essence. Completely without clothes.
This is the first time I have been full-on naked in front of anyone that isn’t my partner – or as a small child – ever. So this was a big deal, but equally not. Thanks to the Red Tent and the work towards loving my breasts more, I could viscerally feel a more positive body-image alive in me which meant this experience was even more empowering.
I felt so confident, so seen, and so supported. It actually barely crossed my mind that I was so exposed. It’s one thing getting your boobs out in a festival, another to be completely au naturel. But it was so perfect and such a stepping stone on this journey towards self-love and acceptance.
After our shoot, I felt called to share one of Miranda’s beautiful photos on Instagram – which is really the drive behind writing this post. I shared, shamelessly, my wild womxn - the photo above. I wanted to share my moment of rawness, of beauty, of unrestrained energy, of pure emotion, and body confidence, to inspire others.
It was taken down.
I got a warning from Instagram for inappropriate content. You could see the tiniest part of my nipple – from the side on. So not even the whole nipple.
Even when I posted it, my boyfriend joked that I was violating Instagram’s rules and regulations. I laughed as I thought who would be ridiculous enough to look through everyone’s photos just to look for nipples. Apparently there is that person.
It was taken down within the day. I was outraged.
I reposted the photo the next day with a star over the “offending” body part. How ridiculous. I was infuriated. It was art – it was not porn, or full-frontal. It was a tiny black and white side boob. Thoughts and accusations of ‘Why are men allowed to be bare chested with their nipples out and womxn are banned and barred? Scorned for breast feeding in public? For not wearing a bra? No wonder we have so much shame & trauma!! raced through my mind, as I'm sure they have done yours.
Why was it "ok" for us to be leered at and over-sexualised, but to put an arty photo up on Instagram “may cause offense”. This is why we have this collective shame! It’s effing ridiculous.
Literally, a few weeks later, I then went to a Women’s Tantra Retreat - I told you I was going in! And because the Universe always guides us, and in perfect alignment, there I was offered more opportunities to explore my Self further, to devote to my journey & inner work; dive deeper still into uncovering and releasing the shame around my breasts (and body) – and those of the female collective. In this sacred sexuality retreat there was nothing we didn’t do or see or experience.
We explored the nuances of our divine feminine bodies, we worshipped our breasts through more self-massage which was a beautiful segway from my Red Tent introduction; we danced naked for ourselves and for the other womxn there; we practiced with yoni eggs and became more intimate with our sacred Source… The Retreat was so freeing and tore down so many tall and strong walls that were keeping me from true connection to my body.
My love for my body – breasts and all – grew exponentially to how much I “risked” by allowing myself to fully be in and inhabit my body and thrill in being naked.
If you would have told me I would have felt so free last year, or that I would have been so free and naked, the thought of it would have made me very nervous, to say the least.
So a huge part of my journey and work, from February, has been working hard to embody intimate self-love, to remember that we all – not just me – are beautiful beings, from the inside out. That our female form is divine in all its shapes and sizes. That we are powerful goddesses with limitless gifts in the form of our body.
That we are not our breasts or our shame. This shame and fear has been laden upon us. And it's not fair. Some might be ours, yes, but also a lot of it isn’t. I urge you, womxn, to begin this journey. To ask yourself the question, lovingly, how is my relationship to my breasts? I urge you to give yourself a good look in the mirror - holding yourself - and say I am beautiful. To begin the journey to worship your breasts (which will only inspire you to love your body more). To work through any shame or fear around exposing these life-giving glands and love-giving pole. To reclaim your sensuality from sexuality.
One of the practices I was taught to foster this relationship is to give yourself a breast massage, daily, in front of the mirror with organic coconut oil and look yourself in the eye as you do. Believe me, it's powerful. And think of all the undoing of shame and reclaiming of body you are doing by loving yourself!
If any of you are breast feeding, perhaps consider what it might be to liberally pop your boob out next time. If any of you are at a public changing room, instead of clutching the towel to you, consider what it might feel like to let it fall. If you are spending time with a friend, perhaps even use this opportunity as a bonding experience to talk about your breasts and to even show yourselves to one another.
If you have a young daughter, mothers, let them see your body - which will be their body in the future.
Let's work together to liberate our breasts from the collective shame & develop a deep nourishing bond with them & loving self-acceptance for this sacred body and those of all womxn.
PS: If you want to develop a breast massage practice, my self-guided course Pathway to Pleasure is there to support you expand into more body sensitivity, body awareness, sensual liberation, & pleasure potential. Learn more, here.