Living with the boobs…Part Two

Accepting that my breasts were going to really be a part of who I was as a person was pretty confusing at first. I never thought of myself as particularly attractive when I was young, and certainly not sexy by any means. This was one of the reasons why so much of my focus was always on myself as an intellectual, as a very smart, academically gifted person. I felt this was the area in which I would thrive to the exclusion of everything else. I never felt I could compete (so to speak) with women in the department of looks, or sexiness, or attracting the attention of men in general, so I made a conscious decision to play to what I identified as my strengths – my smarts. So when my breasts took center stage in many of my social interactions, I wasn’t sure what to do with that initially. But fortunately I’ve always been a realist, so I quickly figured out that I had to accept that I had them, that the world in general and men in particular were going to react a certain way to them, and I was going to find a peaceful way for us to coexist. As I moved through my twenties, I came to enjoy my breasts and the attention that they got, usually. I tried to be gentle and appropriate when I used the power they held. I was never one to just go out being scantily clad all the time, but I certainly had no qualms about displaying my cleavage at certain times. I began to incorporate into my view of myself “the girl with the big tits” as well as all of the other things I felt I was. But in spite of the fact that I tried to be moderate in my enjoyment of the power of my breasts, I will admit that I did go overboard at one time in my life.

Right up until my gynecologist found a lump in my left breast.

anatomy of the breast

I remember clearly the day she found it. I was lying on the exam table as she was doing my breast exam and talking to me about self examination. I was telling her I honestly wasn’t doing the self-exams regularly because I never really felt like I knew what I was feeling for and she was saying she would demonstrate for me again what I should do and how, but then she paused mid sentence while examining my breasts. She asked me to raise my arm high over my head, and she continued to examine my breast as I did. She had me adjust my body a couple of times and she continued to examine. She then moved on to completing the exam, but we did not continue the conversation we had been having. As soon as we were done she said to me, “Petula, I found something.”

She went back to my left breast and began manipulating a spot almost underneath my armpit, at the meatiest part of the breast. She had me touch the spot as well, and much to my horror I felt the mass underneath my fingertips. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and I had to fight to hear her talk. She said something about the fact that I’ve always had cystic breasts but this was something new and different, which was why she was concerned. She also said something about my breast mass, and about my family history, and how based on those things she wanted me to have a mammogram and ultrasound immediately. That did eventually lead to me having two biopies done on the mass she found.

breast_lump

During the 6 weeks I went through this ordeal I told no one, not even my parents about my ordeal. I didn’t tell the man I was dating either. I went to my appointments alone, and worried quietly and in solitude. I thought about the worst case scenarios of course – what would I do if I lost a breast? How would I feel? How would it affect my image of myself, which I had shifted so much to accommodate my breasts and their impact on others? Perhaps I shouldn’t have done that. I spent a lot of time seriously thinking about my breasts, about my low cut dresses, my blouses, my body image, and all those things. I thought about how much I had come to depend on my breasts and what they added to my attractiveness and sensuality as a woman. I pondered how I would find my sensuality, my sexuality minus such a huge part of it.

Fortunately for me the lump was harmless. I was okay. But the gynecologist did recommend that I have mammograms annually based on my medical history, though most women don’t start having mammograms until they are 40. She also insisted that I become diligent with my self-exams, and gave me a detailed step-by-step explanation of what to do, what not to do, and what I should be checking for based on my breast size and tendency to be cystic.

My relationship with my breasts changed after that. I didn’t start hating them or anything like that, but I found I couldn’t take them or their impact on the world seriously anymore. When men would gaze at my cleavage in awe, I found now that I would laugh, thinking of how little they really mattered in the grand scheme of things.

Since those years, I’ve learned to be very comfortable with myself, cleavage included. While I get that there are men who find big breasts attractive, there are lots of other things they find attractive too, and every woman has something, or a couple of somethings that men like. I am glad that I never felt compelled to lean on having big breasts for power, acceptance, love, or whatever. I always knew I had other weapons in my arsenal, though certainly my boobs are in the arsenal. I am glad that I have combined my brains, my body and my boobs into a “braindyoob” that can pretty much handle anything life throws at it. And every woman has to find her combination of weapons to conquer life, love, and whatever else she wants to do. Men do too I guess, though I’m hoping boobs won’t be in their arsenal.

Until next time…

–Tula

 

TULA CHINA DRESS

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Me and my boobs — how we all learned to live with each other

So yeah, I have boobs.

The reason my boobs are on my mind right now is because I just had my very FIRST custom-made corset ordered for my performance at The Great Burlesque Expo in Massachusetts at the end of this month (click here for details if you’re in the Boston area the last weekend of this month). I’m looking forward to getting it and trying it on, and of course that really means making sure my boobs look good in the corset.

Like all women, my relationship with my breasts is a bit complicated, though I think I’ve come to terms with my boobs more than many women. I mean, let’s be honest – at this point my boobs are part of my show. They are a highly identifiable part of me as my “real world” self, and me as my “onstage self”. I guess one of the reasons it doesn’t bother me that they are such a highly identifiable part of me is that I know I am much MUCH more than a pair of cute tits. Now of course people who don’t know me don’t know that, but I’m not prepared to take a whole lot of responsibility for what those people know or don’t know, so I don’t stress that. I’m also not particularly worried about being objectified because again, I have absolutely no control over someone who chooses to objectify me. Anyone with half a brain in their head who pays any attention to my work for even a minute or two beyond the visuals quickly realizes I’m much more than boobs, and for those who don’t take that time or don’t have the mental capacity to grasp that…oh well, not my problem. Having such a high level of comfort with my boobs was a hard-won battle, and a battle many women don’t conquer at any time in their lives. As comfortable as I may be today with my girls, trust me it wasn’t always that way.

TULA2 2013 cropped

As a pre-teen and a young teenage girl I was a tomboy. I had been a total daddy’s girl growing up, watching boxing matches and football games and “Wide World of Sports” on Saturday afternoons and listening to Yankees’ games on the radio as we’d sit on our porch in New Jersey on hot summer nights. I was comfortable with my dad, and loved the time we spent together enjoying sports. When we moved to Baltimore, I found myself naturally drawn to boys – not in the “I want a boyfriend” or a sexual way at all, but in a very organic, “they like the same things I like” kind of way. I had a comfort with them. These boys knew plenty of other girls that they thought of in a more sexualized kind of way, but I was just “Petula”…not a boy exactly, but not quite a girl either. I liked sports and would run up and down the streets and alleys as fast as I could, playing endless games of tag and kick the can. We even played football on an empty lot up the street from my house. I truly enjoyed my male friends, right up until the day I woke up with breasts.

I’m telling you, that’s exactly how it happened. I woke up one summer day and found I was a 36C cup. When I had gone to bed the night before there were no breasts – well, little buds sure but nothing to get worked up about (I actually used to stuff my training bras from time to time back in those days because I had a crush on a boy who LOVED the early developing girls in our 7th grade class). Suddenly I was a rather full, endowed young girl with a fairly respectable rack precariously topping my broad-shouldered frame

anatomy of the breastFor some reason I wasn’t expecting the breasts to impact my relationships with my male friends. They were all quite taken aback at my “growth spurt”, staring rather pointedly at my new cleavage, looking shocked and amused. But none of them said anything to me about it at first – I honestly think they were shocked to be faced with the female-ness of someone they really hadn’t viewed that way. Our more athletic activities became confusing as sexual overtones and hormones began kicking in. I slowly became dimly aware of the changing dynamic between me and my male friends, but for the most part I maintained a pretty high level of obliviousness. I was especially oblivious to the fact that my training bras simply were not appropriate anymore. I needed a real bra. But I didn’t realize how pressing the need was until one day my sister came to visit us (she lived in New Jersey), and when she saw me and my titties bobbling about basically unrestricted as I ran up and down the street with the boys she yelled at me, “Tula, get in here.  What’s wrong with you?” She really seemed to think I was trying to be “sexy” for the boys, but I honestly wasn’t. I really didn’t understand why anything had to change just because I had breasts. She discussed the situation with my mom (who had noticed, but I think she simply wanted to ignore the situation), and she took me to Hecht’s, had me measured (it was official – I was a 36C cup), and brought me several bras. Both she and my mom fussed at me for running around with those “fast-ass” boys with my breasts hanging out and insisted that I wear the new bras all the time. The funny thing is that while I’d always wanted bigger breasts back in the days when I stuffed my little bras, now that I had them I really wasn’t enjoying them. I didn’t like all the negative attention I was getting. I didn’t like the way my mom and sister had automatically assumed I was doing something wrong or being bad because I hadn’t been wearing a bra around the boys. They automatically thought I was being “fast” and acting “slutty”. Neither of them seemed to consider that I really didn’t understand what had happened to me.

The new bras seemed to draw more attention from my male friends than my new breasts did. They saw the straps peeking out from the tops of my tee shirts and tank tops, and that’s when the teasing really began. The presence of the bras along with the breasts was when the teasing really started. I definitely noticed them staring at my breasts which caused me to notice the shift in how they treated me – I suddenly became more like a girl than I had previously, and I noticed something akin to condescension in how they acted towards me at times. Suddenly their interest in playing our games and talking about sports and such with me waned a bit. They acted as if all of the things they had enjoyed doing with me previously had to disappear, and now they had to spend time pursuing me sexually or reminding me that because I had breasts and needed a real bra they had an obligation to try to cop a feel. They never did strangely enough, but they joked about it constantly. Unfortunately, the older men in my neighborhood were another matter. While my male friends seemed to try to maintain some level of respectability in dealing with my breasts even amidst their teasing, the older men who had literally seen me grow up from a little girl began openly leering at me, staring at me as I walked by, speaking to me and offering me rides to school and such. A couple would stop me in the middle of the sidewalk to engage me in asinine conversation, staring at my chest and drooling. It was awful and frightening, and those experiences quickly taught me I needed to hide my breasts. But my breasts weren’t having it.

My breasts continued to grow, and by the time I entered high school I was a 38C cup, making my way towards a D cup at breakneck speed. I did everything I could to dress in a way that minimized my breast size. Fortunately I was a total nerd, from my slightly awkward and unstylish way of dressing to my super-thick framed glasses, so the boys didn’t pay much attention to me. By the time I graduated I finally resigned myself to my big boobs.worlds largest breasts

These are the world’s largest natural breasts according to the Guiness Book of World Records.  They belong to Annie Hawkins-Turner (aka Norma Stitz, her softcore porn name) has an under breast measurement of 109.22 cm (43 in) and an around chest-over-nipple measurement of 177.8 cm (70 in). Her bra size is 102ZZZ, and her breasts weigh about 85 pounds. She started wearing a bra in the third grade.

But as a young adult woman I discovered my boobs had powers. They could get me out of speeding tickets, get me free admission to fancy parties and exclusive clubs, get me free drinks at bars for not just me, but for all of my girlfriends. I found my boobs could get me extra time to complete papers in college and more time to complete projects at work. The crazy thing was that I didn’t actually have to do anything in particular. I wasn’t a girl who went around wearing low cut clothing specifically to easily access my weaponry. Their presence alone, without any accentuating was sufficient. While I had always known women with big breasts could often parlay them into all kinds of preferential treatment, I never thought I would be one of those women. And I never thought that something so blatantly sexual would become one of the most highly identifiable parts of me. I was raised to be an intellectual, to be thoughtful, rational, reasonable and logical at all times. I was raised to write, to read, to think, to examine, to analyze. I always thought I’d be described as Petula the smart girl, the bright girl, the girl who can accomplish so much when she puts her mind to it. I never thought I’d be Petula, the girl with the big titties. Reconciling my view of myself from the inside with what I looked like on the outside was challenging, but I knew it had to be done.

cleavage pic

To be continued – How my breast cancer scare helped me make peace with my breasts.

SOME QUICK ANNOUNCEMENTS BEFORE I CONTINUE WITH MY RANDOM MUSINGS…

I have a show coming up this SUNDAY, March 17, 2012, and if you’re in the DC area, I’d LOVE to see you come out.

MODERN ELEGANCE BANNER

The event is called “MODERN ELEGANCE” — it’s an upscale burlesque/variety show that I’m very pleased and proud to be a part of. It’s being held at a very sexy venue called “Bossa”, which specializes in various types of Brazilian cuisine! Tickets are only $12 in advance and at the door, and you can get additional details at www.facebook.com/events/557809780904028/. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show starts @ 9 p.m.

THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!

Tilted Torch, DC’s premier variety show, returns to Bossa with a glamorous ensemble of performers to present an evening of refined entertainment featuring classic burlesque beauties, hypnotic belly dance, and vivacious variety.

Straight from New York City, AMBER RAY’s luscious burlesque will stir up trouble. KARATE KANDICE will tempt you with her alluring belly dance, while PETULA CAESAR’s erotic performance poetry will leave you hanging on every single word. MALIBU will get you all wound up with her electrifying poi spinning and MISS JOULE will entice you with her enchanting burlesque. Our femme-cee, the salacious SHORTSTAXX, will guide you on this vintage modern journey that is bound to leave you wanting more.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to sit by candlelight and enjoy an upscale burlesque and variety show with a fine cocktail in hand!

Doors at 8:00 pm, Show at 9:00 pm.

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/343970

 

ALSO….

RAW MARVEL BANNER

 

I will also be performing at Baltimore’s RAW Artists Showcase on Thursday, April 4th. The event is a variety show featuring some of the  city’s best, most eclectic talent ranging from visual artists to performing artists, musicians, singers, dancers and everything in between. 

Tickets are $10 in advance, and I need your support in purchasing tix from me. You can get more details about the event at www.facebook.com/events/427099127368911/ or at www.rawartists.org/petula.

 

 

 

Random musings on my ex, my boobs, my performing, and my mom, in four parts…

Random musings on my ex, my boobs, my performing, and my mom, in four parts…

PART I: Redefining relationships to others — (about my ex)

A couple of Monday nights ago I went out to see some of my favorite people perform. This probably would not be noteworthy except that my ex is among this group of people I went to see perform, though at this time he is not one of my most favorite people (obviously, or he wouldn’t be my ex.)  To add an additional wrinkle to this entire thing, I went to see this group of people with my current man, who is of course fully aware of my extensive history with my ex.

A couple of Monday nights ago was not the first time I’ve seen this group perform since my ex and I broke up, but it was the first time I’ve gone to see them since we broke up where I felt comfortable and at ease. I didn’t feel awkward or weird. It was kind of like visiting a cemetery, like looking at a tombstone of someone who has been dead for a long time. Seeing him didn’t make me sad or melancholy. I didn’t miss him, or our relationship. I didn’t even feel awkward not addressing him as I spoke to the other performers around him, which is something that always bothered me in the past.  I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that not acknowledging me is what he needs to do to deal with my existence. I have no right to feel any kind of way about his coping mechanisms. I have learned that my comfort with all of my emotionality, even when it isn’t logical or doesn’t make sense or is hypocritical is one of my greatest strengths as an artist and as a person. I have accepted me, not in a “oh I think I’m perfect and don’t need to work on anything” kind of way, but in a “I am clear on who I am, for the good and the bad” kind of way. The greatest harm I ever allowed him to do to me was to let him make me uncomfortable with my emotions just because he was uncomfortable with his. Watching him ineffectively deal with his feelings through ignoring me makes me understand how dangerous it was for me to mirror his emotional dysfunction. I also understand that we aren’t going to be cordial, ever. I don’t take it personally anymore. I will freely admit the way he would ignore me really used to hurt, because I felt like he was erasing me from his memory, from his heart, and that bothered me because I felt like it proved I never mattered to him, and that everything we shared meant nothing. At one time I really wanted us to be able to be polite to each other at one time and in the past even made it a point to speak to him when I saw him even when he was clearly avoiding me. But I’ve stopped doing that. Now I actually am kind of flattered at how he can’t even look me in the eye. In a twisted part of my brain it makes me feel like I am so incredibly bright and brilliant he can’t bear to look directly at me, because my brilliance would singe him and turn him into a pile of ashes. (I did say it was twisted.) I mean, I’ve never in my entire life seen someone ignore me so hard. He won’t even look my general direction – it has become almost funny the lengths he’ll go to when I’m around to act like I’m not there. What’s even more funny is that the pointed way in which he ignores me does exactly what he always feared most when we were together – it makes it extremely clear that something major must have gone on between us if he won’t even look at me now, considering how close we’d been in the past. It has definitely been a rough year for me in many respects – around this time in 2012 he and I were breaking up. While I would never want to go through that pain again (and it truly was awful and agonizing), I am so glad that I’ve come out of it in the place I am now, able to enjoy this amazingly talented group of musicians, lyricists and vocalists, many of whom I consider good acquaintances and friends, and even when he’s present among them, I still enjoy them.

ex boyfriemd shirt

PART II: Redefining relationships with myself…(about my boobs)

To be continued…