For many women, having a positive body image can be a struggle. Everywhere, women are fed images of airbrushed models in ads who project flawless skin, perfect legs, and an hourglass figure.

For some, it is challenging to accept their bra size. Women are told that they are more beautiful for having a larger cup size. But for women like Sierra Horton, who are genetically predisposed to having a larger bust, the grass isn’t always greener.

In an essay for Bustle, Sierra Horton wrote about how her body rapidly developed to “peak physical maturity” — and what a struggle that was for her.

She wrote:

One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret … trying to summon up the courage to ask an employee for fitting help … to say that my breasts made me miserable growing up would be an enormous understatement.

In a certain sense, her newly matured figure caused Horton to grow up faster than most. She was sexually assaulted at the age of 13. Horton wrote that the defense attorney of the man who assaulted her blamed her for the incident — specifically because she “occasionally wore V-neck shirts and underwire bras.”

The attorney insinuated that Horton’s figure was the reason his client assaulted her, and she internalized the idea that she needed to feel ashamed of her body.

Horton wrote:

Unsurprisingly, my young mind processed that as one thing: Blame your boobs, and ultimately, yourself. “What if I didn’t have this body?” my mind used to obsessively wonder. “Would nothing have happened to me? Is this why he picked me?”

Around this time, others were telling Horton that she was lucky to have large breasts and that she would appreciate it once she got older. Horton wished that these individuals were right, as it gave her the hope that maybe her body wasn’t “bad.”

Horton wrote:

To be honest, the hope that one day I would appreciate them kept me going: I had to believe it to keep from being completely and utterly distraught. I struggled through this paradox for years, fighting as hard as I could for it to one day be true.

Horton said that in her twenties, this issue continued to haunt her:

I wanted so much to like my boobs in spite of what happened to me, in spite of all of my struggles as a teenager — simply as a “f*ck you” to everything that I went through.

Horton’s two paradoxical beliefs about her body “exhausted” her. It was difficult for her to love and accept a part of herself that caused her so much shame and distress:

On one end, my breasts were a dark secret that sometimes felt to blame for my trauma — ultimately one that I didn’t really want to blame. On the other end, I was trying to embrace my body because people told me to; to try and like something that everyone told me I should.

When Horton was vacationing in Hawaii, she got upset when she had to fight to keep her breasts inside her swimsuit. This frustrating experience made her feel “totally miserable,” but also helped her reach the decision to get a breast reduction.

Horton had considered getting a reduction in the past, but explained that she never took action. Thoughts of self-judgment and self-doubt would arise, such as “I should accept my body” or “[r]ecovery would be too hard,” or “[w]hat if they ended up looking worse?”

It occurred then to Horton that her numerous attempts to love her body were pointless because she wasn’t comfortable in it. When Horton returned home, she made an appointment to meet with a plastic surgeon. Her appointment lasted only 15 minutes, because she had qualified to receive surgery and she felt certain about her decision.

Horton had no hesitations before her surgery. Moments before she checked in, she had the profound realization:

That would be the last time I’d have to carry this weight — this physical and emotional burden — that I had been holding on to for far, far too long.

A year after her surgery, Horton believed that she made the correct decision for herself. She has scars from the surgery, but she believes that “[t]hey are a testament to my experience and to a decision I made for myself.”

Horton attested that following the surgery, everyday experiences like working out or finding a swimsuit that fits well has become much easier.

She wrote:

I’m more confident and comfortable — and I think it shows.

According to SELF, for some women, large breasts can interfere with exercise and affect their self-esteem. SELF reported that according to a Finnish study, “up to a third of women who seek breast reduction surgery suffer from anxiety, depression or both.” The post-tests in the study found that after reductive surgery, the women reported less depression and higher self-esteem.

Horton knows that her breasts didn’t cause her assault and that the people who predicted she’d love her body had meant well. But she still chose to get a breast reduction because it was something she was comfortable with — independent of the two persistent, competing beliefs that plagued her childhood.

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