Self-image:
“I'm flat as a board at 16!”

Dear Annie,

I'm a junior in high school and let me just start by saying: being a junior sucks. It's not just the year itself but me that seems to be the problem. One example, off the top of my head... my friend constantly tells me I'm a downer... I'll admit it, I do often have a glass half empty outlook, but I've always been that way. And then there's the whole body image thing. I know I should be happy with what I've got and blah blah blah but I still wish I could get out of the training bra section. It's so awful having friends tell me that they wish they didn't develop and I should be happy that I'm flat as a board at 16. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can start anew and get a positive outlook so that I don't become seriously depressed?

Waiting to sprout

Dear Waiting to sprout,

You inherited your breast size in the same way you inherited your shoe size, your hair color, the size of your nose, even your temperament (that part of you that leans toward the "glass half empty" outlook).

Today, with surgery, people can and do change an awful lot of the physical traits that they were born with. But if you're looking to become a happier "glass half full" kinda person, that takes a different kind of changing. It's way cheaper than surgery, zero health risks involved, but it does take work and a willingness to take a close look at the parts of your temperament that aren't working so well for you.

For example, you are all set to go to a movie with some friends. Say it's a movie that you're really excited to see. You get to the theater and the show is sold out. Maybe that's a time when your "half empty" temperamental trait kicks in and you're totally bummed out. You and your friends try to come up with a Plan B, but you're so disappointed at not being able to see the movie you wanted, you get depressed or bitchy. More stress for you and the people around you. Do you have control over what you're feeling and what you're doing with those feelings? YES!

Disappointment is a normal reaction to a change in plans, but it doesn't have to lead into a spiral of: "This sucks! This always happens. I never get what I want, blah, blah, blah."

Take a look at what traits you have that work to make you feel better in times of stress. (Maybe you have a good sense of humor. Maybe you are a great listener. Maybe you are creative about coming up with ideas.) The key to "starting anew" is to know what temperament traits you've got that work FOR you and USE them when you're feeling down, instead of letting the way you've "always been" dictate the way you always will 'til the day you die.

You always have a choice about how you react to any situation.

Focus on what isn't working for you. Look at the alternatives you have at your disposal. Choose something that works better.

Notice, I haven't talked much about your "problem" about being "flat as a board at 16." That's because your breast size is not the problem here. It's your reaction to it. Sure your friends could make it easier for you by not talking about breast development, and you can tell them that. Tell them how it makes you feel when they say that stuff. But bottom line, you can't control what they say. You can only control how you choose to respond to what other people do and what's going on inside you. Breast size is only as important as you want to make it. It seems like you're making it so important that it is making you unhappy. So stop doing that.

The woman you are becoming is not measured by bra size. Your ability to love others is not measured by bra size.

How's all of that sound to you?

In friendship,

Annie

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