[info]karnythia recently posted a wonderful post about dealing with unwanted male attention, and it made me revisit a draft of a post I started writing after the I Write Like meme stuff I posted. The original post wasn’t about the story I’m sharing here. This was originally background information, but the more I wrote, the more this became its own story.

When I was twelve, I went on a school-sponsored camping trip. We went away for a week, and stayed in cabins for all but one night. On the last night, some of us were selected by lottery to go on a tent overnight.

I was one of the lucky kids who was chosen to go. I’m not sure how it happened, being the social outcast I was in middle school, but I wound up in a tent with a group of the more popular girls in my grade. These girls were usually very nice to me, but why they chose me for their tent is still beyond me. But they were friendly and inclusive, and for that night, I actually felt like I belonged in their group.

We pitched our tent fairly close to a tent belonging to a group of boys in our grade, one of whom I had a massive (and I thought, undying) crush on. I thought nothing of it.

Then it was time for bed, and in hushed whispers, the girls in my tent arranged a game of Truth or Dare with the boys across the way. I remember feeling apprehensive– I was thrilled, in part, to be permitted, even if just for one night, to be included in a game that was one of those secret realms of the popular, a game to be played at parties that boys came to. But I was also afraid. What if someone asked me to do something I didn’t want?

I decided the easiest way to deal with the situation was to just answer “Truth.”

We played without leaving our tents, whispering our demands and our responses between the two. It made it difficult to come up with good dares, but somehow, they came anyway. It was strange, though, this lack of association that the boundaries of the tents created.

When my first turn came around, they asked me, if I had to date any boy in the school, who would it be?

Of course, the boy it would have been was in the next tent. I was mortified, I didn’t want to say his name and have them all laugh. He already had a girlfriend, as much as any twelve-year-old could have a girlfriend, and it was one of the more popular girls, that these girls were friends with. I said I didn’t know, I didn’t like any of the boys.

They said I had to pick one. One of them suggested a name, a boy who was nice enough but probably someone they thought was socially acceptable for me to date– not too cute, not too popular.

And I named a completely different boy, one whom I thought was very conventionally attractive but not someone they were friends with, who I thought wouldn’t be an asshole about it if he found out.

They all laughed at me, incredulous, because he was shorter than me. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but it wasn’t really that big a deal. I was a little embarrassed for a moment, but we moved on.

Another girl asked for a dare, and the boys told her to hand her bra across to their tent.

Things went quiet in our tent for a moment. The girl in question looked at all of us and whispered, quiet enough that the boys couldn’t hear, that she wasn’t wearing a bra.

One of the girls told her to just tell them, but she was too embarrassed to let the boys know she wasn’t wearing one. Finally, I asked her what size bra she wore.

“34A,” she said.

I said that was my size.

The girls looked at me with disbelief. “But your boobs are so huge!” one of them whispered.

The boys didn’t seem to catch on that this was taking so long. I suspect maybe they just thought that’s how long it took to get a bra off. I, meanwhile, started taking off mine, and handed it to her. She gave it to the boys, claiming it was her own.

The boys passed the bra back a couple of minutes later, and it didn’t look like they’d done anything weird to it. Knowing the boys in question fairly well, I think the dare was largely spurred by a combination of genuine curiosity and the fact that that’s what they thought they were supposed to be doing. None of them laughed or made any lewd comments. It wasn’t creepy in the way it might have been, and I didn’t feel pressured to hand over my bra.

The other girl was spared humiliation, and the game went one, but I don’t remember anything else about it.

It was the first time anyone told me I had big breasts. Uncertain, I went to my mom and told her an edited version of this story (leaving out the fact that it had come up during a game of truth or dare). She took me bra shopping shortly after that, and I was re-fitted with a 34C. In eighth grade, I was wearing a D, and then a DD.

By the time I was in ninth grade, I was having to special-order my bras.

But that night was the first moment in my life when I was even aware that I had breasts that were even a little larger than average. Somehow, looking in the mirror every day, the way preteen girls do, I never noticed the difference between the shape of my body and the shapes of other girls’ bodies. It took another girl to point it out to me, in the dark, in a tent. Until that moment, my breasts had never been part of my identity, and after that moment, it became increasingly difficult for them not to be.