After a lifetime harbouring a secret, Kerri Sackville writes for news.com.au on why she's speaking out.
Last month, I saw a woman with my body shape on the red carpet for the very first time. I am 50 years old and I had never related to anyone so much in my life. She was Saggy Boob Woman, and she was a revelation. She is my new spirit animal.
I am Saggy Boob Woman, too.
As a slim, white female, I can't exactly complain about my representation in the media. People who look like me — or, you know, much taller, younger, firmer versions of me — are everywhere. And I absolutely recognise how unfair this is.
I've been delighted to see more diversity in the media of late, with women of colour, plus-size women, trans women and women with disabilities all appearing more prominently.
And mostly, I've felt pretty good about my body. My shape is perfectly acceptable; at least, it is perfectly acceptable from the outside. From the outside, everything is right where it should be. The bum is in the right place, the legs are in the right place, and the boobs are in the right place, a good hand span from my navel.
But I have been harbouring a shameful secret, and those close to me — my kids, close girlfriends, a few select men — know the dark truth. The boobs aren't in the right place at all. They have been held up, artificially, by an extreme push-up bra. I've been wearing wires and padding and hooks and elastic just to pass as a regular, firm-breasted female.
Now, it's unsurprising that I'm not really a firm-breasted female. I've had three children, two of whom I breastfed for almost a year. My boobs were never exactly perky, but after the third hoovering mouth worked her magic, they were no longer even pointing in the right direction.
And so, I modified them. I pushed them into place and enhanced them with all sorts of miracle bras, some so uncomfortable they dug deep grooves into my back or sprung tiny wires into my chest.
Still, I didn't realise the extent of my own oppression because I couldn't even envision an alternative. I'd never seen a woman with saggy boobs on my screens or gracing the cover of magazines. All the models and celebrities seemed to have lovely pert boobs that defied gravity and the sucking of hungry babies.
The only boobs that looked like mine were in the "before" photos on plastic surgeons' websites. And if I'd been more vain, I might have been tempted to buy myself the "after".
And then, last month, everything changed.
Singer Tanerélle walked the red carpet at the BET awards in a dress that showed off her natural saggy boobs. She didn't tape them up, as so many celebrities do, or use a built-in padded bra or even look ashamed of her lack of cleavage. It was revelatory.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was also controversial.
People don't like it when we women are unapologetic about our bodies, especially when those bodies don't reflect accepted norms.
Tanerélle was trolled and asked why she didn't wear a bra, and eventually, she released a brilliant statement on Twitter.
"To all the negative comments about today's look, I don't need to lift my breasts to wear a f***ng dress.
"I'm a woman and my natural tits hang and I f***ing love it and I have no intention of changing it to suit your gaze. I'm out here living my dreams, focus on better things."
I cheered. I took my bra off. I followed the #saggyboobsmatter hashtag on Twitter. I said a little prayer of thanks to Tanerélle, the newly minted Queen of Saggy Boobs for normalising something I hadn't even realised was so stigmatised.
I looked down at my own saggy boobs and realised they were perfectly great.
We are all perfectly great in all our shapes and sizes and degrees of elasticity.
I'm not quite ready to walk a red carpet without a bra, but then again, I haven't been invited to any red carpets.
But I may just go to the supermarket this afternoon without padding or underwires or uplift. And I can stand up and say with pride that I, too, am a Saggy Boob Woman.
We are here! We are pendulous! Get used to it.