I’ve wanted to write something like this for a while, I guess you could call it a series of stories, things that happened to me or things I want to talk about that aren’t conventional blog posts. I’m titling it Of Hearts because it’s a play on words regarding the Queen of Hearts and my love of Alice in Wonderland but also because I’m a massive cliche and these essays will be from the heart.
The Bra Strap
I remember being scared, genuinely terrified about going to physics class in secondary school. We moved classes every few months in Year 11 as different teacher specialised in a different science and of course, we needed to learn about them all. I didn’t mind chemistry or biology, not because I was good at them, I was awful at science, like abysmal, I’m not even sure how I managed to get a GCSE, but I wasn’t dreading the subject, I was dreading the way the tables were laid out. Nobody, or rather no boy, sat behind me in chemistry or biology and I didn’t have to worry about my bra strap potentially being unhooked whilst attempting to learn a subject I struggled with.
The row I sat on consisted of five girls and we all tried to get to our table as quickly as possible because if we sat at the end, the bra-obsessed boy couldn’t reach us. I was disabled, I wasn’t fast but I was efficient and more often than not, I got to one end of the table before someone else so I couldn’t have my underwear touched.
Every lesson, one girl at my table would shriek and turn around viciously, gripping her chest. She’d either have to wait until the lesson was over and run to the toilets or inconspicuously attempt to redo her bra through her shirt. You’d think that would be easy, especially with the expertise bra-boy unhooked it, but it wasn’t. It was effort. It’s also obvious what was going on. Albeit, not obvious to our oblivious teacher that was stood mere metres from our table at the front row of the classroom.
The reason I was filled with abject terror each time I entered this classroom was because I wasn’t wearing a bra. If bra-boy got to me, he wouldn’t be unhooking my bra, he’d have been unhooking my back support that went from my waist up to just under my boobs and over a sports bra that didn’t have hooks. The hooks on mine didn’t sit in the same position the bras on all the other girls wore. Bra-boy probably wouldn’t have even been able to undo it but the thought of him trying and telling people about my ‘weird bra’ scared the shit out of me.
At the age of 16 I didn’t have boobs, and wearing a conventional bra with a support was agony so a sports bra was my only comfortable option. I was already in pain with my back due to my multiple chronic illnesses that had yet to be diagnosed and I wasn’t about to spend my days in even more pain because of a boob contraption.
The odd time that I didn’t get to sit at the end of the table was awful, I hated every second. When I wasn’t clock watching, I was sat at an angle so I could see the weird little pervert sat behind me and anticipate his every move.
He thought it was funny. His friends thought it was funny. At 16, to boys, it probably was funny but for me it was traumatic. Everyone that knew me in my year at school knew me as ‘peg leg’ or they knew I’d missed a lot of school (almost two years) due to ill health, but they didn’t know I wore supports. As a teenager that wanted to be accepted by her peers, I didn’t want anyone to find out, even my closest friends didn’t know. I was already being bullied and didn’t want to give anyone further ammunition to chastise or pick on me.
They wouldn’t bully you for that, surely!? Well, I was pretty much bullied the whole time I was in school for my health. At one point when I was using crutches, one of the girls that bullied me kicked them out from underneath me, so, I was pretty sure that if they found out about my back brace, I’d be a laughing stock.
I hear so many people say that their high school years were the best years of their lives but I wouldn’t relive mine for anything, no amount of money, nothing. I hated it. As much as I was bullied and it truly hurt me, I have never forgotten how that boy made me feel. How he could uncover a secret about me that I wasn’t ready to tell anyone. How his silly little game of unhooking bras was so terrifying for me. He had no idea. Nobody had a clue.
Before you play a prank or have a bit of ‘harmless fun’, remember the person on the receiving end may not always find your ‘joke’ funny. And don’t go round unhooking bras or touching people without their consent anyway!