Since finding body-confidence and making peace with my imperfections at the age of 31 after having my two children, it feels unimaginable to think of any body as ugly embarrassing or disgusting. I’m in absolute awe of how incredible and resilient our bodies are with their ability to heal and create life – a true miracle and work of art in every shape, size and texture.
Romantically, my boyfriend and I exchanged £1,000.00 gold rings for our first anniversary, although they were somewhat different to the jewellery that you would traditionally find incased in velvet at a jewellers. Our gold rings were in fact objet d’art sphincters, a unique, loving and intimate part of our bodies that symbolised our love for one another so beautifully uniquely. For our second anniversary this year we therefore decided to follow on with this theme by exchanging and immortalising our mammaries in art and the results are just wonderful.
We chose to turn our nipples into anniversary art because it is a part of our bodies that are unique and personal to us. Close to our hearts, they come in contact when embracing in a hug or cuddled up lovingly in bed. Nipples are something that we all have and shouldn’t feel ashamed of or embarrassed no matter their shape or size because our bodies make us the individuals that we are. Whilst my boyfriends nipples are small and precise mine are larger and more erect from breastfeeding, both beautifully unique and complimentary to one another in their own way.
To create our art we decided to make the castings the same size and to finish it with metallic silver paint for unity as well as to match the decor of our home. We wanted the nipples to be the focal piece of the art just as it is on the torso positioned at the very centre portion of the breast – which is linked to the mammary glands to produce milk – and the areola being the darker coloured area surrounding it providing texture to outline the piece.
Browsing online for suitable materials to create our anniversary art from, we stumbled upon a clay baby hand and foot casting kit – traditionally used by parents to capture the tiny and delicate features of newborn babies which can be cherished forever.
The process of creating a mould from any part of the body is pretty quick, easy and straightforward as equal parts of alginate impression moulding powder are mixed with warm water to create a squishy gel-like substance which hardens rather quickly. Blue Peter eat your heart out!
Carefully positioning and then pressing our nipples into the warm wet alginate mould, the substance quickly set in under a minute, lightening in colour to show that the process was complete and leaving us with an exact copy of our nipples – along with a few air bubbles for good measure!
It was immediately clear to see that my boyfriends nipple (on the left) is far smaller than mine (on the right) and he positioned his slightly off-centre; quirky touches that made the experience all the more loving and unique for us both.
Following this we mixed clay and water to a sauce-like texture before pouring it into the moulds we had created and allowing it to harden for a couple of hours as we went about our day.
Upon turning the clay casts out once they were dry, there were just a few trapped air bubbles to remove easily from the surface of the clay with a knife. We decided to paint the nipples using a silver metallic paint which unified the two casts and are so pleased with the finish and results.
Attaching the nipples to a box frame with double-sided tape, our anniversary mammaries now take pride of place in our lounge and will undoubtedly will be a very unique and lovingly personal talking point for many years to come.
Our homes are often filled with old photographs and sentimental nic-nacs which tell a story and contain our most wonderful memories, so why not create personal art that can do the same? Whilst romantic holidays are often celebrated with the exchange of love hearts and flowers, mammaries have become a taboo and get overlooked.
I remember crying over my once normal breasts as my areola’s enlarged from pregnancy and their size and shape changed dramatically from breast feeding. I questioned if anyone could ever look upon them as being attractive again and felt incredibly insecure with their difference. When in actual fact my breasts fed my children, grew with me and are a part of my journey through life as a woman – something I now wholeheartedly celebrate and feel grateful for.
I didn’t realise that men have the very same concerns about their own nipples – the fear of them becoming too big or having burger nips or moobs – the more-fuller male equivalent of boobs. Adolescents feeling crippled by insecurity with girls padding their bras and boys even taping down their protruding nipples, ashamed, upset and feeling entirely alone with the development of their bodies. When in actual fact the size of our nipples does not matter, they are as unique to us as a fingerprint or face and not something to stress about or ever feel ashamed of. Our bodies make us who we are and the right person will love us unconditionally for it.
As a woman, a mother and partner I feel empowered by my nipples; the journey of life that my mammaries have served me upon by feeding my children and changing shape, size and colour as time and circumstance change along the way has been fascinating. There is no need to be perfect, no such thing as a one-size fits all in beauty and nothing is more magical, meaningful and real as being uniquely you for all of your incredible imperfections and differences.
I believe we should all embrace our breasts at every age, gender and size. Be hands-on and knowledgeable about the skin that we are in and celebrate our bodies whilst respecting our health by checking for lumps and attending scans and check-ups. We should examine ourselves for any changes, know our partner intimately and use our understanding of ourselves and one another to recognise and prevent illness and disease. Life is too short to be embarrassed by taboos; it’s time to love our bodies the same way that they love, serve and protect us.