*This is a series dedicated to helping us understand our bodies a little more. It is so important to honour and look after our bodies as women, as they do so much. Our bodies are an Amanah entrusted to us from Allah and a gift. That is why it is incredibly important to enlighten ourselves, educate, and learn the ins and outs no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable. Our health must always come first.*
As a Muslim woman, breasts have always been uncomfortable for me to discuss. I used to think it was part of modesty to never speak about them, understand them or even look at them. Mostly because no one told me it was ok to ask questions and to observe my own body, and talk about my body. But growing up, my sudden adolescent breast development, helped me to understand the importance of getting to know our bodies, as 1 we can start to freak out about medical issues that are not really there, 2 it is normal if your breasts look different, breasts have different sizes and shapes, and it doesn’t make you any less beautiful if your breasts don’t look like the ones you might have seen on tv. Even after adolescent breast development mine never truly ‘came in’ how I wanted them to. They were humble to me, so much so, I was ashamed of going into women’s underwear shops like Ann Summers, as I felt like I simply didn’t belong, as I had to use cup bras and relied on padding and support. It made me feel like less of a woman.
Why is it important to know the shape, feel and size of our breasts and nipples? Because, self-diagnosis and worry as a result of not being educated on our bodies, can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress. Likewise, lack of awareness and knowledge surrounding our bodies can also lead to illnesses if they are not treated. I remember finding a lump in my breast once, I was very worried about it, so I booked an appointment with my GP to check my breast. It turned out I was still growing, and my breasts were quite lumpy during the time. My GP told me to take a feel of them, to understand that this was just the way my breasts were at the time, so as to not worry myself in the future about any lumps I might feel.
During the 60’s in the medical profession, women’s breasts were a key identifier in learning more about her health in general. However, this was abolished later on, due to the fact that women had many different sizes, colours, and shapes of breasts, therefore, a single unifying canonical assessment couldn’t possibly take place.
“Breasts are defined as either of the pair of mammary glands extending from the front of the chest in pubescent and adult females (1). In adolescents, breast growth is primarily caused by the secretion of estrogen from ovaries.”
According to the research of Claire McWeeney, content manager at Clue, there are said to be 9 key breast shapes, defined by experts at Thirdlove a startup in San Fransisco that set up a dictionary that defines breast shapes to help women identify theirs. I am sure this list is a starting basis,as many women may deviate from this, as Allah created us uniquely. So do not fret if you cannot relate.
“The nipples are said to be defined as the “protuberance of a mammary gland which in the female the lactiferous ducts open and milk can be drawn” (2). It is surrounded by the areola, a ring of pigmented skin.
The main definitions for nipple shape are said to be divided first into 4
So dermatologist and paediatrician Dr. Tsipporta Shainhouse, did an interview with Seventeen magazine, she identified the following types of nipples.
Key facts to take into consideration
Check your breast regularly, there is no hard and fast in how often you should be checking them. This could range from every month or every few months, just make sure you do check them. This ensures that if there is anything wrong, doctors can act quickly and hopefully can treat you before it develops further. The main thing is, this is your body look after it, understand it, and help it when it is giving you signs that something is not right, you are in control.
I hope these tips were helpful, remember to do research responsibly, to speak to your doctor directly, as every body is different, and try to stay calm at all times.