The New Girl: Rhyannon Styles On Buying Her First Bra

ELLE's transgender columnist on what it's like to grow breasts aged 32

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In 2012 I started my transition and decided to be true to myself.

I knew I couldn't wait any longer – I'd known since I first saw Madonna gyrating on TV as a teenager that I was a girl.

Although for much of my life I'd kept the desire a secret. It took me years to piece together how I felt and work it out.

One of my first priorities was replacing my male wardrobe with a feminine one.

This took months to get right and I often failed.

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One of the main problems was trying to find female clothes which looked amazing on a body which had gone through a male puberty.

You see, male and female skeletons and bone structures are different and clothes patterns reflect this.

Female clothes allow for breasts, hips and bums – which I longed to have. When I was naked and looked in the mirror, Ryan was still looking back at me. It felt horrible and disorientating.

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I knew when I started to take hormones that I would go through a second puberty and hopefully acquire these sought after assets, I was desperate to begin.

In 2014 I began taking oestrogen, it was a small dose of 2mg at first which gradually increased to 8mg this year.

I knew that very slowly I would begin to grow breast tissue.

This new reality scared me, I was 32-years-old and about to gain a completely new body part.

Would I actually like having breasts and was this what I really wanted?

I knew that once I'd been taking oestrogen for a period of time that the growth would be irreversible.

Pre-hormones I bought bras which were easy to pad. I didn't spend too much time thinking about it, I opted for cheap high street bras and stuffed them with bags of rice.

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I hated how the padding felt next to my skin, it was sweaty and cumbersome.

When I took my bra off and revealed my flat chest I felt disheartened – it reminded me I was a man.

The reality of growing breasts scared me. I was 32-years-old and about to gain a completely new body part

Many trans people opt for surgeries to adjust their bodies in line with how they feel. Surgery was a big step for me, and breast augmentation wasn't something I could afford.

A quick internet search suggested prices starting from £5,000. I looked forward to growing my own breasts even though the wait was frustrating and agonising.

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I decided to invest in new underwear which I hoped would make me feel sexy and feminine, I hoped it would at least alleviate my impatience.

I'd read that massaging your new breasts is a good way to stimulate growth. I'd be lying in bed every night, spreading coconut oil over my chest and massaging away, in the hope it would speed up the process – it never did, but at least my skin felt soft!

Trying to navigate the lingerie section in high street shops felt like trying to find your way around a new city without a map. I was completely lost.

Shopping on my own confused me and I didn't know where to begin.

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This new system of cup sizes, balcony, plunge and underwired bras baffled me.

I'd missed this opportunity with my girlfriends when I was a teenager. Feeling like I was back at square one, I invited a really close girlfriend, Helen, to help me find a way through this maze of new fabric and new sizes.

I opted for cheap high street bras and stuffed them with bags of rice

It's distressing, walking around the lingerie floor, seeing adverts of women with amazing boobs looking back at you.

Again, it only highlighted what was going to take years for me to develop on my own – if at all.

Helen and I walked around looking for designs which complemented my style.

We looked for bras with the option of padding and which also allowed for my own natural growth.

The experience of being with someone else who had also gone through the same process was priceless.

Helen was running back and forth out of the changing rooms, replacing the bras and looking for different sizes.

She advised me to avoid plunge cups as they would hide my chest completely – I didn't know the difference!

Through pain-staking trial and error I discovered that a 34A balcony bra felt comfortable around my back, and not too tight.

I was grateful to have managed the task, it felt like a huge relief to find something comfortable. I ended up buying two identical bras because they felt so good.

I was moving forward and my underwear finally reflected this.

Now, my breasts are still developing.

I can wear low cut tops and not worry about a chicken fillet popping out

I've moved up from 34A to 36B. I'm quite proud of that myself, maybe all the massaging did pay off!

I now know the difference between bra styles and what to shop for.

Embracing boobs, has changed my style.

I needn't worry about covering up my padded bras anymore and I feel comfortable revealing my cleavage.

I can wear low cut tops and not worry about a chicken fillet popping out.

Looking in the mirror now is totally different experience.

I smile to myself as I look at what I've grown and how comfortable that makes me feel.

It's as though they always should have been there.

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