On breasts and body image….or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the boob…

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Recently, Diahann Reyes wrote a beautifully eloquent and poignant post on her blog (Stories from the Belly) about how, as a woman with large breasts, she has spent a lifetime having her body objectified by others. She has experienced everything from a doctor pruriently gazing at her bare chest during an examination to flat-out idiotic comments from boorish men about her “Playboy”-like breasts. She brilliantly conveys the vulnerability she has felt in having the world generally seem to notice her breasts before ever seeing her, as a complete person.

So I feel doubly horrible as a person, and as a woman who happens to have small breasts, for after having read about her terribly negative experiences still thinking, “Yeah, but at least people notice that you have breasts and are a woman.” God forgive me for even mentally, however minutely, belittling the appalling treatment she’s received. That’s not my intention at all, and it is impossible to put myself in her shoes (or should I say her bra?) and appreciate what she’s endured.

The flip side of the boob coin is being a woman with small breasts. Breasts that, even when young and perky and supple, were never luscious and sumptuous and…..womanly. Ms. Reyes relates the experience of having a stranger in a video arcade accidentally-on-purpose brush his hand across her breast. As a teenager, I had the experience (more than once) of having a boy earnestly try to find my breast during a make-out session and honing in on my ribcage instead. Quite thrilling. Or more recently, having a lover remove my underwire, slightly-padded, give-the-girls-a-little-help bra, and dismayingly ask: “Where’d they go?”

One of my favorite posts on the subject was from Amy Longworth on The Huffington Post. Her very funny article included incredibly astute insights that only the tiny-boobed can fully appreciate. She says that despite her well-endowed friends telling her that she’s lucky, she doesn’t feel lucky because “All the men who’ve had, shall we say, interactions with my boobs have hardly been thrilled by them, and any attention directed their way is more out of politeness than genuine desire.” A spot-on observation, and over the course of 40 years of intimate experiences, one I’ve found to be true not with “all” men, but with at least 90 percent of them. And it’s disappointing not to be genuinely desired.

Ms. Longworth concludes with a priceless and amazingly accurate list of “Top Ten Small Boob Problems.” My favorites are “#8: Certain sexual endeavors are automatically ruled out; #7: You know your boyfriend loves you just as you are…but also that he wouldn’t be averse to you miraculously waking up with C-cup pups tomorrow morning; and #5: When you lie down, your boobs disappear altogether.” Ah yes, very sexy and oh-so-enticing, the disappearing boob.

And yes, I know my breasts are not, and should never be, just for the enjoyment of men. But the fact is that would find them more enjoyable—sexually and aesthetically—if they were larger, too. If that’s weird and vain and caving in to the evil male-hegemonistic culture, so be it.

I am likely past the mid-point of my life now, and my breasts long ago went through three cycles of pregnancy and breastfeeding, not to mention a substantial weight loss. And let me tell you: small, deflated breasts are not attractive by current, or for that matter, any cultural standards of which I’m aware. I imagine that large, deflated breasts are probably equally disenchanting. But the irony is that breasts, after all, are put there for one purpose: to provide nourishment and life to babies. And mine did that job quite astoundingly well. All three of my babies were healthy, thriving, bouncing little darlings, fed only with breast milk until they were five or six months old.

Which kind of gives me a new admiration for the old girls. They’ve served nobly. They’ve sacrificed themselves for a higher purpose. They’re healthy and uncomplaining. If they need a little ongoing wardrobe assistance via underwires and padding, what’s to squawk about? Which brings us to the moral of this story: accept your boobs (or your too-big butt, or your weak chin, or whatever body part is troubling you). Guaranteed, you notice your defect far more than anyone else does. Improve what you can, and accept what you can’t improve. Stop worrying, and learn to love your less-than-perfect body—it’s a miraculous, warm, desirable, love-giving, hard-working masterpiece.

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9 thoughts on “On breasts and body image….or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the boob…

  1. roma1912

    Love your post, as a small girl myself I can relate. Even more slightly disappointing is when some male acquaintances have bigger puppies than mine !!!!!

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  2. kyotoredbird

    Small-busted lady over here, too! High school boys were the worst. Snapping my bra straps, asking me if I needed band-aids for my bee stings. Girls were just as bad, giggling at me in the locker room because of my training bra (in 11th grade) while they were all wearing Victoria’s Secret. I’m in my mid twenties now and they’re still tiny. The pill helped me a little, taking me from an AA to an A, and I’m very fortunate to be married to a man that actually prefers my small size instead of just tolerating it. It’s still a struggle sometimes to accept them, especially when the dreaded bra-shopping time comes around. But they’re healthy, they’re proportional, I’m comfortable lounging without a bra, and I can rock a tiny bikini. So there are positives. 🙂

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experience with such gorgeous honesty.

    Clearly objectification doesn’t discriminate when it comes to size and shape and it is we women who must contend with the inner reverberations. I find it ironic that women on both sides of the boob size equation have been thinking the other has it better when really we all have our own struggles and insecurities. Congrats on learning to love your breasts in all their natural beauty and purpose!

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  4. Milayana

    Weirdly I have experienced both sides of this ‘boob’ conundrum. I was a late developer and I used to agonise over my lack of boobs. It upset me so much to see all my friends in the changing room looking so mature and womanly when I had nothing to show for my age. However, now I have large boobs and struggling with all the problems that the large boobed brigade keep complaining about. The irony is that now I long for smaller boobs but if I was still flat chested I would still be as upset and fixated on it as I was back then. Lets face it! We can’t win ladies! We need a pair for every occasion like shoes…

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  5. Hi again, I’d love to feature/link to this post on my FB like page- I think you do a beautiful job of chronicling both your initial response to my post and, as you say, the “flip side” of the boob equation and your evolving relation to your breasts–all of which I feel are important to chronicling our collective experience to our bodies as women. I would have emailed you directly to ask but can’t find a “contact you” button. You can reach me at diahann@diahannreyes.com.

    Like

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