• Fri, Apr 19 2013

Big Boobs, Small Boobs and Everything in Between: Why Talking About Boobs is so Hard

Learning to Discuss our Breasts

Stop generalizing my breasts.

I’ve read countless articles by body-positive, well-intentioned females who just want to express their love for breasts big and small. The issue, for me, is that many of these articles unintentionally “other” or put down certain groups of women. My suggestion is not to censor ourselves or sugarcoat the issues, but we can approach the topic differently.

I really admired India-Jewel’s hilarious, candid article for xoJane, which expressed her ambivalence regarding getting a breast reduction. She expressed going from a G-cup to an A-cup, but also brought up the idea that all of her boyfriends loved her big breasts. No surprise there. The article yielded a lot of supportive comments but also brought up the fact that the grass is always, always greener for some reason.

Then there are the articles that small-breasted women write to explain why having small breasts is a good thing too (it sucks these articles must be written in the first place, but that’s reality). These articles say that you can work-out harder, small breasts stay perkier and there’s no accompanying back pain. Plus men “actually look at your face” instead of your tits.

While it is more than necessary for women to accept what they’ve been given, there are woman who are unhappy. That won’t change. Their backs do hurt, or, on the contrary, small-chested women face a culture that is breast-obsessed; the bigger, the better. Maybe there are fewer shows with characters like Pamela Anderson bouncing down the beach strip, but the problem is still very real: people perceive and equate femininity, in many cases, as it relates to breast size. Sometimes accepting what you’ve been given is difficult, but how we approach it publicly can make a difference.

The problem, I think, with articles like these, is that they somehow miss the mark. Telling us that men love your big breasts is using male attention as validation for something that is already so intrinsically linked with sexism and harassment and control. I think it might be time we take back our breasts for ourselves and unapologetically care only what we as women—or the owners of our breasts— think. It’s reassuring to have a partner who appreciates your body, but waving the public, “men like my boobs as they are” flag just sends all the wrong messages.

BTW, one study of UK men showed a correlation between preference for larger breasts and sexism/oppression. Eek. Just like these sorts of studies, there is so much out there perpetuating myths and ideas about ideal beauty and femininity, but at the end of the day, what matters is how we view ourselves, hard as that may seem.

In some ways, articles like the ones I’m discussing (and India-Jewel’s post barely reflects the worst of it; her writing was fair and kind and funny) encroach on skinny or fat-shaming territories. In short, it can be beneficial to describe why you love your breasts despite media or cultural viewpoints, but I don’t think comparisons need be made in order to qualify or justify breast beauty.

In a world where everyone is as diverse as the next and where each woman faces her own culturally or self-imposed criticisms, isn’t it best we keep the focus on ourselves and not others? We don’t need to qualify beauty by pointing out what other women are facing. Some of us (the collective “us”) love our small or big breasts. Some of us aren’t phased by what you think we might be, and some of us are in more pain than you think. So, please, don’t generalize my breasts.

If we keep these thoughts body-positive and not body-comparative then stupid comments won’t dovetail these articles, furthering the sort of sexist, anti-feminist viewpoints that ultimately hurt us—comments like, “why would you give up those god-given big breasts?” If a woman is suffering health issues, this is pretty much the worst response.

We need to respect what works for each individual body instead of making generalizations about what is sexy or who says so and why.

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  • http://twitter.com/belle_vierge Belle Vierge

    I think this is a great point. It’s definitely possible to write about loving your own body without the unwritten negative comparison to other bodies. I love my big boobs, but I’ve experienced a lot of boob-shaming over the years… almost exclusively from small-chested women. It’s hard not to lash out on the defensive sometimes, but I do my best to appreciate all boobs.

    http://www.findingmyvirginity.com/2012/08/my-big-boobs-my-business.html