Let’s talk about breasts. Boobs, titties, knickers, baps. Whatever you want to call them. Just a human body part. So, what is all the fuss?
For a long time I thought I hated my breasts. I resented the attention they brought, the assumptions & limitations they imposed. I even looked into a surgical reduction to be rid of their weight. It’s only in recent years that I have realised that there is actually lots I enjoy about breasts. I didn’t hate them, they had just been weaponised against me.
Boobs are great. They feel nice. Breasts can be comforting. Nipples can have incredible sensation. They add lovely curves to the body. Mine look great in lots of things. They can sustain new life. Sure I wish my own didn’t give me back ache but they’re part of me and I like me.
Why all the hate, then? Well, we live in a world that projects so much onto these mounds of tissue. It starts so young. If you are a late bloomer, you are free game for mocking. Develop fast or bountifully and you will be Objectified. I managed to combine both. I was flat as a pancake and then between 14-15 years old my breasts went into overdrive. There’s years of being sexualised. Your peers will do it and you’re told ‘boys will be boys’. Then it somehow becomes a teenage girl’s fault that adult teachers are uncomfortable that they can see bra lines through a white school shirt or that her breasts bounce in P.E. Strange adults on the street will shout gross comments at a child in a school uniform. The bus driver will come onto you every day on the way home from school. Friend’s Mums will view you suspiciously because your body means you are not a ‘nice girl’. All along assumptions are made about who you are and how you can be treated purely by the fact that the tissue on your chest grew bigger than other girls your age.
As you grew older it just becomes more overt. Men in bars will comment on your body and if you complain you’re told it’s your own fault for showing cleavage. Any night out will include at least one random groping from a person you didn’t even say hello to. Getting angry garners insults. You are a slut or you’re ugly because you object to being sexually assaulted. Friends of friends will refer to you as ‘that girl with the huge boobs’. Jokes are made, envy expressed, inappropriate bra size enquiries are never ending. All the while there is an underlying implication that this is your fault. You are judged because of a body that you didn’t choose or have any control over.
It extends way beyond individual experiences. Everyone in possession of a pair is bombarded with messages about our own form. We have all had lists of things we can & cannot do. Don’t show bra straps, but you need a bra to control or enhance your shape. Clothes that aren’t ok for your body. Clothes that are sending a message. Activities we give up because we’re so tired of the attention we attract. We’re shamed if someone can see the outline of a nipple. Censored everywhere because a female presenting chest is sexual; even when it is feeding an infant. We still live in a world where using a breast for its intended purpose can be controversial. It’s all patriarchal bullshit.
Our bodies are not inherently sexual. Seeing a nipple isn’t provocative. Breasts are just fat and tissue and skin. No more or less obscene than a nose or an armpit. The size and shape of our constituent parts bears no indication of who we are. Neither does how we choose to adorn them.
I feel sad that I ever considered surgically changing my body purely to avoid misogyny in its many forms. I am exhausted that at 41 I still have to explain the same point I was making at 16. None of this new. Yet, there are still umpteen men in my DMs every week talking only about my tits. I still get cat called and disapproving looks. A few years back a GP pointed out that she could see my bra poking out of a vest top and asked what message I thought that sent. This educated, professional woman could not understand my anger or the reason I complained about her comments.
I don’t how or when we bring this to an end. I do know it starts with me (& you) taking back my body. I am not for public consumption. I will continue to wear whatever pleases me. I’ll delete gross comments and if you dare to sexually harass me the very least you can expect is a loud fuck off. My breasts are large, my cleavage exquisite, but most of all they are mine.
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