Thursday, June 15, 2006

Busted

I am not a fan of big breasts - for myself. I was a late bloomer, almost flat-chested until I was about 23. I was subjected to all of the usual jokes ("you're a pirate's dream; a sunken chest"; "I can't tell whether I'm looking at your chest or back, they're exactly the same, hyuk hyuk"), et cetera, but it never bothered me. I loved my little breasts; they never got in my way, running up and down stairs caused no discomfort whatsoever (you ladies know what I'm talking about), and I could wear absolutely anything. I liked the fact that I could go braless if I wanted; I could always jack my rack with a Wonderbra if I wanted a little extra oomph that day.

By my mid-20s, I wasn't buying push-up bras any more. I have to say that it felt great to be able to fill out a bra without help, although going braless was no longer an option (too uncomfortable). I was a B-cup, not too big, not too small; "Just right!", as Goldilocks would say. I would have been perfectly happy to live with my B's for life, but they had other ideas. By the time I was 30, I was a C-cup. That might sound awesome to some of you (particularly men), but when a woman is 5'4" and a size 4, a 34C is more than her fair share of boobage. When I was 25, I was not accustomed to men staring at my chest, but it's a fairly regular occurrence now. Mind you, I'm not going to wear a burqua or stay inside for the rest of my life (the be-penised half of the human race should take responsibility and be more respectful, controlling their ogling), but I'm much more conscious of necklines than I used to be. One's body changes naturally throughout one's life - them's the breaks, we roll with it and adjust. But don't even think of calling me a bitch if I call you out for mistaking my nipples for eyes.

That being said, I cannot relate to women who get breast implants. Mine are natural, for god's sake, and I'd hop a train back to B-town in a milisecond if I were given the option. I can't really sympathize with small-chested women who'd like to be larger, since I used to live in that camp and was perfectly happy there. Don't even get me started on the infantilization of the American male, the best evidence of which is a culture-wide mommy-tit fetish, which reaches its absolute zenith here in Los Angeles.

Now I will finally get to the point, dear readers. I didn't post today so that I could brag or whine. For better or worse, breasts are what they are. Women don't give themselves congratulatory pats on the back over them (our DNA takes all the credit, and some women are so large in the chest that they can't reach their backs, anyway). The point of this post is my wonderment at what women will do to their bodies to achieve an "ideal".

I wrote in my last post that I was going to a spa on my birthday. Everybody walks around in various stages of undress at the spa, and nobody stares, because who cares? It's just other women, and staring just ain't polite. On this particular spa trip, however, I saw something that really depressed me; a beautiful, petite woman with the most horrible implants I have ever seen. She literally looked as though someone had sliced a large cantaloupe in half, inserted them into her chest and sewn her back up. Natural breasts have a teardrop shape, but these stuck straight out, and her nipples pointed down (in different directions). It was an unsettling, "did I just see that?" moment. When I realized that I was staring, I was mortified, because I know how it feels to be stared at, but lord, those breasts were a train wreck. They looked like something out of an episode of "Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong: A Dateline NBC Special". I'm relieved that she didn't notice what must have been a look of total horror on my face. At the risk of sounding terribly patronizing, I felt sorry for her; it looked like she'd been enhanced by Dr. Quack Tits, M.D. I have no idea whether she's actually happy with them or not; the fake, porn-star look is desired by some out here. Maybe she is is porn; it's possible (we were in Hollywood), but I'm not going to assume that just because she's got implants.

Let me be clear; I don't think less of women who want or get implants. What's right for my body is by no means right for everybody. I understand that there are plenty of women who have made the decision to have breast augmentation surgery and are happy with that decision. It's your body, your money, and your choice; you deal with the repercussions, so at the very least, do your research and splurge on the best doctor that's available to you. Still, my heart sinks a little every time I see fake cleavage. Am I sad because of the health risks? Because I'm making assumptions about that woman's sense of self? Because I think that fake breasts tend to be aesthetically frightening? Am I simply reacting with distaste to a beauty standard that is pushed on all women in our culture - in magazines, in films, on television, in video games - to be thin, beautiful, and stacked? I think that's probably it.

When I was an art student, I took several figure drawing classes, which had both male and female nude models - all with different, natural bodies. They weren't perfect, but each time a model posed, he or she seemed more beautiful to me than the last time I had drawn them. When you study the anatomy of the human body, when you take a piece of charcoal and trace the delicate line that connects collarbone to shoulder, jawline to neck, buttock to thigh, you cannot fail to recognize the perfection within all of the imperfections that you see. The human body is equal parts artwork and machine; there is nothing else like it on the earth. It's your most important posession, the first and last that you'll ever have. It is your only real home. That experience stayed with me, which is why I have a visceral reaction whenever I see implants, trout lips and overly taut faces. I don't see them as an improvement at all, I see them as a violation of something that was once im/perfect.

I'd like to think that I'll never consider plastic surgery, but never say never. I've always hated my nose, but I can't imagine having it cut apart and waking up to a new face staring back at me in the mirror. I certainly would jump all over reconstructive surgery if I were scarred in an accident. But, back to the breast question - if I were diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy to save my life, would I choose to reconstruct? I don't know. Maybe I'd do it, to feel symmetrical and whole again, to try to regain something that the disease took from me. Or, maybe I'd just have the other breast lopped off, and celebrate my recovery by running up and down the biggest set of stairs that I could find.

Above is a photo of Jane Russell from The Outlaw, 1943.

16 Comments:

Blogger Linnaeus said...

First off, thank you for the Jane Russell picture. :)

Second, like you, I'm personally not a fan of breast implants, though I don't begrudge anyone's choice to modify one's body. If it works for you, fine, but I personally don't find augmented breasts all that attractive.

Third, I think men (at least the right sort of men) can sympathize with the difficulty in attaining certain body standards. The pressure on men probably isn't as strong, but it's there. I'm someone who's been tall and thin most of my life, and while I've never received the kind of comments you did when you were younger, I certainly got my share of "you're too thin" reactions from people.

Fourth, I will say I have a weakness for the curvier ladies, which I don't think is a bad thing by any means.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Ben Varkentine said...

Incidentally I talked about something similar to this on my blog on Tuesday.

http://varkentine.blogspot.com/2006/06/okayi-know-this-isnt-exactly-new.html

What bothers me is the sanding down of people's differences.

I think my being repelled by augmented breasts was shaped by a girl I used to know who did in fact become a minor porn star.

She had absolutely perfect breasts (IMO) that she chose to turn into something much like what you describe.

And like Linnaeus, I can sympathize with the pressure to attain those standards from a men's perspective too (though from the other side of the fence, as it were).

1:30 PM  
Blogger Dr. Virago said...

Hi. I discovered your blog and this post via the Carnival of Feminists, and man, can I relate to the part of this post about getting gradually bigger over time. I went from A in high school to B in college to C in grad school to my current size of 32D. Like you I *miss* those nice B cups. Sigh.

And also like you, I also don't get the implant craze. As Ben, above, said, it's disheartening to see the uniformity they impose.

But I also wanted to comment just to say, off topic: wow, I used to live in LA and I *also* was an incredible Freak Magnet. And that's exactly what my friends agreed I was. Weird. This was before blogs, so I just used to send mass e-mails to folks with my latest freak stories. I have to say, once I left LA, the freak encounters stopped and now I kind of miss them. I'd have more to blog about if I still had them! :)

8:25 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

Welcome, Dr. Virago!

I agree, the urge to conform is what makes my skin crawl the most. Want bigger breasts? Well, ok, I guess, if it works for you. Want to look like Pam Anderson? Maybe you should ask yourself why. Besides, even Pam looked better years ago, when she was a normal size (she was too adorable on "Home Improvement". What happened to *that* woman? She was sliced and diced and sewn into a Fembot.

I wish I could say that the freaks have only started showing up since I moved to LA, but truthfully, I've been in living deep in the heart of Freakville since I was about 14. I can't put all the blame on Hollyweird.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous David Harmon said...

I remember (way back when) the Gary Hart/Donna Rice "affair" imbroglio. Donna Rice did *two* layouts in Playboy. The first, shortly after the affair, was very sweet -- she came across as a pretty and distinctive young woman, someone I might have wanted to ask out if I'd seen her on the street. Well, apparently she spent about a year "crashing" with Hef, who paid for a full round of plastic surgery - breasts, thighs, face, the works. In her second layout, she'd been tranmogrified into a generic "Playboy bunny" -- pillowy breasts and hips, "hard" face, etc. :-( Much less attractive, by my lights! Even sad....

2:12 PM  
Anonymous hedonistic said...

GAH! I can so relate to your situation! I'm 5'3 1/2", a size 4, and stuffing my D's into 34Cs because

a) I have a hard time finding 34Ds; and
b) I am in denial

And this is 2 years after a breast reduction!!!! They grew back!!!!

PS: I attract freaks too! I think it's because although I clean up real good I've embraced my own inner freak . . .

7:17 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

I agree David, the Playboy look is boorrrrr-ing. I have a friend who used to do retouching for Playboy - you heard me right. After these women get made over, surgically enhanced and shot in flattering lighting by the world's most talented photographers, their pics are given to a Photoshop pro for retouching. "Girl next door" my left butt cheek.

Oof.
Hedonistic, your breasts are magic. Clearly they have special regenerative powers! I guess you should just leave them be.

FYI, Victoria's Secret carries 34Ds. I highly recommend the Secret Embrace bra. It's comfy, seamless and gives a nice lift, too.

6:24 PM  
Blogger tl said...

Leave them the way God made them.
That way you look human and beautiful in your own right.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see you have connected the dots to big breasts meaning men need "mommy tits".

I have another take for you and your readers...many of these women that have small breasts like barely an A may not feel anything like a woman but merely a boy or very young girl. I found I didn't trust the men that liked my small boobs as it turned out too many were perverted about little girls!

So I would take a man that wants a woman over a man that wants a girl any day of the week my friend!

I know both sides of this issue and am glad to be counted amongst women with breasts!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better an A breast than a mastectomy! I would give anything to have my old chest back! I choose reconstruction so as to continue my happily braless status. Don't make them too big I told the plastic surgeon. Make sure they sag as is fitting a woman my age. So I have a Perky left breast foe symmetry that has twice the projection of the mastectomy side. The plastic surgeon suggested forgoing the nipple reconstruction and just going for the tatooing. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense as I still stick out twice as much on the "symmetrically? ehhanced side! I am looking into to a custom made partial protheses. At least will be able to wear that with a snug camisole and forgo the bra!

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