Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Big Breast Debate

If there is one thing Western Society doesn’t need, it’s for more of our attention to be focused on boobs. However, the nation’s cleavages were once again thrust into the limelight today as the Daily Mail’s Bel Mooney published a witty and well-reasoned repost to Kathryn Blundell’s controversial article in a magazine for new mothers, which declared breast feeding to be ‘creepy’.

Now, I’m going to preface my contribution to the Great Boob Debate by telling you what qualifies me as a brexpert (breast expert). My tits are close to my heart, both physically, figuratively, metaphorically and symbolically. No one can fathom from wence they came, being as I am the product of two Dynasties of Modest Curves. Inexplicably, after my recovery from anorexia in 1996, I literally woke up one morning with a magnificent chest, totally out of proportion with my frame (or at least that’s how it seemed at the time). At university, I soon became known as ‘the girl with the boobs’ and celebrated and lamented them in equal measure, as I attracted admiring glances from the campus’ male dwellers but struggled to be taken seriously in my beloved debating chambers.

Bizarrely, when you consider I was in the grip of a new eating disorder by that stage, I made peace with my plentiful bosom relatively early on. There was (and continues to be) absolutely no disguising them, so I decided to make them a feature. Many years of IRG’s (inappropriately-revealing-garments) later (if you can’t do it in your mid 20s when can you?) and I’m now totally au fait with the art of the modest cleavage. I’m also reconciled to the idea that the vast majority of heterosexual males find my breasts unfathomably fascinating.

My chest was thrust upon me and as such became part of my identity (although it doesn’t totally eclipse it, fortunately). It’s usually the first thing people notice about me, and forms an element of their descriptions of me. If I devote any time to counterbalancing any subsequent bimbo assumptions, I do it so utterly unconsciously that I haven’t noticed. I’m quite happy to acknowledge that “yes, they’re huge” (34H in case you’re wondering) before moving onto the next, infinitely more interesting subject.

Having said all of the above, I do, perhaps surprisingly, have some rather strong views on the way women’s chests are sexualized and perceived and I’m thoroughly opposed to breast implants for solely cosmetic reasons. Working with teenagers is a fantastic eye-opener in this regard. Whereas men my age are, as a general rule, adverse to the idea of dome-like, rigid, plastic bosoms, guys in their teens and early twenties appear to regard them as normal. They can hardly be blamed for this. When was the last time you saw a natural looking breast in a magazine, on the internet or on television? Even those ever-decreasing minority of celebs who haven’t succumbed to the allure of plastic surgery (hang your head in shame at your glaringly obvious departure from this minority, SJP) are edited in post production so that their cups positively runneth over, and apparently they’ve now runneth’d as far as the general expectation of the collective male minds.

Girls as young as 12 are now asking their parents for birthday boob jobs, so conditioned are they by the idea that massive boobs = instant attractiveness. Once, it was relatively unusual to see implants in real life. Now, they’re as normal as fake nails (with the crucial difference of course that one cannot simply remove them at the end of the night). Again, it’s what this represents, rather than the girls themselves, that I resent (I don’t walk around emanating transparent hatred for the great plastic masses, just mild pity) – i.e. the terrifying departure we are making from natural beauty into the realms of cyborg-like uniformity.

Newsflash, boys: Sorry to disappoint but breasts are for babies. They are there to nourish our offspring first and foremost and your mysterious ability to derive sexual pleasure out of them is a secondary factor (and in my case, an unexpected bonus). Blundell’s article, which placed the blame for her aversion to breastfeeding at the door of, to paraphrase, not wanting droppy tits, is not only a testament to our increasingly aesthetic obsessed society, it’s also vaguely pathetic. There I was thinking I was, to an extent, defined by my breasts and here is a woman so chest-centrically-obsessed she is prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing of her own children in her quest for perkiness.

Bel Mooney hits the nail squarely and spectacularly on the head with her observation that this is an example of our changing (for the worse) attitudes towards femininity and you can read her article by clicking http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1290442/BEL-MOONEY-How-sad-mothers-seen-sex-objects-breastfeed-child.html.

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