By Cedar Goslin
Our culture is breast obsessed. They catch our eye, hold our attention and are a big factor when deciding a woman’s attractiveness. We love talking about boobs; there’s hardly a conversation topic that can’t be improve by the mention of a good boob. Women’s clothing is designed to display breasts in a flattering manner, and there are articles upon articles written to advise women on how to hold their posture to best show off her goods.
All of this begs the question why are we so infatuated with breasts? Does our obsession stem from admiration? I’d argue that such is not the case. Our culture may be obsessed with breasts, but that doesn’t mean we like them– for we certainly do not. But wait, you say, how can be both be obsessed with breasts and dislike them? That’s impossible. But it’s not impossible. And now, without further ado, I shall prove why.
No breasts are ever good enough. Because teenage girls clearly don’t have enough to feel
insecure about, it’s mandatory that they also feel inadequate about their newly budding breasts. No, seriously, I’m pretty sure they don’t let a girl graduate high school unless she’s spent at least ten hours total standing in front of the mirror cursing her chest. Many people tend to assume that the biggest crime a boob can commit is being too small, but there are actually a lot of things that can be wrong with breasts–back in the day, I was teased because mine were too big. Perhaps there is some sort of magical baby bear cup size that is neither too big nor too small, but just right; however, I have yet to see it. Boobs can also be lopsided, uneven or oddly shaped– and those are just the imperfections that are obvious when clothing is being worn. Young girls can try to mend their boob imperfections by stuffing their bras or flattening them down with minimizers; I remember seeing my peers in the locker room clustered in front of the mirror, spending more time on adjusting their breasts than they spent on their hairdos. But when women grow up, they’re encouraged to take extreme measures. Movies and advertisements remind us that our boobs are offensively imperfect, but luckily there is an answer! Plastic surgery. You can reductions, implants, adjustments, alignments– there isn’t a booby flaw that can’t be cut and snipped into conformity. Just make sure no one knows you got the surgery, because even though we’re encouraged to fix up our boobs, it’s frowned upon when we actually do. Did I lose you? Let’s recap: boobs should be big but not too big, perfectly aligned and perfectly shaped; if your boobs fail to meet any of these standards, then you better shell out roughly $4000 for a complicated and painful surgery, which you will then be judged and ridiculed for getting. Make sense? I hope not.
Breast feeding offends us. We love looking at boobies. We paint their likeness on cars and shape a myriad of novelty toys after them. Not only that, but female tops are specifically designed to display them; they lift, collards dip and fabric clings. Bikini tops are covering less and less, and we like it that way. Yes, we’re a culture that encourages the display of breasts… unless, of course, they have a baby latched to them. Then they become obscene and disgusting, and the women the offending boob belongs to becomes immodest and rude. I’m not making any particular statement about whether it’s appropriate or not for women to breast feed in public, but don’t you think it’s a little weird that the only time we have a problem with breasts being shown off in public is when they’re fulfilling their actual biological purpose? In other words, boobs are only acceptable when sexualized to the benefit of someone other than the woman they belong to, which transitions right into the next point.
We turn breasts into sex toys. Ridicule, the plastic surgery hype, the popularity of boob knick-knacks and a dramatic aversion to breast feeding; what do all of these factors have in common? They’re all meant to transform a human body part from subject to object. Making women feel inadequate about their breasts creates a resentment for them that encourages the woman to reject her breasts as part of her body.
The society around these women then objectify breasts by turning them into novelty toys, and encouraging the use of breasts as sexual objects, while at the same time rejecting their practical/natural uses. This teaches women and girls that their breasts are not for them at all, but rather something for the sexual enjoyment of others, which just happens to be hanging from their chest. The idea that a woman’s boobs are public sex objects is enforced every day by the media and the public; people feel no qualms about commenting on a woman’s breasts. I can’t count how many people have said to me “wow, you have big boobs!” I’m not sure what’s more baffling, that they feel they have the right to comment on my breasts, or that they think I’ve somehow failed to notice the size of my own bosom.
Of course, all of this is leading up to plastic surgery. I’m not referring to health related operations or reductions to help with back pain, I mean boob jobs. The artificial modification of breasts to improve their physical appearance: the ultimate transformation from body part to sex toy. What, you think that’s a little harsh? The purpose of a boob job is to increase the sex appeal of a woman’s breasts for the benefit of the opposite sex; not only that, but the woman who receives the surgery often loses some or all feeling in her breasts. The woman can no longer experience any pleasure from her own breasts. So after surgery, the breasts have literally become objects, the purpose of which is to satisfy sexual desire: that sounds like a sex toy to me.
But what’s the point of all this? Good question. It boils back down to the crippling fear our society has of a woman’s sexuality. It’s true that Western culture is obsessed with breasts, but that obsession isn’t rooted in admiration, but rather fear. It’s so threatening to us that a woman’s breasts could be used for something other than the sexual pleasures of men that we won’t even allow her to feed her child without being ridiculed; the exposure of her breasts has to be on our terms, never her’s. And God forbid a woman should actually experience pleasure from her own breasts, that’s simply obscene. So we’ll turn them into objects. Just like the clitoral mutilation used by other cultures, the practice of objectifying and performing plastic surgery on breasts is just another way to restrict the sexuality of women by removing the pleasure from sexual activity.
Who’s afraid of the big bad breasts?
How can we change things? As women, we need to stop bending to the fear and ignorance of others. We need to stop seeing our breasts as the property of those around us, and instead see them as what they are; parts of our bodies, to do with whatever we please. If someone has a problem with your body, then that’s their problem. When you get in the mindset that your body is not meant to please anyone but you, it’s easier to feel secure with the way you are. Stop trying to please others. Stop getting plastic surgery. Be a subject, not an object.
If society is afraid of your body, then that’s it’s problem, but you have nothing to fear.