Worth Your Weight

July 11, 2008

Breast image

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 10:59 pm

My relationship with my breasts — how I feel about them, how I view them — is inextricably tied to being fat. Therefore, my breast image has always been negative, like my body image. I’m working to change that though.

It’s a challenge. I came of age when the paragons of beauty were the original supermodels: Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista. They all had the requisite modelly modest bust. I, too, wanted a more humble bosom. At least that way I would be similar to the ideal in one way. It was not to be. I was fat with large-ish to large breasts. I amfat with large-ish to large breasts.

Of course, in my mind it was cause and effect. My being fat caused me to have the opposite of the breasts I wanted. I wasn’t able to fathom that either being fat or having the type of boobs I developed was just the way I was made. Or that the two went together just like any other hereditary traits. No, I sadly believed I caused myself to be fat and my being fat caused my undesired bazooms.

What bothered me even more about my girls than uncooperative size was droop. It may’ve been the case all along, but I started to notice around age 20 that I actually began manually lifting and positioning them into the bra. I had always thought the dreaded sag was a result of aging and/or going braless. Well, I had just turned 20, and I’ve worn a bra since I was a pre-teen. So I figured any lack of perkiness was due to being fat. Thus began a decade of breast hating.

My first breakthrough in making peace with my bust happened while watching the film The Magdalene Sisters. I highly recommend this movie, although it could possibly be triggering due to, amongst other things, sexual assault/abuse and anorexia. The film is based on true life experiences and chronicles the punishment young Irish women endured in the 1960s for being raped, unwed mothers, or just too pretty. They were sent to work in the Magdalene laundries, run by nuns. Sometimes they were imprisoned there the rest of their lives.

There is an especially harrowing scene where the girls are lined up naked while two nuns assess their bodies: who has the biggest breasts, who has the largest bum. It’s heartbreaking. Quite unexpectedly I noticed something that took me out of the film for a moment. One of the young women had breasts just like mine, but she wasn’t fat. That really floored me. I had associated the shape of my breasts with the fact that I was fat so much that it never ever occurred to me that just maybe that shape of breast was but one flavor of many.

In my experience, I had little to no exposure to other women’s naked bodies. I should clarify: real, live women. Of course, I’d seen actresses bare their breasts in movies and many paintings, sculptures of nudes. But I didn’t have a clue as to the breadth of variety of breasts. I wonder how many of us do. A problem, I think, is pr0n (I don’t like typing the real word). Naomi Wolf wrote an excellent essay* about this.

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value.

As Wolf writes, not only are men’s expectations about women’s bodies held to a pr0n standard, but women’s expectations of their own bodies are filtered through those men’s eyes. I think the proliferation of pr0n also profoundly affects women’s evaluation of their own bodies — in whole and part — in relation to their body image self-esteem, independent of what men would think. Because when else do we get to see bared breasts other than our own? Even if we actively avoid it, pr0n is rather permeative.

The more I learned about breast diversity, the less I hated mine. I caught most of a great documentary simply titled Breasts. Another one I’d heartily recommend, especially if you feel uninitiated when it comes to different breast types. This doc has helped me go even further in accepting my bosom as is. Again, it’s really useful to encounter a variety and see myself actually represented there, especially when I started in a place where what can be an important part of a woman’s identity, my breasts, felt like an anomaly and one I’d brought on myself by being fat, to boot.

The participants, most of whom appear topless, represent a wide range of age, size, race and background. They include an 11-year-old on the verge of puberty; a breast-feeding mother; a 24-year-old with a breast reduction; a stripper with implants; two women with mastectomies; the self-proclaimed leader of the “Strong Breast Revolution;” a transsexual; a 49-year-old who is concerned about the safety of her silicone implants; a 420-pound comedienne; and two mother-daughter pairs. Their candid thoughts are humorous, moving, and often surprising.

One of the latest steps in my journey towards a more positive breast image happened while I was shopping for Japanese goods at J-List. If, like me, you are susceptible to episodes of prudery, I strongly suggest going to the under-18 version of the shop, JBOX. Of course, if I hadn’t mindlessly been browsing the 18-and-older site, I wouldn’t have made a bit more breast positivity progress. At J-List, I saw a thumbnail pic of Shoko Goto, “a busty Japanese adult video actress.” I was surprised. Her bust size is larger than mine, but the shape/ptosis was the same. And here she was being held up as a certain type of ideal! It made me feel better, especially since she’s not fat. This really caused me to believe that sometimes it’s not that large breasts sag. It’s more that they’re shaped differently from large and perky breasts. It’s just a variation. This is in danger of becoming my mantra, but variation is not aberration.

The latest boost to my breast esteem was after I read Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. The book inspired me to actually look at myself naked in the mirror once in a while — without being negative, actually with kindness. It’s not always easy, and it does take some effort and dedication. But it’s helping. As do the Fatosphere and especially The Adipositivity Project. It’s nice to be coming to the conclusion that my breasts just are. They aren’t a result of something I did wrong. Sometimes they’re even pretty to me.

If you’re worried about your boobs, rejoice. You’re not a freak. Maybe you just didn’t know that there are others out there just like you.

*[Excellent except for a faulty conclusion that processed foods and supersize portions cause “obesity.”]


  1. If you haven’t already, you should check out the Normal Breast Gallery:

    Comment by Miriam Heddy — July 12, 2008 @ 12:22 am

  2. Thanks! Will do.

    [ETA: Just did. Great site! I’m glad you linked it.]

    Comment by worthyourweight — July 12, 2008 @ 1:41 am

  3. I’ve got big breasts and I’ve always thought they were awful and saggy and gross. Until my partner embarked on what has been a 6 year relationship of breast worship – he is truly determined to change my attitude towards them and to an extent I have. They bring me pleasure and they’re not the awful saggy things I thought they were – they’re just boobs.
    The Human Variation project is good too :)

    Comment by Virago — July 12, 2008 @ 3:22 am

  4. *grin* I haven’t turned twenty yet and my boobs sag. Or rather, because they have an abundance of skin, change shape dramatically depending on the direction of gravity at the time and move around a lot. They aren’t huge, but sports bras are necessary things if I expect to be running.

    Comment by Froth — July 12, 2008 @ 5:04 am

  5. Okay, this is probably going to sound weird to you, but I’m going to tell you something that helped me along on my body acceptance quest. I once asked my husband to find me a picture of a woman whom he thought I looked like. (This was because I always suspected he saw me as smaller than I saw myself, and the only way to get it straight in my head what HE saw was for him to show me an example.) For some reason, he assumed I meant a naked body, so he found a BBW porn site and snagged one of the pictures off of there. The weird thing was, she did look a lot like me. Saggy belly, pendulous breasts, the whole lot. (I strongly suspect that, like me, the woman was a mother.) Not only did it help me get it straight in my head that he really did see me as I was (and still LIKED what he saw!!!), but the realization that other people want to see a body like mine helped a lot. Of course, I still realize that to the majority of society, I’m still an aberration, but knowing that there ARE people out there that look at me and see not only a normal body, but a desirable one? It helps.

    But it wasn’t until Hubby showed me that picture that I was able to let it sink and and believe that there are other people out there that look like me and I’m NOT a freak.

    (I do realize some people would be very uncomfortable looking at porn, but it worked for me. :) )

    Comment by nuckingfutz — July 12, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  6. I’m not fat, but I still have large breasts (G-cups, to be exact). They’re very full and not especially perky, with some stretch marking on the tops and sides. I remember being in college and having a date tell me that he generally didn’t like large-breasted women because large breasts=fat. Sigh. I’ve had these since I was a teenager, and even in the massive crash diets that had me in junior size 3 at 18, the breasts remained. I don’t know why that surprised me. My mom has them, her mom had them, her mom’s mom had them. If I ever give birth to a daughter, chances are very good that she’ll have them.

    Three things have helped me accept my large breasts and not feel like such a mutant. One- I married a man who thinks they’re amazing and has spent the last six years trying to convince me. Two- I got properly fitted for bras and found online stores where I can buy lingerie that actually fits me and is both pretty and functional. This helps a lot considering that there are no brick and mortar stores in the USA where I can shop off the rack. It also helps because instead of seeing my breasts pressed into place by ill-fitting bras that look like hospital issues, I can see my breasts seated in pretty, well-fitting things that make them look like larger versions of the Victoria’s secret catalog highlights. Three- I turned 30. That kind of erased any lingering “how do I compete with the 20 year old pr0n star” stuff. I can’t. I don’t have to. I’m in a different place in my life, with a man who appreciates that, and I wouldn’t go back for anything.

    Comment by i_geek — July 12, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  7. Your comments are so wonderful! Thank you. Really great support ;)

    Comment by worthyourweight — July 12, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

  8. Lots of pictures of real boobs here, too. The site focuses more on breast feeding and breasts as functional, rather than sexual, parts of our bodies. It’s pretty cool.

    Comment by Deeleigh — July 12, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  9. Heh, story about that picture: I was at a restaurant with some family that had a bunch of old pictures of movie stars on the wall. My uncle started talking about how much my (slim, small breasted, beautiful) sister looks like Grace Kelly. Everyone agreed. I guess my dad might have thought I was a little jealous, so he showed me that picture.

    I definately think porn influences how women see their breasts. When we only see other naked breasts in porn, and 90% of those are fake, we get a really distorted image of what breasts are supposed to look like.

    I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with mine. I always liked that they’re big (despite the difficulty in finding clothes and bras) but hated that they’re saggy. One thing that helped me realise they weren’t freakish is when my (thin, modestly-racked) friend was ranting about the unrealistically perky breasts on mannekins: “Boobs sag! It’s called gravity!” Realising that her small boobs sagged too helped me realise that boobs just do that. I decided: “It’s called gravity!” would be my response to anyone who asked me why my boobs are saggy, but I’ve actually avoided the need for that by not disrobing in front of assholes.

    Comment by Becky — July 12, 2008 @ 2:09 pm

  10. While I’ve been fat to one degree or another starting with onset of puberty, I’ve always been quite fond of my killer rack. They ride low on my chest, and that means I always need a bra. But recently I saw a very slender woman with a very modest bust, and hers rode low, too. I realized then it’s just the way I was drawn. :)

    Comment by Kristie — July 12, 2008 @ 4:44 pm

  11. […] Breast image [image] My relationship with my breasts — how I feel about them, how I view them — is inextricably tied to […] […]

    Pingback by Top Posts « WordPress.com — July 12, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  12. Your stories and comments are really a big help. I know I appreciate them, and I hope any other women with similar breast issues do, too.

    Becky, that pic cracks me up! Sophia Loren’s expression and Jayne Mansfield just enjoying herself.

    Comment by worthyourweight — July 12, 2008 @ 11:58 pm

  13. i found your blog through BFD and Shapely Prose….

    this is a great post and you’ve “vocalized” what i’ve felt on many an occasion….especially getting intimate with someone for the first time….

    i still struggle with it….but am coming to terms with my non-porn-star boobiage….


    Comment by DiosaNegra1967 — July 14, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  14. Welcome! I’m with you on this one — still struggling but also coming to terms.

    Not to be mean either, but I don’t find pr0n boobs all that great ;)

    Comment by worthyourweight — July 14, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  15. Wow! I try to diet my boobs better, as well. I thought I was alone in this. Here’s my logic: loosing weight will make them smaller, perkier, and perhaps even shrink my nipples to at least mimic the look of a girl with a sized breasts who got d sized implants.

    In the end, my yo yo dieting has just made a complete mess of them altogether. They’ve lost all elasticity, and you know what? Who cares.

    Comment by Cass — August 17, 2008 @ 7:30 am

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