In my early teens I often borrowed special editions of Cosmo and Dolly magazines from the local library. Once or twice a year the magazines would include features on ‘real bodies’, and greedily I would flip straight to the sealed sections to find the greatest range of breasts you’ve ever seen.
‘There’s my nipples!’ I always exclaimed, scanning the plethora of bosoms for a pair that were plump yet pointy; I felt less alone in my plight as owner of two irregular bangers. Although I’ve now dropped the habit of reading glossies, a sneaky browse through their pages in a GP’s waiting room yields the same sense of glee. After a journey of self-love and a big spoonful of reality, I haven’t quite shaken the alienation of having an ‘imperfect’ body.
Big boobs are everywhere. Ads on billboards and in magazines grab attention with lovely lady lumps, simultaneously entrenching the idea that if you’re not sexy, you’re worthless. And voluminous tits are seen as the epitome of female sexuality. Perfectly round, buoyant, airbrushed, pushed-up, fleshly, flawless breasts signify desirability. The lack of realism concerning female bodies in films, advertisements, fashion editorials and soft-core porn is outrageous.
Years ago, I scored a free pass to Good Luck Chuck. In the film, any woman who has sex with Dane Cook is magically ordained the power to find her Mr Right, so a succession of babes line up for a good ravishing because they’re all desperate to get married. Beyond the insulting ‘men want sex/women want commitment’ dichotomy, my nausea built with every gratuitous derobing of identical female bodies. Over and over, thin waists were coupled with perfectly round, stretch mark-free gazongas. Every woman was a carbon copy of a Barbie doll.
‘What am I, then?’ I remember thinking, humiliated at the gap between my breasts and that of the simpering sex-robots. It was enough to make me vom into my A-cups.
Blatant refusal to include the full spectrum of jubblies is a common habit of Hollywood. But this culture occurs in the independent film industry, too.
Cashback is a 2006 British film where protagonist Ben can stop time, and does so frequently at the late night supermarket where he works in order to undress shoppers and sketch their ladyberries. Ignoring the creepiness of this fantasy, Cashback presents the tender reverence an artist has towards the female form. But any concept of virtuous adoration of women is weakened by the recurrence of one body shape – slender with substantial breasts. Every time-frozen woman is a shop mannequin.
Perhaps the director forgot what people at the supermarket really look like. When I go, I see mothers with baby weight, grandmothers with saggy baps and people in daggy pyjamas (me), as well as the young and beautiful.
Do casting agents believe any woman in front of the camera should look like a topless model? Or are the only people confident enough to audition for nude scenes ones with marvellous bazookas? Either way, our media shows a huge skew towards one body shape, and as the purveyor of two humble yet delightful breasts, this can be disheartening.
It’s said that in more modest times, a glimpse of a lady’s fine ankles could send a civilised gentleman into a frenzy. Today, the purest expression of a female’s sexuality is her boobies. Tradies sing out the traditional ‘Show us yer tits!’ to attractive pedestrians; teenagers emerging from puberty take high angle ‘selfies’ to allow ample view of cleavage; and women going to a pub will ‘get the girls out’ to signify that they are on the prowl. ‘Flat-chested’ is one of the worst insults dealt out to a woman – it practically renders her sexless. If you want to be a sex goddess, big tits are non-negotiable.
For years, I felt less sexy because my beloved chesticles were not the type to strain at the material of my dress, threatening to burst forth, undeniable. Rather, my beloved plums lay dormant beneath folds of fabric, making me feel about as lusty as a librarian with whooping cough.
While my body dissatisfaction cannot all be lumped on the media’s normalisation of impressive jugs, it’s a large piece of the puzzle. To counteract, we must celebrate all bodies, and all shapes of breasts, including the ‘perfect’ ones.
Bring back the classic nude paintings of creamy mistresses with potbellies and east-west pointers! Hooray for languid post-children puppies! Yippee for melons on a gorgeous size-18 body! Huzzah for mangoes above wide hips! And welcome, all ye nipples, be ye brown, pink, bumpy or hairy! Bring it on, I say.
A younger me had the impression that my un-Hooters esque hooters were a curse – I kept expecting them to fulfil the roundness that I supposed I was entitled to. But now I know that my girls can have appeal, to me and others, beyond the hypersexual, pumped-up, Hollywood sexuality. Compliance with the booby myth is only one facet of human desire.
The truth lies in the sealed section of our own lives. Sexy is the unselfconscious laughter when naked in a lover’s bed. Sexy is an electric connection, a smouldering glance across a crowded room. Sexy is self-acceptance (big tits optional).
Lou Heinrich is a stone cold bibliophile who writes about pop culture and women, and celebrates life daily. She tweets here.