My body is heavily breasted. From the first time my step-mother awed at their sudden overwhelming presence they began to shape the way I feel in my body. What surprises me the most I think is the willingness people have to comment on their size– like I don’t know they are there. Trust me, I do. The comments come from everywhere. My grandpa, who is known for inappropriate comments, once told me that if I tripped and fell I wouldn’t hit my face. Another time, that I wouldn’t need a life jacket with my built in flotation devices. At his going away party, an old boss asked, “so, how big are they really? Have you ever weighed them?” At least he waited until he wasn’t my boss. In high school, the first consonant of my last name was sometimes replaced by clever male classmates in order to form a slang term for breasts. At least that way, I was still partially me and not just “jugs.” When females weigh in on the subject, and they do, the comments tend to be less “wow, those things are cool,” and more “I wish I had those!” I normally reply that if I could, I would give them some. I certainly have more than I need. I should also mention that the older I get the more breast envy dissolves into pity. Regardless of who is commenting though, or what they are saying, a lot of the time I respectfully wish they would just shut-up and leave us alone.
My breasts are not good thermostats, at least for the observer. According to my nipples it is always cold. This does not mean that I do not feel a change when I am cold, moved, turned on, etc. For example, listening to Adele sing, I am moved to goosebumps and hard nipples. I had difficulty breast feeding because, for lack of a better description, a baby’s mouth is not big enough. I will spare you the details, but we worked it out. I haven’t quite worked out how to golf though. I cannot figure out how to swing around them. Sometimes they are just in the way. Lets not even mention trying to find sexy bras or maneuvering them into a sports bra.
Iris Marion Young says, “many women identify their breasts as themselves, living their embodied experience at some distance from the hard norms of the magazine gaze” (81). Asking myself if this was true for me, I considered how I would feel where I to no longer have my jugs. The topic of reduction has come up for various health reasons, but it is something I have never really seriously contemplated possibly because the suggestion tends to come from people who are not medical professionals. Also, I feel that any back problems my boobs may cause could potentially be remedied by other, less invasive means (weight loss, yoga, massages, better bras). But more importantly, I don’t know how to be me without them. Sure, maybe I could learn to golf, but I don’t have very good hand-eye coordination anyway.
My breasts have shaped my existence both in the realm of the magazine gaze and away from it, as objects but also part of me as a subject. It is impossible to know how I would feel about them completely absent from the gaze because that reality does not exist. However, they do exist for me outside of this gaze. They emote, they feed, they give me an excuse not to suck at golf. My breasted journey has had its ups and downs, its perky and saggy moments. I struggled for some time to escape my breasts and all of the comments and attention that came with them. Later in life, on a drunken New Years Eve whim I entered a wet t-shirt contest. Surely I won right? We will never know because the end result was me running off stage with the excuse that the water was too cold. Now, well I am not too sure how I feel about them, but they are mine and I wouldn’t be me without them.