Thursday, December 3, 2009

Your breasts do not belong to you

If you'd like breasts that are, say, size 36DD (such as Pamela Anderson, above), you can just pull out a credit card, plunk some cash on a counter, take a deep breath of whatever it is they knock you out with, and voila - you can now get yerself into Juggs magazine or whatever big-boobed fantasy you want. Pamela may not actually have boobs big enough for a rag like that one, so if you want more than she's got (which would not be unreasonable according to our society), you can ask for bigger. Now, on the other hand, if you would like a flat chest and you were born a woman, you need to see a psychiatrist at least three times to determine that you have gender identity disorder. It's not enough to say "I'd prefer to have small breasts or no breasts, thank you very much." No, you have to be a man-trapped-in-a-woman's-body. Otherwise, you are quite obviously crazy.

I was surprised to learn this.

I thought the right to choose was only about abortion. How foolish of me.

I've wanted breast reduction surgery ever since I knew it was possible. I spoke to a doctor about when I was in my 20's and he said I had a bra size that "every woman wants." That was the end of the discussion, especially since he was chuckling out loud at the foolishness of my not seeing how good I had it.

Being skinny helped matters throughout the years, but the only way I can maintain skinniness is by not eating, and that's a strategy that I haven't been able to tolerate for many years now. I like food. Anorexia wasn't very much fun.

But, as usual, I'm getting off track.

I'm appalled by the notion that one has to be analyzed by so-called experts in order to modify one's body to one's own liking. I can understand being alarmed by someone who would like to cut off one of their legs (and there are such people), but given the fact that 1 in 100 women in America elect to enlarge their breasts (yep, that's right) with such freedom (and encouragement, I might add), I see the "fact" that not wanting to be big-breasted (or breasted at all) is considered a pathological state as evidence that womens' breasts are not really ours. They belong to the public sphere. They belong to the tyranny of what heterosexual men deem normal and right. The only "normal" reason for not liking one's boobs is that one is not really a woman. Normal woman want D-cup breasts and if they don't, they should seek therapy.

I know I'm not going to get a lobby group behind this issue. It's not as important as the right to choose to end a pregnancy. But, it does tell me that feminism, while coming a long way, still has a long way to go, and unfortunately, hasn't many people left who are pissed off enough to care to carry any torches.

As to photo of Ms. Anderson, I wonder how many of you think she looks "normal."

Y'know, I may find her "abnormal" looking, but I allow her the right to look any way she wants. I'm sick of the emphasis on normalizing everything and everyone. People also have the right to be "abnormal", strange, eccentric, different, and not like the proverbial girl or boy next door.


jmcleod76 said...

You could've just claimed you were having back pain. Which, I realize, is completely beside the point.

Another thought-provoking post, Julie.

Julie H. Rose said...

"If you've got disproportionately large pendulous breasts that are causing neck pain, back pain or other physical symptoms, you may want to consider a breast reduction." and "It's important that you are completely honest during this consultation. That includes being completely open with your medical history. It also means being very open as to why you're seeking a breast reduction ."

These quotes are typical of what one will read on plastic surgery info sites. So, no, simply complaining of back doesn't work.

Julie H. Rose said...

I left out the word "pain" after the word "back", above.

jmcleod76 said...

"Disproportionately large pendulous breasts ..." Wow.

BitterGrace said...

FWIW, I seem to remember reading somewhere that ol' Pamela got sick of her fake boobies and had them removed. Or at least replaced with smaller ones.

I know a couple of people who have had breast reduction, but I have no idea what kind of hoops they had to jump through to get it. They were both quite overweight, which may have effectively exempted them from the "beauty" standard. The sexism within the medical community is overwhelming, in my experience. I don't think I've felt it as acutely in any other realm of life.

I used to agonize about my small breasts. I felt like a freak, which I guess is how I was supposed to feel. Life has pretty much cured me of that. Whenever I hear any young woman complain that her breasts are weird, I send her here:

Julie H. Rose said...

That's a good link, Maria. Thank you.

I didn't want to muddy up my post with even more info, but I agree with you about the sexism of the medical community. Besides my breasts which had to be drained frequently for years, hurt all the time on account of density (and this was all considered normal), I had chronic ovarian pain for a lifetime but no one would remove my damned ovaries because I was childless.

TMI, I know, but I discovered when I was a tattoo artist and so many folks disclosed so much to me that other women had similar stories which they'd never voiced until I did. Our secrets make us crazy and alone.

And then there's the fact for the last decade women with pain are overdiagnosed w/ fibromyalgia instead of docs looking into what might really be going on, or women who have chest pain and are told they are having an anxiety attack. . .need I go on?

Julie H. Rose said...

And I also wanted to comment that one reason, I think, that women liked "On Our Backs", regardless of sexual orientation, is that it portrayed diversity of body type. Leafing through an issue always made me feel better about myself.

jmcleod76 said...

I debated putting this comment here, for fear of sounding like I was bragging, but with all this talk of women worrying about/disliking their breasts, I just wanted to say that I've always really liked mine. In fact, they're one (or two, I guess) of the very few things I like about my body. That strikes me as a little odd, considering my gender identity is pretty firmly masculine, but I really enjoy my own breasts. I hit puberty quite early, and I remember liking my breasts and feeling proud of them from almost the beginning - once I got past the teasing from my peers, and feeling embarrassed when relatives pointed them out, that is.

(Hmm, I've just unintentionally given another example of how they're public property - everyone from bratty fifth grade boys to elderly aunties feel like they have the right to comment on them, and they teach you that from a very young age).