The thing about writing for a website like feminaust is that it begins to invade all aspects of your life. I seem to leave the house merely to drum up stories and links. Hence I found myself slightly drunk at a Very Grown Up Dinner Party thinking up the title for this post. And then thinking about the number of different words we have for boobs. Breasts. Bosoms. Ta-tas. Bongos. At which point everyone started staring at me a little oddly, suggesting I had fallen into silence whilst staring distractedly at the wall, an unfortunately regular experience.
At this dinner party, a mate of mine (let’s call her Ms. Coco – she’s very stylish so I’m naming her after Chanel) called me out on Friday night for a column I wrote a while ago that included a comment about big boobs being awesome. I am somewhat boobacular my self, being a chunky gal; as the owner of a smaller set herself, my mate wanted to alert me to the continuing sense of inadequacy that smaller women can feel (or at least I think so – by this point I’d drunk about a litre of vodka and red fizzy drink, and eaten twenty five pieces of fairy bread. Sugar high doesn’t even begin to describe it). I was a bit taken aback by it because Coco is a seriously stylish and gorgeous blond who can cook the best roast chicken this side of my grandma and is well on her way to having basically all of the university degrees currently available. I know its silly, but Ms. Coco is among the last people I would think would be insecure about, well, really anything.
ANYWAY that’s not the bit I want to write a Panther Response about; I want to write about my natural response to Ms. Coco’s comment, which was to reassure her that men mostly care about getting to touch a boob, rather than the size of that boob. Which is a pretty socially acceptable answer among women; almost to the point that it’s expected I think. “I know you’re insecure, but don’t worry about your small boobs/big bum/pimples there’s still a bloke out there who’ll want to get into your knickers and have crazy monkey sex with you”.
At that point the cake came out and we left aside the discussion of our boobs as we all got distracted by our descent into a serious diabetic coma. But the conversation stayed with me, because is struck me that my instinctual reaction to Ms. Coco basically amounted to “yes, you are deformed, but its ok because some people have fetishes”. Sorry, what? How the hell did we get here?
First of all, such a comment in fact suggests that I agree that Ms. Coco ought to be insecure about the size of her bosom; I’m not simply agreeing with the assessment that they are small (which is a simple reflection of reality) but with the logic that leads from “they are small and that is bad. Ms. Coco, you should be concerned about this”. My attempt to reassure in fact emphasizes the anxiety Ms. Coco expressed.
Second of all, my comment also suggests that any anxiety about her worth can be addressed by finding a bloke to fondle her breasts. Now I’m not saying that it’s not fabulous when someone finds you attractive. Feels pretty good, can put a little kick-arse in your step. But seeking out that reaction from others in order to address a sense of inferiority is rarely a great approach, and it certainly doesn’t address the problem. At least, in my personal experience, it tends to reinforce the sense that I am inferior in some way, as if this person is attracted to me in spite of my deformity; I’ve occasionally found myself slavishly thankful that someone has deigned to see me naked in my flabby glory. So I also basically said to Ms. Coco “its ok, I’m sure if you try hard enough you can find someone bored enough to let you play with his wiener.”. Which, incidentally, buys into the retarded argument that all men are always up for sex and all women have to do is sneeze and five blokes will turn up pre-unzippered. Which is insulting to both sexes, really.
So my attempt to reassure Ms. Coco confirmed that she was deformed; it encouraged her to seek approval in the eyes of others as a balm to that deformity, and be grateful to anyone who would indulge in that with her; and it missed the chance to say what I actually meant, which was:
“Ms. Coco, You are intelligent, drily hilarious, loyal, loving and with a sense of style that often makes me think of your clothes as art rather than fashion. You also have the best taste in music I have ever come across.”
So that’s it. No exhortation to love your body, or to embrace your small boobs. Insecurities are part of being human, and insecurities about our bodies seem to be a central part of being a woman. But when I think of you Ms Coco, those things you are insecure about don’t really even occur to me. Boobs smoobs, I just think your awesome.
Now may I have more red fizzy drink and vodka please?
Image taken from Flickr user Michael Lehet under the Creative Commons License