First published on Sunday the 12th of May, 2019, this piece comes in at number 8 in the top 30 most read Villainesse stories of 2019.
Yes, that’s right. Please stop. You’re making women feel uncomfortable about a body part that is no different from any other. Women with boobs should be able to comfortably wear v-necks and bikinis and fitted shirts and whatever the hell they want to wear. Unsolicited comments about another person’s body are inappropriate. We know that (hopefully). And yet, women with large breasts put up with uncomfortable comments and stares every day.
Boobs are just bits of fat that sit on our chests. In the words of a friend, “they’re just weird jiggly sacks of flesh that I carry around with me.” But no other body part is so constantly sexualised. Facebook still won’t allow female nipples, even though they’re exactly the same as men’s with a bit more fat beneath them. Schools are still stopping young women from wearing perfectly normal clothing because their breasts fill out tops more than their peers. Everyone has a different body shape. So why do we blindly accept that wearing normal clothing with large breasts should be treated as some kind of sexual display?
Recently, I interviewed five women about their experiences growing up with large breasts. The focus of the interview was on breast reduction surgery, but it quickly became clear that the problem went beyond spinal problems and expensive bras. There’s a societal issue with the way that we sexualise large breasts.
The women who underwent the breast reduction surgery noted that afterwards, they received comments from men like “I couldn’t look you in the eye before.” That is not the fault of someone who has large breasts. That’s the fault of a man who cannot control himself.
But the problem was not limited to men. Women also made comments. Even after hearing about the pain and awkwardness of growing up with large boobs, they said things like “I wish I had your boobs” and acted envious around the women. They also made entirely unsolicited comments like “your boobs look so big in that.” Even if we think we’re paying someone a compliment by saying those things, it crosses a line. Commenting on someone else’s body, without anyone asking for your opinion, is not okay.
The result of these comments? Women change the way that they dress to hide their boobs. The comments were seemingly inevitable. Whether women love or hate their boobs, unsolicited comments from others forced them to hide their bodies behind layers of fabric and carefully-chosen clothes. Entering a social space without fear of comments became really difficult. And the burden shifted to the women to cover up their bodies, or else expect rude comments and stares. Even though the size of our boobs is not a choice and how others react to our bodies should not be our responsibility.
Social judgments are made based on what women wear. Wearing a low-cut or tight top is fraught for women with big boobs. People assume that it means “I have intentionally displayed my boobs by wearing this top,” rather than “I have big boobs and here they are (because I can’t detach them and leave them at home) in this top that I like”. There’s a serious difference.
Breasts are not inherently sexual. They’re a body part, so they can be sexual, but they can also kill you, screw up your spinal column, and serve an important function in motherhood. Women with big boobs should be able to live their lives, like the normal people that they are, without constant objectification because of a body part they cannot control.Support Villainesse