My Breasts, My Body, My Business

I read an article posted by percolately today about how Kaley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory was shamed by some Twitter followers because her nipples were visible through a sports bra she wore in a photo she posted to her Twitter account, @normancook. The point of the picture was to show that despite having recent shoulder surgery and being required to wear a sling, she was back in the gym and getting back to life as usual. To which I say, kudos. Few have the wherewithal to get back to it that quickly. The fact that her nipples were visible through her top shouldn’t have even been an issue.

I find it infuriating how breasts are objectified, both in person and on social media and in the plain, old-fashioned media. I have heard, “You have great tits,” or the like more often than I can count and have had more conversations with men’s foreheads, their eyes ogling my chest instead of their ears listening to my words, than I care to remember. I’ve broken up with men who stared and talked about my breasts more than they asked how my day was.

Everywhere, I see shaming of small breasts, large breasts, uneven breasts, breastfeeding, nipples showing, too much cleavage, not enough cleavage, altered breasts, unaltered breasts … and I have one important thing to ask about this: how are breasts anyone’s business  but that of the woman they belong to?

How are breasts anyone’s business  but that of the woman they belong to?

My breasts have been a cause of shame for me more than once. As a child, my breasts developed early, and were quite large by the time I was in high school. I heard comments and was embarrassed and wore reduction bras. After I breastfed my children, my breasts weren’t as “perky” as they’d been before and I read articles about how unattractive this was, and again I was ashamed of my breasts, even though it was no one’s business but my own.

In the three years since my divorce, I’ve dated casually and at times have experienced such objectification with regards my breasts that I now constantly think about whether or not too much cleavage is showing when I dress for dinner, a date, work, or just grocery shopping. My breasts have been stared at by and received comments from dates, coworkers, and virtual strangers.

I’ve felt it necessary to hide my breasts on occasions, and, I’ll admit, I’ve even flaunted them, both for the sake of others. But I shouldn’t have to make these decisions for anyone but myself. I shouldn’t hide because I’m ashamed or flaunt because I know people will be looking anyway. I should be able to flaunt my breasts because I feel beautiful and then hide them when I feel private, and not have to explain my reasoning to anyone. It is about what I think of me, not what anyone else does.

I read an article on Rebel Circus last week about Jess Felder’s photo series “Project: Self Love,” about the body shaming women experience on a daily basis. The women were instructed to write something “said to them in their lives about their bodies that impacted their self-confidence negatively” on a sign and then to write “something they know to be true of themselves that has nothing to do with physicality,” on another. Felder then took a picture of each woman with each of her signs. The result is beautiful and inspiring.

One woman’s body-shaming sign says, “You would look prettier if you lost weight.” While her something true sign says, “I am compassionate.” Another says, “Haha, your BOOBS are so uneven,” and then, “I am strong.”

Several of the things said that affected “self-confidence negatively” were about the women’s breasts, and I was reminded of my own experience. And I’d been shamed over my self-doubt just the night before and was looking for a way to shake off the shame hangover, so I made my own signs:

“You have great tits.”

I don’t give up.

Doing this lifted my spirits, and it reminded me that my body is mine. I recommend trying it. Take back your body. Don’t let anyone shame you, be it about your weight or your breasts or your height or any part of you. Your breasts, your body belong to you, and you are beautiful.

 

Find the original Kaley Cuoco article from percolately here.

If you’d like to check out Rebel Circus article about Jess Felder’s photo series, here it is.

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