Boobs! Breasts, taa-taa’s, knockers, jugs. The fabulous man magnets that hang off our chests, the perils of our puberty, the organs of nourishment for our children. Every woman has them, whether they be distractingly huge or embarrassingly small, they define the feminine body and tune us into our bodies when hormones are raging.
I recently embarked on a bit of a health kick, wanting to lose some of the weight I have accumulated since my kids got older and chocolate seemed to always be on special at my local supermarket. I have slugged it out in my gym class, sweated profusely on the spin bike and pounded the pavement with my gigantic dog in tow, only to find that in the last 2 weeks, the only place that seems to have shrunk noticeably is my chest area.
My mammaries are showing the fruits of my labour, by decreasing down to the size of two large apples, rather than two decent sized rockmelons, and I am frustrated to say the least. My backside, thighs and hips remain the same, struggling to fit into my gorgeous black shorts that are perfect for a day at the beach, but the girls are taking it upon themselves to shrink to the point where the purchase of a new bather top is imminent. Why is it that the one area where most women want to keep the bulge is the first to “slim down” when we start to lose weight?
Another mind-boggler about breasts is their innate ability to fascinate men. Whether they are self-proclaimed or closet-kept, all men have an infatuation with breasts. I read somewhere once that this stems from infant memories of breastfeeding, (which frankly just disturbs me) however I am yet to meet a man that does not have an intense appreciation for the soft, protruding pillows of a female’s mammilla. Don’t they realise that these things are generally a pain in the butt? They hurt when you’re pregnant; they hurt when you’re getting your period. They make certain tops look ridiculous, they make running without a sports bra a joke. The left one jiggles when you brush your teeth with your right hand, bra’s are expensive and the pretty ones are always uncomfortable. They are generally never symmetrical and they don’t maintain their original shape, more often than not reducing in size and resembling socks on a washing line by the time you’ve finished having kids. I wonder if a man would love them so much if he got poked in the chin with an underwire that had come astray, or, my pet hate, he had another man grab them like a squeeze toy as he walked past with a load of washing or a plate full of dinner for the 4 yr old? Unlikely, I’m sure!
But I was recently incredibly moved by a portrait of a woman that had had a double mastectomy after battling breast cancer. She had not had reconstructive surgery; instead she had chosen to celebrate what she called her new-found freedom and got her very proud husband to photograph her lying on the couch, topless. She looked beautiful, she looked liberated, but most importantly, she looked healthy. Of course it was unusual to see scars where a woman’s society-defined femininity should be, but she chose to be positive about the situation, rejoicing in the small victory that she could now run and play with her kids and not have to worry about putting on a bra!
So whilst I mourn my insignificant (and probably temporary) loss, I am acutely aware that I also feel thankful. My girls have done a mighty fine job, feeding my children and holding up my strapless dresses. Hell, they’ve even saved me money, getting me out of the odd speeding fine and waiving the entry fee into a few clubs in their hey-day. I know enough about the science of the female form to realise that these changes are inevitable with age and life changes, so I will take it upon myself to rejoice, to appreciate, to celebrate my fabulous knockers, whatever they might shape up to be!!