By Scarlette Quille
Reader Humor Columnist
Today, I am going to take a moment to discuss something that is on everyone’s mind: breasts. Breasts are the most controversial part on a human body. Are they too big? Are they too small? Do they show too much? Are they imperfect? Do I need to buy myself new breasts? If a woman’s breasts are too small she isn’t as attractive; if they are too big, she is a distraction. When your breasts change with growing older and having children, we fight those changes with surgery and push-up bras.
Breasts are tied into our identity as women, and we are constantly being sent the message that something is wrong with our bodies, specifically our breasts.
I have owned my own set of breasts. We have been through a lot together. I waited for their arrival nervously, wondering what kind of hand I was going to be dealt. My breasts grew in fairly slowly, not reaching their full potential until college. I had more than enough for a person my size. This has created uncomfortable issues when I haven’t been able to properly conceal them in certain arenas. I have been “warned” by concerned co-workers at more than one job that my cleavage was visible when I performed certain tasks such as bending over. You know, just in case someone could see that I have breasts. I notice that larger women, or flat chested co-worker’s cleavage became visible in the same activities, yet they were not getting reprimanded. I have found myself apologizing and worrying about what I would wear and what message I was sending with my clothing. In reality, my clothing wasn’t revealing any secret. I have big boobs. It’s part of my body. I’m not sure why I have to be penalized for it.
I have found myself defending my clothing choices, as though I did something wrong by just getting dressed in the morning. As a woman with a petite frame and large chest, the line between dressing slutty or frumpy is non-existent. It’s always been annoying to me, but now that my daughters are teenagers, I have a front-row seat to just how confusing and degrading it can be to have a set of breasts.
“Mom is this shirt inappropriate?” I hate the question, and I hate looking at my child and trying to figure out whether or not her outfit will inadvertently arouse or offend someone. As a society, why are we hyper-focused on controlling the way females dress? I am asking because I do not have an answer, and as a mother to three girls, I need one. I need to be able to tell my child why her shirt is “inappropriate,” not the boy looking down it. Why do I need to explain to her that seeing her cleavage is not just a distraction to her male peers, but also to grown men: coaches, teachers, et. al. My child is no longer seen as a child once she develops breasts, whether it happens in fifth grade or 10th grade. She is responsible for breast management, and keeping them covered and strapped down so that no one gets the wrong idea.
I need to explain to my child that the way she dresses is somehow correlated to sex. Is this a conversation we’d be having with a kid who still plays with dolls? Why is our daughters’ safety related to how she is dressed?
Congratulations, honey, you are a woman now, and you will be judged on how you dress for the rest of your life. If you are attacked, the guilt of your attacker will be measured in an equation involving what kind of message your clothing sent.
I’m over it.
Why aren’t we taking all this energy and focusing it on teaching our sons that no matter how someone is dressed, sex is not an option unless you have verbal consent from a conscious adult? The erection that you got in class, while daydreaming about your 45-year-old English teacher, wasn’t her fault. No matter how you try to convince yourself, her lecture on Walt Whitman was not intentionally erotic. Let’s face it, teenage boys are walking erections. I have been told by men on several occasions that as a teenager a strong wind could give them an erection.
No one is calling the wind a slut. Adolescent males get erections for many reasons, not all of them sexual. Adolescent females grow breasts long before they are ready for sex. Let’s stop trying to pretend this shit isn’t normal, and that we can stop it from happening. Dress codes are not stopping erections or teenagers from being interested in sex. This is painfully obvious to me. As a woman, we all eventually learn the lesson that even when dress codes are strictly enforced, there is a possibility of inadvertent skin exposure due to a clothing malfunction or weight gain or loss. There will be times when you leave the house believing that you dressed impeccably only to find out that your pants were see-through in the sunlight. There will be people, both male and female, waiting for these opportunities to get a better look at the goods. Then, after they have a confirmation that yes, those lumps under her shirt are breasts, they will use this sighting as an excuse to sexualize, judge and shame you. The dress code doesn’t protect us against that.
I can guarantee that there is no clothing choice that ensures safety from a sexual predators.
I’m ready to start assigning blame where it is due. Boob control doesn’t stop the bad guys from illegally getting access to them.
Something to think about the next time you surprisingly see breasts on a female.
Grateful for the pair I have,