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In which I show you my boobs. For the good of society.

December 2, 2011

A few weeks ago, I was sitting around a warm kitchen table with two of my best friends when one of them (I’ll call her Jane) mentioned wanting a boob job someday. She has lamented her breasts to me on more than one occasion, seeming to believe they were the only ones like hers in the world. I told her time and again, I see lots of boobs every day and I’ve seen lots like hers. But I don’t think she believed me. So on this occasion, our other friend said, “Show them to us.” Jane hesitated, but complied. And they were just as she described them. And they were normal. And they were beautiful.

And then our other friend lifted her shirt. And pretty soon we were all doing it. And then we took a photo. A group boob photo. You know. How you do.

Turns out, it’s very hard to take a group boob shot and get all the boobs in at once.

And it was empowering. So much.

It reminded me of one of my very favorite SOAM entries from way back in 2006. A group of moms who’d met through a playgroup and then become very close all got together and posed for a topless group photo. At the time I was a little jealous, and also a little relieved. I loved the sisterhood, the diversity, the love among all those women with different body types. I was a little nervous about stripping in front of friends.

Despite my claims that my friend’s boobs were well within the spectrum of normal and therefore beautiful, she was having a hard time accepting it. She doesn’t get online as much as I do, so I grabbed my phone and opened up my TIAW board on Pinterest and showed it to her. (Can I just say thank goodness for the interwebz? Srsly.) Interestingly, she picked out the thumbnail of this image, too small on my phone to read the text. Pointing to the bottom image she said, “See? THAT is beautiful!” I pulled up the full sized pin for her:


I don’t know how deeply it settled into her mind and into her heart, but I do believe it made an impression. There is beauty in every body.

If my friend chooses to get a boob job, I will still love and respect her exactly the same as I do now. But my years working on SOAM, and my years spent working on learning to love myself both inside and outside have taught me that it really is possible to learn to love even unconventionally beautiful parts of our bodies. Furthermore, my theory is that cosmetic surgery is a band-aid, not treating the root of the problem. I wonder what, beyond her boobs, she would focus her self-abuse on? Another body part? An emotional aspect? A facet of her personality? Based on the work I have done in my own life, both in self-love, and in health issues, I find that treating the root of the problem tends to be the most wholly healing solution. Learning to truly and deeply love yourself, tends to result in, well, self-love. And the discovery of your beauty comes with that.

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16 Responses to “In which I show you my boobs. For the good of society.”

  1. Colleen Says:
    December 2nd, 2011 at 11:19 am

    When you first started TIAW, and submissions were slow to come, I decided I wanted to help and the post I wrote was about my relationship with my breasts. I ended up submitting the one about my cesarean scar instead, but the boob entry is still saved on my computer, hmm.

    Also, all three of you have some pretty amazing breasts. Just sayin’ :)

  2. Claire Says:
    December 2nd, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Another beautiful piece of writing. The thing about finding the root of the problem to treat though is that we bury the roots SO deeply. Often we need to make repeated attempts and mistakes and messes to get even close. And that is tiring. And can be expensive in more ways than one. Trying to remember that the wheel keeps turning and we continue to get another chance each time it goes around.

  3. mina Says:
    December 2nd, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Love this post. I’ve actually heard a theory (I can’t remember where) that since PE isn’t the same as it used to be…and we aren’t as often in locker rooms on a regular basis around “group nudity” as often as generations past…that there is a skewed sense of what normal bodies look like (mix that with photoshopped magazine pages and other exacerbating factors of course), that many of us just really don’t know what’s normal. Kudos to you for taking it upon yourselves to help your friend!!

  4. BESS Says:
    December 2nd, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    So why is it we are ashamed of them? I understand that question is as mulit-layered as an onion and comes with almost as many reasons as there are stars.

    I never looked at my body in any way other than it just was; until a partner starting commenting on me needing a boob job. Then, sadly, I started wondering if I did. After three babies, and seven years of breastfeeding and watching my boobs go from a size B to a DD, back to a C, then all the way down to a saggy A-B, I thought, “OK–that’s what I want, too.” Our breasts define us in very confusing ways. They are powerful no matter what size. Some days I am sad about my choice, other days, it really doesn’t matter to me at all, and other days, I am happy for the choice I made, because I feel confident–my breasts do make me feel powerful. I worry about what will happen when they “wear out”, but now, I feel secure enough in myself, that if I eventually give them up, have them removed, I will be ok having an A-B boobs again.

    My suggestion to all women is go to the gym! It does a few things for us: makes us feel good and strong, allows us to see other bodies, and then in the showers, allows us to see our perfect imperfections!

  5. Kelly O'Sullivan Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Beautiful…because we all are. There is no ideal. There is no normal. Average is just one point on a curve with all other points being equally valid.

  6. Bonnie (TIAW) Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I love that, Kelly.

  7. Maeryn Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    My breasts are 32 F (in private bra stores) and 36 DD (in mainsteam stores). My husband thought my breasts looked a bit strange…The nipple is not formed properly. But I know that it will change after I have kids. I was confident enough to show him a website full of different boobs to show the diversity (it was not a porn site). He now has no problem with my boobs. 😀

  8. Tracey Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    @Bess I couldn’t have said it better myself :)

  9. Kellie Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    My sister and I did boob, belly and butt photos like these last time we were together. We could not get over how identical they were! There are 13 years between us.

  10. Lulu Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Great article, it made me laugh, and made me think.
    Why is it that women define themselves by their boobs? Maybe because society/media/partners do? How many times have we seen pics of celebrities “bouncing back” after babies, not a stretch mark or saggy boob in sight? We can remind ourselves a million times that they have personal trainers, dieticians and plastic surgeons at their beck and call but it still gives us an image we can’t help but compare to our own.
    I see a lot of boobs in my line of work too and you’re right, they are all different, and all beautiful. I have nursed women who have gone through masectomies and every time I start pondering my boobs, I remind myself how lucky I am to have them!

  11. Brandi Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    i love my boobs now that i’ve had breast reduction. they were 38ii.

  12. Jil O'Brien Says:
    December 5th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    What a great post. My self-image has always been heavily associated with my physical looks. Becoming a Mum has changed all that. Giving birth made me appreciate what an amazing feat of engineering a woman’s body is. My boobs give me the means to nourish my baby, that’s their purpose and so they fill it perfectly and beautifully. 😀

  13. Lori Says:
    December 7th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    so which one is you? lol.
    I couldn’t imagine doing this with my friends or even my sisters, but I am glad you did!

  14. Bonnie (TIAW) Says:
    December 8th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I’m on the right.

  15. Tony Says:
    January 11th, 2012 at 9:25 am

    You all look amazing and real! Bravo…

  16. Suzanne Says:
    November 13th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you for this post!!
    It is rarely understood that criticizing a smaller body is just as offensive as criticizing a larger body.
    So thank you, really! :)

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