Monday, April 22, 2013

Big Boobs and Double Standards

To introduce my thought, I'm going to show an image from Busty Girl Comics.

This pretty perfectly illustrates what I would like to say here about the double standards that come out based on body type. While I could probably write volumes about the issues faces by people who happen to be fat, right now I would specifically like to talk about breast size.

As someone who has a very large chest, I can say with certainty that we face a unique set of challenges. There are practical matters, like how bras with a cup size larger than DD are extremely hard to find, and those that exist are expensive and usually unattractive. Or how clothing can often fit everywhere else but strain at the chest. Or how we have back pain, difficulty with overhead roller coaster restraints, and awkward placement of over-the-shoulder bag straps.

For the most part, those are all things that are annoying but tolerable. What I cannot abide is the double standards issued by other people based solely on build.

So let's take a look at the image above. The two women in it are wearing the exact same shirt, but the one who is significantly bustier is being told she should dress more "appropriately" so she more closely resembles the smaller-chested woman. It seems safe to assume the cartoon is depicting coworkers and a manager. This is likely a setting where excessive skin is not allowed, which is the prerogative of whoever makes the dress code. Neither woman is showing much skin, as the top is relatively modest. The only difference is the size of the one woman's breasts, for which she is being admonished. She is essentially being told that her body is inappropriate and dirty.

The woman is being chastised for something she cannot control. I know, someone will probably try to point out that she could have a breast reduction, but why should she? She really should not have to go through the cost and pain of a major surgery like that unless she really wants to. And while everyone's experience in their body will be different, I can personally say that I would have to be in a lot of physical agony to consider that option.

The message of that response is that women should drastically and dangerously alter themselves to fit into an ideal of "appropriate." Personally, I don't find this suggestion to be appropriate. A pair of breasts under a shirt are not inherently inappropriate; they are just two mounds of fat and tissue that develop naturally in case you want to some day use them to feed offspring. Their sexuality is culturally assigned, which means it can be culturally removed.

The size of someone's chest doesn't indicate how sexual they are (and of course, sexuality does not indicate how smart or capable someone is), nor does fat indicate health or habit. Bodies are just bodies. We live in them and dress them and care for them the best that we can. What needs to drastically alter is the current paradigm of perception and judgment toward bodies.


  1. YES! I get this at work myself. A tall, thin woman with small breasts wears tops that show between her breasts, and nobody says anything. I have an inch of cleavage and the pearls are being clutched like I've turned up in French knickers and fishnets!

  2. On the rare occasion I have fielded this type of comment, I have either asked for the funds for the surgery and recovery time, or have suggested that I would also need counselling for self-mutilation should I have a bust reduction. It either prompts a decent conversation about dress codes, or the person policing my cleavage gets all flustered and (usually) laughed at.

    I'm fascinated by the types of people who do the cleavage policing though. I've never worked out why they get so upset!