Putting the TMI back in Tuesday
Well, at least the T.
Some of you are probably wondering why I don’t call it TMI Tuesday anymore. Well, there are a couple of reasons. One is because I discovered there is an actual TMI Tuesday blog somewhere with weekly memes for people to post on their own blogs. A bigger reason is because, as I work on upgrading my website and blog, I’m trying to make the transition from blogging for my friends to blogging for a wider readership. But mostly it’s because I seem to be falling into a weekly blog pattern, and if I’m only blogging one day a week, I don’t want my whole blog to be TMI!
But just to prove I haven’t lost my heart for it all, today I’m blogging about breasts.
Last week, I told you a bit about Isabel, the heroine of A Lady of Persuasion, and I mentioned that she’s self-conscious about her body. Well, a lot of her self-conscious stems from her breasts, which she thinks are too large and indecent and just magnets for unwelcome attention. She’s a very modest, moral person, and she feels trapped in a figure that embodies sensuality and excess.
I took a lot of inspiration for this part of her character from my own adolescence – and now those of you who’ve met me are going to be saying to yourselves, “Um, Tessa, hate to break it to you – but they’re not that big. Nothing special, sweetie.” I know, I know. I’m certainly not as endowed as I imagine Isabel to be, but when I was a teenager, I was extremely self-conscious about my figure. Because most of those kinds of emotions aren’t particularly rational or rooted in fact. All it took was one skeevy guy on the street muttering “nice rack” to make me hide under baggy clothes for months. Now, of course, after giving birth twice and nursing two kids, I’d probably chase after that guy and thank him…but it was a difficult thing for me to learn to handle, this notion that men would look at my body and occasionally comment on it. Because I knew it meant even more guys were looking at my body and thinking things they weren’t rude enough to say aloud. And although I know this now to be just typically male behavior, when I was younger it somehow felt like a judgment on me as a person. Why didn’t some skeevy guy on the street mutter “nice personality”?
I don’t know, there were a lot of intense emotions stuffed in my bra throughout my teenage and young adult years. I think that’s why I was so determined to nurse my babies–I was bound and determined to get some use out of these things, after carrying them around half my life! And conveniently enough, that was the experience that finally cured me of any self-consciousness about them.
And I’m sure I was not alone, right? Breasts seem to be one of those “grass-is-always-greener” things. Women wish theirs were bigger, or smaller, or perkier, or whathaveyou. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (look, I even did research!) there were almost 350,000 breast augmentations done in 2007, up 6% from the year before, and breast reductions, while less frequent, are also growing in popularity. I don’t have any positions, pro or con, on the surgery – just that, if given the chance to change something about our bodies, a lot of women seem to opt for breasts.
Why are they such a big deal?
I have my own theories. I guess in my own experience, I’m inclined to think it’s because of this constant “sizing up” that goes on–perfect strangers looking you in the chest and giving the mental (or sometimes verbal) thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Becoming aware of it was really shocking for me, and then it took me years to just get over it and stop letting other people make me feel uncomfortable about my body. Also, breasts are a very sexualized body part and their function is tied to motherhood, so sex + mothering = lots of strong emotions.
But I’m sure there are as many answers to that question as there are women.
What do you think? Not just about breasts, necessarily, but body image in general. Is your relationship with your body love, hate, or some combination thereof? Has it changed through different phases of your life? Are you going to identify with Isabel?
In other news, my friend Maria Zannini has her first book releasing today, with Samhain Publishing! It’s a futuristic fantasy romance called Touch of Fire – I’ve read it, and I can tell you it’s sexy, funny, exciting, and awesome. Maria is a wonderful storyteller. And look at the fabulous cover! You can read more about it and an excerpt here.
I’ll pick one commenter at random to send a Samhain gift certificate for Touch of Fire. Enter by midnight Wednesday.