Forgive me if this post violates the family-friendly atmosphere I try to maintain here at Momniscient, but I just had to make some comments about boobs. The issue of big breasts hit me (almost literally) the other day as I was standing in the hallway of my high school watching the students walk to class. Some of the breasts of the teenage girls who walked past me were huge! And the girls were doing everything they could to make sure everyone saw how huge they were.
At my job, I have to avert my eyes regularly to avoid looking directly at the cleavage that I am confronted with on a daily basis. The girls cram their "girls" into the tightest, thinnest shirts with the lowest V-necks they can find. Then they bounce down the hall with the attitude that as long as their nipples are hidden they are well within the bounds of the school dress code.
The reason I bring this up is that I realized how strange it is that exposed cleavage is perfectly acceptable in our society (not to mention the halls of our high schools). Why is it OK to expose nearly the entire breast as long as the nipple is out of sight? "Conservative" strip clubs allow women to go topless only if they wear tiny stickers on their nipples. Why is the nipple crossing the line of decency while the entire rest of the boob can be openly flaunted?
And yet, mothers who breastfeed in public are often made to feel as if they are deviants. In other words, a woman can expose her breasts in public all she wants as long as there's not a baby attached to it. Don't get me started!
The reason I bring all this up is that I wonder what messages we're sending our kids about decency and sexuality. I'm thinking of both girls and boys. For girls, they are hearing the message loud and clear that if they don't have big breasts they are somehow inadequate. They must go to great lengths, including surgery, to make sure their breasts can compete with their peers. A girl's breasts are no longer her own; they are a commodity designed to attract the opposite sex. A girl's breasts are essentially a billboard advertising her desire to be noticed.
For boys, they are learning that breasts are merely a sexual organ, something to to lust after and gain possession of. Boys are being taught to see women as a set of individual body parts designed solely for male pleasure. No longer is the breast a symbol of femininity and reproduction. It is all about sex and nothing more.
It all makes me very angry and ashamed at our society. Boobs are everywhere on TV and movies. They are used to sell products, and they are used to sell women (actresses, models, etc.). I can only hope that I can reach my kids before they get too tainted by the media messages they are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Well before my daughter hits puberty I will be talking to her about the messages our society sends about body image. I'll be reading books with her such as The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women and Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood that will hopefully give her some insight into this sad reality and allow her to rise above the media hype.
As for my son, there's the book Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys. But I think I will leave most of the preaching to my husband, who has a good perspective on the sexualization of women in our society.
As I've said before, I could try to shelter them from the negative media hype, but I think that's just impossible. They have to be able to live in society. We just have to teach them how to make the right choices in this complicated world.