Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Do breasts maketh the woman?

I haven't blogged in a while as I haven't been inspired to write. However, today I have found a subject I feel is worth touching upon, hence this post. Reading Emma Forrest's article 'Do our breasts maketh the woman?' in February's edition of Elle UK magazine got me thinking - do women conduct themselves according to pre-assumed stereotypes based on body shape?

Forrest argues that women traditionally fit into two categories based on body shape, at least according to Hollywood. There is the "Bad Girl" who flaunts her Marilyn Monroe-esque ample bosom, small waist and overall hourglass frame; she uses these assets to her advantage, mostly where heterosexual males are concerned. Secondly there is the "Good Girl" epitomised by Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and Gwyneth Paltrow; these ladies embody everything that is cool, chic and en vogue. To put it bluntly then, women with big boobs and a traditional hourglass figure are the "sluts", the "seducers", the type of woman men love to bed, but not to marry. Slender women with smaller hips, boobs, and bums are seen as the sort that need protection, meek and mild and delicate like a flower - the antithesis of the "Bad Girl". Forrest was curvaceous in her teens and twenties and played up to the first stereotype that you tend to see in Hollywood films; the curvy girl know's her shape is desirable to men and plays on this fact to get what she wants, but in the end she is left miserable as he takes what he wants from her, then abandons her for someone that better suits the terms "marriage material". In her thirties Forrest's shape changed and no longer did she see herself in the same way; this led to a period of feeling very lost and unsure of who she should be now this change had taken place. Eventually she settled on the fact that previously she was acting and playing to stereotypes and now she feels liberated as she has realised she doesn't have to be that person any more. I can relate to this article.

Growing up I was always a tomboy with a very boyish frame but once I hit puberty I grew - boobs, hips, et al. I noticed a big change in the way I was perceived by boys in my school; whereas I once was the mate who messed about with them and was seen as an asexual equal, I became an object of interest of an entirely different kind. My bum would be grabbed walking through the corridor, they would strain to see my bra through my white shirt, and assumed I would want to kiss them behind the bike sheds as I was 'that sort of girl'. I was not a good-looking young teenager by any means - I had a mid-90s poodle perm, un-plucked brows, puppy fat and was often told that without my hair I would look exactly like the younger of my eldest two brothers (as in, I looked like a boy). Despite these drawbacks I was not lacking of male attention and not of the 'I want to be with you forever' romantic kind, but the 'can I please just have a peek down your shirt' kind. Not good. Did I flirt and play up to this stereotype? Definitely, especially once I hit around 15 and up until the age of about 18 - it stopped after this point because I put on 6 stone and went up to a size 24 and was no longer found desirable by 90% of the male populace (a rough estimation). When I was 21 I went through a hideous break up three months before I was due to get married to my only serious boyfriend, and I lost 6 stone in as many months as a result of this (not healthy - don't do it).

It was after this period that I slimmed down to a size 8 and whilst I still had a large bust, I was petite elsewhere and had no real hips to speak of. I still wasn't a curvy girl in the traditional sense and therefore did not feel that I had much to flaunt. I was quiet, shy and did not flirt with anyone at any time (arguably due to aforementioned break up). After meeting my now boyfriend of four years I put on weight and I am now a UK size 12-14 - I have my curves back! Was I ever really a "Bad Girl"? Only in theory as I never slept around but I did flirt and I did try to influence others from time to time with my womanly wiles. Was I manipulative, foxy and an all-round sexpot like Jessica Rabbit and all of those other shapely film stars? Not. At. All. Women come in many shapes and sizes and we should not let Hollywood, or the way men react to how we look, determine our identities. I am comfortable in my skin as I know my flaws and I know I have a jiggly tummy and a chubby face - my boyfriend doesn't care, so why should I? He doesn't expect me to be a cookie-cutter woman who fits certain ideals defined by my body-shape, so why should I assume that role for myself? The answer is I shouldn't and neither should you. If you feel sexy with a 32 AA bust and a slender build, bloody good for you because you can make pretty much any outfit look fantastic. If, like me, you have a large bust and hips but a narrower waist all I can say is - embrace that too and wear whatever you feel comfortable and attractive in. I feel just as attractive in an 80s inspired blazer as I do in a figure-hugging 40's shift dress. Don't label yourself other than to say you are you and don't act in a way that you feel will gain you the most positive reaction from others; if there is one thing that I have learnt in my 27 years it is that people will see through it and you will lose them as a result. Being you and embracing who you are, curvy or otherwise, is far more attractive than adhering to any stereotype whether based on gender, body shape, race, etcetera.

Nicole x

Halloween 2010


  1. This is seriously one of the best posts I have ever read on this topic. I am a curvy girl with hips and big boobs which I didn't get until I was about 19 so thankfully I was able to handle it a bit better because I was much older than my friends were. I felt so boyish and gross in high school when all my friends were being asked out and I was just the 'friend'. Now I get way too much attention from sleazy guys staring at my chest and I realise how my friends must have felt in high school! I think we are all beautiful and as you say if we embrace who we are that's a truly attractive quality. Trust me when I say I know a few people who should really read this :-) P.S Love your halloween costume!

    1. @Emma - I am glad you liked the post enough to comment; I really put a lot of thought into it and am glad at least one person who read it could relate to it in some way :) I can honestly understand what you mean by the whole sleazy thing as rarely did I get attention from men that was founded on anything more than attraction to my large bust. After all, irrelevant of my shape I'm a traditional girl that just wants commitment and love from another person, not a casual fling! It really does annoy me when men think this is all we're good for and women don't respect themselves enough to refuse to live the stereotype.

      Haha, my Halloween costume here is a mish-mash as I didn't go out with the wings on. My boyfriend and I dressed as an undead prom couple. I managed to do his make up much better than mine, but he doesn't want his pictures plastered on my blog! Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it!