Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of Breasts and Femininity

It's funny how all-consuming my breast cancer journey was for a while - that is until my reconstruction was finished. The urgency about it all sort of faded for me soon after tattoos were complete, evident by the fact that I never even posted about getting them done. When all of this was fresh and new, never did I believe that I'd be able to go a few hours - let alone months - without thinking, talking or writing about breast cancer. But I no longer even check into a breast cancer support site that had become my lifeline anymore and I only seem to think about cancer when it's time to see my oncologist...

Yesterday, I took the day off and found myself watching the "Tyra Banks" show in the middle of the afternoon. The show was about how size matters - specifically, the size of a woman's butt, hips, thighs and breasts. On stage was a panel of "experts" - five guys who sat and observed, giving their take on women's backsides and bra sizes. I guess they were there to prove right every stereotype about men and what they're attracted to, because that's exactly what they did.

But it was truly amazing to see how many young women in the audience and on stage equated their femininity with how their asses look or how many guys stare at their boobs when they walk into a bar. Two women, upset with their A cups and the fact that their best friends had huge ta-tas, had practically spent their whole lives lamenting the fact that their small breasts had kept them from truly enjoying life. They only lit up when they were given push up bras, breast enhancement pads and low-cut shirts to parade in front of the gaggle of guys at a mixer. Neither of the women seemed bothered by the fact that the guys hardly looked them in the face at all; they were both just sooooo happy with the attention that they didn't know what to do.

Next came the segment where the panel of guy experts tested their visual acuity by guessing the bra sizes of random women in the audience. To their credit, most of them nailed the cup sizes, but almost none of them got the back size correct. The poor fellas had no idea really what the numbers before the cup sizes actually meant and a few kinda thought that the bigger the number the bigger the boob.

There was even a woman who admitted to using her boobs to get guys to pay her rent, buy her gifts or do things for her. She even told a story of how she once had a guy in a bar give her the $600 in his wallet just for a quick feel. When Tyra asked her if she thought the idea of taking money to get felt up seemed remotely like prostitution, she simply laughed the idea away.

Not one woman on the stage or in the audience stood up to say she used to be a certain cup size but breast cancer had sort of changed that. Nobody flashed a breast prosthesis and asked the panel to figure out what the hell size it was. Nobody really even thought it was odd that losing one or both breasts to disease was even a possibility. It was really sad. And I'm planning to write Tyra today and tell her the same.

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