Within our society, breasts are viewed as one of the integral parts of being a woman. This is problematic not only for those who identify as female but are not biologically female, but also for those who are in fact biologically female, but do not have breasts that look the way they are Ďexpectedí to.
Our society is flooded with images of breasts. Whether it comes from pornography, advertising or the media, it is everywhere you turn. But the breasts shown are all very much the same: large, firm, upright. This repeated imagery begins to create a societal expected norm, that breasts must be large, firm, and upright.
This is not only expected from men, but women too.
Undoubtedly, pornography is a key player in the way women and breasts are viewed. Boys are exposed to porn from young ages, and begin to see a trend in the pictures and videos they see: the women have large busts, and this is what makes them attractive. This idea is reinforced over and over.
Within the media, women are exploited and scantily dressed to expose skin and cleavage. Music videos show women walking around in nothing but heels and bikinis, or in the case of Robin Thicke, girls walking around in nude-coloured underwear (if you can even call it that) and completely topless, while he himself, is walking around in a suit (often seen as a power symbol).
Women portrayed in magazines are airbrushed and photoshopped to decrease the size of their waists, hips and shoulders, and increase the size of their busts.
And donít even get me started on the dolls that are sold to children: Barbie dolls with bodies so unrealistic, itís ridiculous.
Something Iíve always found interesting however is the role advertising and marketing has in creating these expected norms of womenís bodies and breasts. Products that have nothing to do with breasts (or sometimes, even women) are advertised with the presence of a woman portrayed in a sexual manner.
An advertisement for a couch will show a tall, slender woman in a low cut dress that exposes her cleavage, walking around the furniture, sensually stroking it. An advertisement for male deodorant will show women in Ďprovocativeí clothing throwing themselves at men. An ad for jeans will show a topless woman wearing them, with only her nipples hidden.
Whenever I see these ads, I ask myself, why? Why is it okay to use womenís bodies as objects to appeal to sexual desire and coerce a person into buying your product? Why is it okay to portray womenís breasts so freely in the media, but the moment a woman is breast feeding in public, everyone is up in arms about it?
The answer: itís not okay. Not only do these advertisements objectify women, but they contribute to how men expect a woman to look, and how women expect to look. And apparently breasts are only okay if theyíre used as sexual objects, not to feed and care for oneís child, but thatís a whole other issue.
For those of us out there (myself included) who have never had large breasts that look like the ones represented to us in society, we are in a daily struggle with ourselves to make them look bigger than they are, more firm than they are, and differently shaped than they are. We begin to tell ourselves that breasts are what make us attractive, and therefore, the lack of large or firm breasts make us less desirable to others.
This is why one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures across the world is breast augmentation (alongside liposuction and rhinoplasty).
Iíve got nothing against cosmetic surgery, I myself have been considering it for months. But one thing I will say is, do it for you, not for others. Do it so you will feel good about yourself. Do it so you will be happy with your body. But donít do it because you want someone to respect you as a woman. Anyone who makes you feel like less of a woman based purely on your breasts is not someone you need or want in your life.
Ladies, embrace your bodies! All breasts are beautiful, no matter the size, shape or firmness.