Friday, February 4, 2011

Booby Prize

I just read a report from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons saying that the numbers of women wanting breast implants in the UK has gone up dramatically in the last year, partly inspired by Christina Hendricks who plays Joan in Mad Men.

The glorious Christina Hendricks in Mad Men

Really, ladies? I love Christina, too, but you’re out of your minds: take it from one who knows.
I’m just going to say it right up-front: I have huge breasts. And I’m talking about the home-grown, God-given kind. As I’m otherwise regarded as petite and stand only five foot one, you can appreciate that they are my most outstanding feature.
It wasn’t always so. In my pubescent years, my friend Marlene and I wore bras we couldn’t fill. Schoolgirl lore of the 1960s had it that we would grow into them. Marlene didn’t have a whole lot of luck with the “grow-into” theory but in my case, it not only apparently worked but soon got quite out of hand.
In a futile attempt to reverse the process, or at least minimize the monster I’d created, I began stuffing myself into smaller bras. The result was that I bulged painfully out of and under my circular-stitched, cotton bullet bras. I should have realized that the bra I wore had little to do with my ultimate size. By 15 I was a D-cup and now, with the extra padding that comes with the years, I’m a G and I can thank women on both sides of my family for the G-enes.
Even though my figure was so matur­e at such a young age, the rest of me still had a long way to go. As an excruciatingly self-conscious teenager, my shyness was compounded by the taunts of the neighborhood jokesters. It was the 60s, and the Beatles had a big hit with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” It became everybody’s idea of fun to sing to as I walked by, “I want to hold your gland.” I adopted a hunched posture—easy enough when you’re packing that much weight—and a habit of walking with my arms crossed over my chest—not quite so easy.
The hot fashions of my teenage years were not for me. Skinny-knit sweaters looked obscene, mini baby-doll dresses stood out like tents, and mod geometric prints got bent right out of shape. I missed the boat by about a decade. Had I been ten years older, I would have hit the Marilyn Monroe/Jane Russell era and been right in fashion.

But no; I was ...
... a Jayne Mansfield girl ...

... in a Twiggy world.
Lingerie manufacturers did little to sweeten the situation. Large-sized bras were strictly plain and func­tional. I’d seen more alluring parachutes. You may have gathered that I was less than appreciative of Mother Nature’s— and mother Hynes’s—ample gift.
But of course, everything that goes around comes around, especially in the fashion world. By the early 80s, fashion models no longer looked like escapees from the anorexia ward, fashion magazines started to feature cleavage, and “jiggle” shows abounded on television.

Jiggle queen Suzanne Somers in Three's Company

Playtex even dusted off the iconic Jane Russell (who famously inspired Howard Hughes to engineer a bra for her) to be the spokesperson for their line of bras for “full-figured gals.” They were still pretty damn hideous, though.
I started exercising a lot around this time. Sports bras hadn’t really been invented yet and I had to wear two, sometimes three bras for aerobics class. Even now, no-one has got this problem handled. Let’s face it, when you’re talking about anything bigger than a C-cup, you really need undergarments made from rebar and cement.
That current trend for big hooters has endured a long time now. It’s morphed, in fact, into what I believe is an unhealthy obsession in our culture for big breasts: the bigger the better. I’m absolutely astounded by the number of women who have implants. You hardly see anyone of any age in the media who doesn’t have that tell-tale hard, rounded ridge painfully obvious in her cleavage. And it’s not as though it’s all been part and parcel of a trend towards generally meatier women. Fashion models and entertainers are now so painfully skinny that their implants often look like balloons on a stick. Come to think of it, thank heavens for Christina Hendricks because as a size 14, perhaps she’ll influence more than just breast size.
It breaks my heart to hear young girls in their teens saying they don’t feel pretty or attractive to boys because they have small breasts. I want to tell them about the excruciating pain in my upper back that I’ve lived with since I was in high school; show them the deep, permanent gouges across my shoulders where bra straps have dug in for 45 years.
On the other hand, my complaints about how I’ve never found a shirt that fits everywhere else and that also buttons across the bust or that strapless tops are out for me is now obsolete. Obviously driven by consumer demand, the clothing industry actually makes garments designed to fit big busts. There is further compensation for living long enough to be in fashion. Underwear companies are now making gorgeous bras that fit me: colors other than white or “flesh,” lace, the whole glamorous shebang. Although they’re clearly made for free-standing breasts, the engineering is so sophisticated that they still perk up relaxed 60-year-old giant ta-tas. There are even entire shops that cater only to D-plus girls like Jenette Bras in Los Angeles. And get this: you can buy bikini tops up - and good looking ones at that - up to E cups and mix them with a bottom that actually fits from Nubia Swimwear in Capitola, California. That's just plain brilliant. My cup runneth over. Of course it’s all come about just when nobody is interested in seeing me in my undies or a bathing suit, but still, I enjoy wearing them.
If I’ve long considered them to be breasts of burden, why, you are probably asking, didn’t I ever have reduction surgery? Believe me, I’ve thought about it from time to time. But I rejected the idea for the same reasons that I’ve opted not to have facial plastic surgery. Breast reduction or a breast lift is major surgery. I didn’t want to inflict elective surgery on my body when it had served me so well and I’d never had to have any kind of surgery in my entire life, and rarely even been ill. It just seemed like tempting fate. Then there was the esthetic issue: why trade big but healthy breasts for small scarred ones? But most importantly, when it really came right down to it, I didn’t want to change my body that drastically. Since I was a teenager, for better or worse, people have identified me as the girl/woman with the big jugs/knockers/tits/hooter/melons.
My wish for all of those young women who are considering altering their bodies with surgery is that they could get that could celebrate and embrace who they are, too. Every one of us would like to change something about our bodies. For many years I would have gladly swapped three cup sizes for an equal number of inches of leg length. But not anymore; because you know what? I’ve come to realize that the person I am at 60 must be partly due to having lived for 40-odd years with big knockers and they are actually an essential part of my sum and substance.


  1. Funny! If it's any consolation, I didn't even notice you had big knockers. Then again, I'm not 16 and male. Or perhaps, my dear, you just carry them well.

  2. Nice pics Angela. "Mad Men" is one of my favorite TV shows. On this business of 'breast enhancement' for women, I just can't understand it (but I'm not a woman, so perhaps I would think differently if I was).

    The mention of Jayne Mansfield reminded me of the horrific car accident that resulted in her death.....terrible way to go! John.

  3. Thanks John, appreciate your comments. Yes, poor Jane Mansfield! It nice that her daughter is doing so well as her legacy.