My breasts and Page 3

Approximately 25 years ago two little bulges of fat started to appear on my previously smooth chest. What began as two painful tender nubs became 2 mounds in what felt like record time. At 12 I was very well endowed, enough to comfortably fill a B cup-on a child’s frame. I remember clearly because M&S were the only high street store selling “teen” bras back then-we hadn’t started seeing black satin pushup bras for the pre-pubescent at that point (that I knew of anyway).

Within a year I was positively rubenesque (not my choice of phrase, that came from a male PE teacher-I had to ask mum what it meant). Along with the physically stressful experience (I found bras deeply uncomfortable and itchy) came the emotional abuse. I was bullied by other girls in my age-group, all on different stages of our developmenal journey. I was leered at, taunted, groped and objectified by the boys in my peergroup and above. I was fair game for the older boys to “ask out”. I was 12. I hated being me through those years, but more than hating me, I hated my breasts.

I hated the attention they garnered and when they just kept growing I developed a disgust for my body. I couldn’t hide them. I tried strapping them down, I wore baggy jumpers. Nothing worked,  I still got singled out. They made me appear older than my years and I found myself regularly harassed.

Of course I grew up, we all do, I grew around my breasts but my obsession with reducing my breastsize grew too. I had had too many experiences of receiving abuse like “give us a soapy tit wank”, “get yer tits out”, “get back on page 3 yer slapper”. I saved and saved and at 28 I had enough to pay for a breast reduction operation.

I underwent 4 hours of major surgery having my G cups reduced to B cups. I experienced pain and fear in order to change my body enough to stop how I felt about it and to stop the abusive remarks-abuse levelled simply at how I looked. The responses from men to the existence of my breasts.

I feel a strong belief 10 years on from my reduction surgery that had my breasts not been considered public property the minute they began to appear, had I not felt defined by them and the need for their “perfection” I would not have treated my body in the way I did. Had I not been disturbed and stared at by men who saw breasts on a page every morning with breakfast so found it acceptable to stare at mine, then maybe, just maybe my own opinions may not have been so harsh or critical. There isn’t a smoking gun here of cause and effect but it definitely played its part.

I’ve heard all the arguments for page 3, the empowerment of the models, the celebration of the female form. I don’t feel able to comment on their empowerment any more than they could comment on mine-and what is empowerment anyway, other than a Spicegirls tag line and an excuse to justify anything society wants to OK- “it’s empowering, oh-OK then”. I certainly felt no power when my body was objectified solely for being attached to my breasts.  For me, my dislike for page 3, other misogynistic articles in those types of papers and “lads mags” in general is the license it gives to say “this is woman”. “This is the norm”.

It has nothing to do with nudity or prudishness, I find the female form in ALL its varying shapes and sizes to be beautiful-and that’s not a Dove advert cop-out, I genuinely do, I love the bodies of women,  but that’s not what I’m confronted with in the publications I’ve mentioned. I’m confronted with a lie, a lie that says women are devoid of body hair, cellulite, scars, fat, lumps, bumps, tiny breasts, pendulous breasts, pimples, birthmarks, freckles or any other thing that differs from the “ideal”. Conversely I don’t buy the “they aren’t real women” argument either, those who appear on page 3 ARE real women, with lives, choices and opinions. The problem I have is that no-one who reads that paper gives a shit about that. It adds to the objectification that happens every day off the page. I know from experience that this is true, the arguments for it and for its place in our society just don’t stack up or convince me otherwise.

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16 Responses to My breasts and Page 3

  1. And in countries with zero sexual images, misogynists would still harass you. These arguments could be used to argue for abolition of all porn and sex work too.

    • bloggingdame says:

      Hi, thx for the comment, I have to say I don’t know-sadly I currently don’t know a great deal about experiences of harassment outside my own sphere (culturally) and should definitely find out. I can only talk to my own experience with any real conviction and I don’t think I’m especially arguing for a ban tbh. I’m pointing out that on an individual basis I was personally effected by objectification and I firmly believe that attitudes to and about women are negatively impacted by mediums like pg 3.

    • “These arguments could be used to argue for abolition of all porn and sex work too.”

      Good! Women aren’t objects, women aren’t commodities.

    • There is not a known country with zero objectification. Few sexual images, sure, but FORCING women to cover up sends the same message – your body is not for you, but for a man (in this case a husband).
      However, countries that have lower objectification have lower harassment issues.

    • Something to think about says:

      You are right there are many things that contribute to misogyny and many ways of expressing it….although the author has not mentioned that word.

      • Not The News in Briefs says:

        Women are harassed in all countries it’s true, but in this country we are supposed to have equality and it is partly the media representation of women that denies us this. It is no help to us to be compared with other cultures with other reasons for misogyny, it does not alter the fact that despite our developed and civilized status we are still routinely objectifying women and selling it as empowerment. This is a brave and powerful piece of writing which many women will be able to relate to – thank you for writing it.

      • bloggingdame says:

        Many thanks-greatly appreciated.

  2. Saz says:

    I was very moved by your experience, and I imagine you are not alone. I was the other end of the scale, developed late, and experienced exactly the same grief for not fitting the stereotype. And I do blame Page3 in part for that- when I was growing up, magazines like cosmo and nuts either didn’t exist or were not showing the negative images they do now- Page3 stood alone in ‘normalising’ breasts being there for men’s pleasure, day in, day out.
    I hope you have been able to make friends with your body now- as Tim Minchin said about his body in ‘Not Perfect’, “And the weirdest thing about it is, I spend so much time hating it, But it never says a bad word about me…”

  3. Tesria says:

    Flinching a little as a read this. I felt/feel exactly the same way. I can’t afford surgery though, and despite years of trying I still can’t reconcile my 34JJ chest with feeling good about myself. I can’t see it as anything other than highly sexualised. It sucks.

    • bloggingdame says:

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. There is no easy answer and surgery is painful and expensive…But works in the main if you are trying to reduce your breast size. I hope you find a way to manage how you feel. Thank you so much for the comment and sharing how you feel. Come and find me on Twitter as @cateleven if you use twitter 🙂

  4. Such a shame that you felt you had to undergo major surgery to be acceptable. As much as I hate page 3, I think the major issue here is more that plastic surgery is so easily accessible and socially acceptable. Feeling objectified and like your breasts are public property is terrible, but what shocks me more is that your direct response to that was to want half of your breasts surgically removed. I would be interested to know how the surgeon saw this (were they counselling against, or agreeing with you that you were imperfect/substandard?)

    You say ‘I find the female form in ALL its varying shapes and sizes to be aesthetically stunning’ Would you recommend a girl in your position today to do the same thing, or would you rather counselling was available to boost her sense of self esteem and self worth without the need for surgery?

    • bloggingdame says:

      I didn’t draw a correlation back then, I was tired of the comments and how I felt I looked. The surgeon was supportive and gave the proper amount of time to reflect on the decision-but you need to bear in mind this was something I’d coped with for 15 years by the time I took the decision to have surgery-mentally and physically. I don’t think there is a specific line to be drawn and I don’t “blame” page three. I just feel there is much to be said for the comidification of women’s bodies.

    • bloggingdame says:

      Sorry-missed the second half of your comment!! I’d definitely recommend counseling ahead of surgery, to avoid the cost, pain and stress-but I’d never judge any woman to make a personal choice with her own body.

  5. I can relate to a lot of this – Never big boobed, but I was 10yo and a 34B. The boys at school (year 5) called me ‘Miss Mountains.’ Hated being ‘different’ and my boobs being considered public property – some of my friends parents commented on me wearing clothes their daughters wore as ‘inappropriate’ – because I had boobs, I shouldn’t be dressing like a 10yo girl? What should I have worn? A halter neck & hot pants?

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