How We See Them
As fashion accessories. When I buy a dress, I don't consciously think, Wow, this is going to make all the men in the room want me. More like, How will it offset my best feature?
I know what you're thinking: Nothing low-cut was ever purchased in innocence. I swear to you, my breasts and I, we never conspire. We're just trying to look our best.
I feel about my breasts the way Audrey Hepburn felt about her neck. They're just part of my outfit, along with the right shoes, the right hose, the right earrings. All of which, of course, means nothing when confronted with...
How Men See Them
Simple: as the very focal point of the entire world. The male gaze flies past all my attempts to craft an individual style and makes a beeline for the breasts.
On the one hand, this is not so bad. I have worn the same tasteful yet cleavage-enhancing black dress to every party I've been to for 3 years. I've thought about buying a new one, but who would notice? Think: Who at your Thanksgiving table will complain about mashed potatoes or squash when your bird is so plump and juicy?
I am not always the best-looking or most sought-after girl at the party. But I always look appropriately festive, men tell me that I look nice, and if you ever spot someone waving a twenty at the bartender to get his attention...chances are that someone isn't me.
The downside is that many potentially fascinating conversations get lost inside my plunging neckline. For a while I tried wearing necklaces - I read in a women's magazine (a dubious source of information on any topic other than osteoporosis) that this would "draw the eye upward." Unfortunately, it merely provided an excuse for men's eyes to linger in this general area:
"Hey, is that a necklace? It's nice; where did you get it?"
"I've never been to England, but the longer I look at this necklace, you know, the more I feel I have."
My advice, should you find yourself chatting with an amply endowed female, is to practice restraint. It's not that we mind you looking at our breasts; it's just that seeing you do it is creepy. The stare, obviously, is bad, and the quick, subtle glance is never as quick or subtle as you hope.
Try using your powers of reconnaissance; stare sideways at a woman while you're talking to another man, and then, later, when you start up a conversation with her, look her in the eye while enjoying the mental picture of her breasts.
This might all sound complicated, but it's really not. For those of you who need a little motivation, remember that while prisoners get time off for good behavior, you get shirts off.
Of course, it's during the shirts-off phase that the difference between How We See Them and How Men See Them is most interesting. Men are always a bit amazed to see a pair of naked breasts, and their amazement level increases with quality and size.
So I come to that naked-from-the-waist-up moment with mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am so totally over these things. On the other hand, hello, you are beholding items of serious quality, and son, you'd better recognize it.
If this sounds like just one more damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't chick rule, I apologize. I have always been a fan of the quick, sincere compliment. ("Whoa, nice rack," is not what I have in mind. "Wow, you have gorgeous breasts," is more like it). Living every day with these things, we tend to forget how interesting and sexy they are to people who don't live with them, and it's nice to be reminded.
That takes care of the talking part. As to what you do, well, it's really a matter of personal taste among consenting adults. I was with a group of women lately, and one wished her boyfriend would touch her breasts more when they had sex. Her friend made a face and said her boyfriend was much, much too fixated on hers. I suggested they switch boyfriends.
Bottom line: If you ask most women what they like, they'll be happy to tell you.
After 20 years of having big breasts, I look down at them and ask, What have you done for me lately? I do get to walk around as the proud owner of these things that women want and men want to touch. On bad days, when I'm heartbroken, or just plain broke, I have consoled myself with this fact. (Yes, I do know that's lame.)
I'm aware of the preconception that women with big breasts can coast through life unchecked, but I haven't gotten as much free fish as you might think. Rental-car agents don't neglect to charge me when I scratch the Dodge Neon. When I speed, cops write me massive tickets just like everyone else.
I get the same amount of bad news and good news everyone else gets; it's just that whoever delivers it often does so staring at my boobs.
Still, even though women and men - possessors and obsessors - don't see breasts the same way, our two worldviews can coexist. We women need to remember that what we take for granted are two of your main reasons for living. You men need to remember that breasts are flesh and blood, not Fisher-Price toys.
Let's cut a deal. We'll wear nothing but low-cut shirts... if you promise to listen to everything we say when we're wearing them.
This article was originally published on MensHealth.com