By the time I was 13, I had a C-cup, and by the time I was 15, a D. Today, I hover between a 34 and a 36D, depending on whether I'm on the Pill, and, disgustingly, how much beer I've been drinking. Either way, they garner their share of attention—wanted or otherwise.
There are times when it all seems quite silly to me, when I look at mine in the mirror and think, what a lot of excitement over two little—okay, enormous—mounds of fat! Then again, there's the occasional moment when I'll pull an old cotton T-shirt out of the dryer and slip it, still warm and quite tight, over my head, the name of my old university straining across my front.
And as I happen to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I can't help but think of Teri Hatcher's line from that old Seinfeld episode: "They're real, and they're spectacular."
I know men like to think that women lie around all day touching and staring at their breasts. Well, every once in a while, in fact, we do. But aside from the odd afternoon interlude, most women don't find their own breasts especially sexual. Our breasts kind of have two—well, four—personalities. There is How We See Them. And then there is How Men See Them...
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?
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 behaviour, 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 recognise it.
If this sounds like just one more damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't chick rule, I apologise. 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.
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