Boobs have been big this year! No, wait, I mean it’s been a big year for boobs in pop culture. Some years, not much happens with famous racks—perhaps an ambitiously plunging dress or two, or the discovery of a new kind of cleavage, like “side-boob.” In other years, breasts are upstaged by vaginas. After all, they don’t enjoy the same urban-legend mystery that surrounds other so-called private parts. (Remember when Paris Hilton would go commando and photographers would blow up shots of her nether region like it was the Loch Ness Monster?) Tits, on the other hand, are like politicians’ tax returns; the world expects to see them. And now, when we can all agree that vajays are so out of style, boobs are back on top! So let’s lift and separate some of the more significant chest events of the past few months and take a closer look:
Season Two of Girls, with Lena Dunham and her girls. From the very first episodes, Dunham was again doing nude scenes with her non-Hollywood body, making it clear that she really—and awesomely—just doesn’t give a shit, even as Internet commenters and media trolls called her breasts “fugly,” “hideously hanging,” and “small.” (That last complaint was from a New York Post critic who also groused about her “giant thighs” and “sloppy backside”). So why should we give a shit about Lena Duham’s flapjacks or the things people say about them? Because Dunham also writes, directs, and produces Girls. Which means the implied complaint isn’t just that her boobs are ugly, it’s that Dunham, with all her creative control, somehow inflicts them upon others. Of course, if she were more conventionally “hot,” it would be just business as usual. After all…
“We Saw Your Boobs” was a song-and-dance number at the Oscars. Remember Seth MacFarlane’s hosting gig? Remember his song that tried so hard to be shocking but was actually just a depressing reminder of how women’s award-winning screen performances tend to be measured in seconds of titty time? Memo to MacFarlane: there’s a time and place for appreciating whatever parts of a famous person turn you on—but Oscar night, in front of an audience of millions who aren’t all your frat buddies, isn’t one of them. Actually, it’s safe to say that most times aren’t good times to talk about how boobs are what you value most about a woman. Especially when…
If The Year of the Boobs teaches us anything, it’s that the world still talks about boobs as if they aren’t quite a woman’s own to reveal, conceal, or get surgically removed.
Angelina Jolie gets hers removed. This past May, Jolie wrote a New York Times op-ed about her decision to get a preventative double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer. People talked about how brave she was to make that decision and discuss it publicly. People also talked—a lot—about how bummed out they are that her boobs are gone. Let’s think about what this means: somehow, the idea of Angelina Jolie’s original boobs no longer being in the world is of more consequence to these guys than Angelina Jolie avoiding a fatal disease. Really.
If The Year of the Boobs teaches us anything, it’s that the world still talks about boobs as if they aren’t quite a woman’s own to reveal, conceal, or get surgically removed. If only someone would point out that they’re called private parts for a reason….
But wait, isn’t that exactly what Jon Hamm did recently, after he found out there were numerous websites devoted to checking out his package? “When people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock,” he complained in an interview, “I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal [of fame].” Apparently he doesn’t realize that for anyone with boobs, “the deal” has always included the Tumblr accounts, the gawking, the comments. Then again, maybe all the attention Jon’s, uh, Hamm has been getting could mean that trends are changing. Will dicks be the new boobs? We’ll just have to wait and see.
By Wendy McClure
Illustrated by Jessica Warrick
This story appears in the Oct/Nov 2013 issue of BUST Magazine with Neko Case. Subscribe now.