Do Your Boobs Hang Low?

Please note: This post contains links and video that show female nudity, and even though the images are non-sexual, they’re still probably NSFW (unless you’re self-employed).

American culture has a prude, yet promiscuous attitude about women’s bodies. We shy away from honest and educational discussions about “private” body parts, but at the same time we’re exposed to hours of sexually explicit imagery in our media. How many of us have healthy attitudes about our bodies? What does a “normal” woman even look like?
What are “normal-looking” breasts? What is a “normal-looking” vagina? We’ve seen our own bodies reflected back at us in the mirror, and we may have seen our mothers’ or sisters’ bodies as we grew up. Otherwise, the most common representations we see belong to actresses, lingerie models, or porn stars, all of whom adhere to a very narrow body standard. When we compare our reflections with those representations, most of us look quite different. Generally, straight women don’t get to see many other normal women naked. I would imagine that straight men and lesbians have a greater understanding of the subtle differences in women’s bodies than the rest of us.
In my book, I compiled this list of just some of the variations that — thanks to the media — we’ve come to define as flaws. The criteria for determining a body part a flaw just seems to depend on the availability of a “solution” for that flaw. In other words, a part becomes a flaw when there’s a product or service that we can buy to fix it. Newly-defined body flaws are new sources of revenue for companies. And we “buy” right into it. We’re never okay just as we are — there’s always one more little thing that we can tweak. The more we see images of female perfection in the media, the more we look at our normal bodies with critical eyes.
More and more of us are surgically altering the very parts that make us female — our breasts and our vulvas — for no other reason than to fit an arbitrary ideal. I think it’s important that we all get a chance to see what non surgically-altered, unretouched women look like. My hope is that if we see the differences and similarities in other real women’s bodies, then we can gain a healthier perspective and learn to have a better appreciation for our own bodies.
This website has lots and lots of pictures of breasts — big ones, small ones, saggy ones, perky ones, post-pregnancy ones, etc. As the site says, “There is enormous variation in what is normal. Sizes and shapes vary enormously. So don’t worry, ladies!” The pictures on this site are not objectified images or shots taken without consent. They’re user-submitted with faces cropped for anonymity, and they’re accompanied by short commentaries from the submitters. Personally, after browsing the images on this site and reading about the women’s feelings about their breasts, I had a renewed appreciation for my own.
Documentary filmmaker Lisa Rogers discusses the growing number of women seeking labiaplasty in her film, “The Perfect Vagina.” Labiaplasty is a cosmetic procedure in which a surgeon removes the part of the labia minora (inner vaginal lips) that hangs below the outer labia majora. Some women seek out this procedure to alleviate pain and discomfort, but an increasing number of others are getting their lips sliced off so that they can meet the porn star ideal. This thoughtful and educational film discusses our relationship with the most intimate part of our bodies. (Be aware that this film shows a cringe-worthy and graphic scene of a young woman undergoing this surgery.) You can view the entire film here.
In “The Perfect Vagina,” Rogers meets with sculptor Jamie McCartney who has made casts of 350 female volunteers’ vulvas for his project called The Great Wall of Vagina” (aka “Design A Vagina”). As McCartney says: “For many women their genitals are a source of shame rather than pride and this piece seeks to redress the balance, showing that everyone is different and everyone is normal. The sculpture comments on the trend for surgery to create the ‘perfect’ vagina. This modern day equivalent of female genital mutilation is a bizarre practice which suggests that one is better than another.”
Here’s a short video describing his project:


I believe that educating ourselves about our bodies is empowering. When we feel comfortable in our own skin, we feel more comfortable in navigating the world — saggy breasts, droopy labia, and all.


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