Written by Tara Dalbow, edited by Amelia Diamond
With the impending approach of National Go Topless Day on August 25th, we thought it was high time to start the conversation on boobs. So, boobs:
I was scanning my local newsstand two days ago debating which magazine would be my next September issue purchase when I spotted it: the fall fashion issue of New York Magazine featuring Lake Bell in all her topless D-cup glory.
The newsstand was fairly crowded yet I seemed to be the only one gaping at the naked body confronting me from the cover. Sure, we’re used to seeing pictures of breasts, titties, tatas, jugs, melons on the covers of gentlemen’s magazines and other less-than-upstanding-publications. But these boobs were featured on the cover of an award-winning publication with a highbrow-brilliant audience.
I loved the cover and assumed fellow fashion enthusiasts would “get” the cover. But where were the guys going crazy, fawning over her slim torso and robust chest? In the middle of this newsstand located on the corner of a bustling yet decidedly unfashionable block, only one male was staring at Lake Bell. But it wasn’t for her body. As he reached for the magazine I heard him comment to his friend about a featured story that had absolutely nothing to do with the Bell boobs.
This got me thinking. Have boobs finally becoming less of a taboo in our culture? Are men starting to recognize the two masses on our chests as something more than mysterious weapons designed solely to distract and amuse? Are they being viewed as breasts, rather than “tits,” replete with milk ducts and lobules and areolas? Lets not forget all that fatty tissue. With boobs perking up in all sorts of un-sexy places, we are starting to believe so.
Everyone seems to be talking about Elizabeth Siematkowski, a founder of Toplessblading™ who recently rollerbladed across the Williamsburg Bridge sans-top during rush hour traffic. She said she was paid very little attention, much less hollered-at or harassed .
And is it just me or has the Hudson River Park become quite the hotspot for bare-chested tanners? During a recent run through said park I almost forgot I was in the US. Between the piles of discarded bikinis tops and unbearable summer heat, I found myself half-tempted to take it all off and continue my jog as a free bird, boobs swinging happily unbound in the breeze.
Let’s not forget fashion’s contribution to this notion. Models are being sent down the runways with perky little chests showing through barely-there pieces of mesh. It’s not a photo shoot unless there’s nipple and it’s not an outfit without some sideboob. Crop tops are making the transition into fall despite impending cold weather and it kind of seems like they’re getting shorter?
By this time next year if the trend continues its upward climb, bras may become modest blouses.
The appeal of boobs essentially follows the supply and demand format. If we withhold the supply, boobs retain their mystery and inherent sexuality. But what we’re currently doing — and by “we” I mean the topless tanners and rollerbladers of New York, the fashion enthusiasts who view nipple-itis as an accessory and the magazine consumers unafraid to reach for a cover featuring full-frontal nudity — is oversaturating the market. And if we oversaturate the market (and you paid attention in econ class), boobs lose their value as sexual entities. They simply become a chest.
But is that necessarily a good thing? Should we eschew shirts in hopes of feeling more “equal” to man? — If he can go topless, why can’t I? — Or is the desexualization of our breasts something we want to avoid? Aren’t boobs something to be celebrated? Something that makes us special because men don’t have them?
Whatever your stance is — bra, no bra, full frontal or turtleneck in summer –the notion of progression and change is what’s important. Breaking this type of social norm has a lot less to do with feminism or antifeminism, empowerment or degradation, and a lot more to do with freedom and choice and acceptance.
To be honest, though, we’re still not entirely sure where we stand, so please, impart your wisdom. But before you run wild in the comments (go crazy, it’s Friday!) we leave you with this final thought:
How would this entire conversation change if the body part in question was a penis?