Knockers: a love story in three parts

By Ann Ivins

Christina Hendricks: that’s what real looks like, boys.

Today, women around the interwebs participate in Boobquake. The brainchild of self-described “liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist” blogger Jen McCreight, this Commemoration of Cleavage, Festival of Funbags, Jubilee of Jugs is in actuality a double-mam slap in the face to this jackass, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, whose charmingly magical thinking runs something like this:

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.

Wow. I knew adultery, rape, disease, societal meltdown, bastard children and plagues of locusts were the fault of my dirty pillows, but earthquakes? Damn. Tectonic plates minding their geologic business inching along beneath the earth’s surface can be suddenly and violently shifted by the sheer force of my immodestly-displayed bazoombas? I am… humbled. Ashamed. Forgive me, girls. I have apparently been wasting your mighty powers all these years on free drinks and the occasional cut in line. Let me atone. Let me now sing the praises of my constant companions these last twenty-five years: my breasts.


A classic late-maturing female, I was short, skinny and entirely unendowed for the first thirteen or fourteen (okay, fifteen) years of my long-ago youth, and a steady diet of Judy Blume books only reinforced my mammary-related fretting. This is a universal phenomenon, I believe. The earsplitting giggling, talking and shrieking of groups of early adolescent girls may in fact be nature’s way of drowning out the faint, plaintive wail unconsciously emanating from at least two-thirds of them: when? When? Wheeeennn will my breasts arriiiiive?

The answer for me was a) the summer after my sophomore year and b) seemingly overnight. I distinctly recall one of my aunts seeing me in a swimsuit that June and gasping,”Where the hell did those come from?” I didn’t know… and didn’t care. Out of seven female cousins, two of us scored genetically atypical chi-chis (C-cups on our hundred-pound frames – whoop!), and our sympathy for the others was underwhelming. “Sucks to be you, bitches,” just about summed it up. From then on, it was both cannon on board and damn the stragglers. The journey had begun.


Twenty years later, I know some of the home truths about breasts. For example, sheer size, while eye-catching, is never as important as artful display; artful display, while useful, is generally biologically irrelevant since straight guys and potential mates are looking anyway; and while the social, political and gender issues surrounding female anatomy and dress are infinitely complex (more about this later), the lesson learned latest is unfortunately the most important: ALL BOOBS COUNT.

Magazines, television, porn of all varieties swell with images of great big knockers. Women, trained to be hypercritically focused on their appearance, have obviously bought the message hook, line and exploding silicone. And that’s a personal choice – like working or staying home, a choice more readily available to the well-to-do, and not one for me to judge, although of course I am. Judging. Bad implants are an aesthetic travesty: half-cantaloupes glued onto a bony thoracic plain, with the flat valley of fakery giving it all away… but far, far worse is the very real danger of losing a lot of highly enjoyable nerve sensation in order to look like a physiological freak anomaly. Numb nipples? No, no, Nanette!

How I wish I could get inside those frightened, insecure, young (or not so) brains and pound into their amygdalas the simple, simple truth: to 99% of the straight men on this planet, a boob in the hand is worth a million in the imagination. Small, large, perky, floppy, looking slightly to the left or winking jauntily skywards… availability trumps any other rackular characteristic. Add in enthusiasm and NON-NUMB NIPS and in the words of the immortal Theodore Geisel: oh, the places you’ll go!


And having now preached the Gospel of Loving The Gazongas You’ve Got, I must admit that twenty-five years and quite a few pounds later, with the girls all grown up and gravity doing its treacherous best to make me fall over forward whenever I stand up, the thought of timely alterations has occurred to me more than once. It’s tough to watch faithful friends fall away. But the process of hoisting the flags to pre-midlife levels is so invasive, so scarring, so potentially damaging… I don’t know. The experts at Wacoal and Champion keep doing their jobs, structural engineering continues to evolve; hell, I’ll probably keep ’em natural. So what if in another twenty years it takes a winch, a net and a butter paddle to wrestle them into their daily containment devices? That’s what Lycra and Powermesh are for.

Cut them up, scoop them out and stitch them to my ears? Nah. My boobs have been good to me. They deserve better than that.

Next: the care, feeding and practical possibilities of knockers

18 replies »

  1. Ahhh, the inimitable Ann Ivins is SO back. I see a life for this cheeky exposition beyond the ranks of S & R, maybe More magazine? Or even Oprah mag? What a voice you’ve got, chica. I’ve missed you.

  2. Ann, I read this while mid-thought, considering how I was going to deliver some straight-talk to my female univ. students this evening about dressing professionally and the double-edged sword of a plunging neckline! Thank you for your timing and the very large smile I am wearing right now.

    I recall with extreme clarity the day I was finally measured at Victoria Secret and deemed one size larger than the size I’d been wearing all along. Afterall, ‘artful display’ does still require some degree of content or one amazing push-up. I called my mom immediately to deliver the big news. She was so proud.

    I look forward to your future posts and here’s to many more earth-shattering events of the female persuasion.

  3. You’re right, Sam. What am I thinking! She is just so damn good that I fear my insecurity complex has risen from dormancy. It’s that in-your-damn-face wit that I envy so!

  4. Shelley, the double standard of female dress codes is actually a part of part two… somehow, I wound up with “The Dress Code Chat” duty on a regular basis when I was teaching high school. You know: here’s the perfect world, here’s the real world, here’s how we attempt to reconcile the two while retaining at least some semblance of self-respect.

  5. Thanks for touching on the issue of body image. Too many young girls have been destroyed emotionally by the unrealistic, cosmetically altered, airbrushed, retouched images that are presented in the media.

    People need to say, loudly and often, that very few bodies lives up to the unrealistic standards of beauty presented in the media, and THAT’S OKAY. People need to say that the body that you have now will shift and change with the passage of time, and THAT’S OKAY. People need to shout to their children–and most espeically to their girl children–that they are more than what is on the outside, that they are valued for what is on the inside, and THAT’S THE WAY IT’S MEANT TO BE.

    Thanks, Ann, for a thoughtful and honest (and funny) assessment of boobs and the role they play in our society. You’ve made my day.

  6. Ann,

    I’m sure you will not forget to add in the weather-related aspects of dress code/artful display. Fact is, in an Arctic climate, it’s more like an arctic display, which of course is no display at all. Great to read your voice again, you always make me laugh out loud. I hear that’s good for me.

  7. Belinda, that’s why Christina Hendricks is my chosen covergirl; those are real. Not only do they sit, squish and move realistically, she’s got the hips and ass that naturally go with them. And I don’t hear a lot of complaints…

  8. Natural. Natural, Natural, Natural. Hollywood, the fashion industry, and porn has done such a disservice to the adolescent psyche. As a male who grew up prior to the silicone revolution, I revel in the variety of shape, size, position, and bounce of natural breasts. As someone who is no longer carded for my senior discounts, I have the pleasure of being able to appreciate the loveliness of the teen figure and that of the teen’s grandmother. For those of you who acknowledge, use, and are unashamed of the power of your men mesmerizers, Bless You.

  9. Super!

    I remember my profound relief on an early visit to a gynecologist when she asked, during the breast exam, if there were any problem with The Girls. I said, “Yeah, I’m lopsided.” She said, “Relax, everyone is.” “Really?” “Yes, the women in Playboy are all airbrushed.” It was such a big load off my chest.

    BTW, I had a student three ago who came to me about his spring History/English project to discuss his proposed topic for the “Modern Monsters” assignment (a follow-up to “Frankenstein” and other works), “I want to write about breast implants.” He went on to explain that he worked in a gas station and a customer who was a stripper came in and was artificially and obviously huge. He felt it was somehow wrong to be put in the position of perhaps not knowing what was real.. We redirected him slightly towards cosmetic surgery in general, but he did a great project and showed proper respect for “nature.”

  10. Yes. And frankly, even damn near board flat doesn’t matter. I didn’t believe that till I met a young woman who had, well, essentially nothing. And boy did I not care. Spent out entire first hour thinking “dude, you just met her, you can’t just lean over and kiss her.”

    Chemistry, it’s magic.

  11. Great article! Hooray for boobage, no matter what shape it’s in. But natural is best.

    P.S. I just love Christina Hendricks. She’s a real woman who shows girls what a real woman looks like.