Friday, 21 January 2011

Killer tits.

‘I mean, bloody hell, what’s up with these men?’ I said in a conversation about Katie-Price-admirers over dinner with P, Weeza and Jonny this week. ‘Come on, boys, tell me – a child’s body with enormous tits… is that honestly attractive?’
‘Well I’d never be daft enough to say that your average bloke isn’t partial to a naked woman with her baps out,’ said P. ‘But that look? No. No way. Absolutely not.’
‘I totally agree – she used to be gorgeous but now she’s just a bit of a freakshow,’ added Jonny, as Weeza and I exchanged contented nods at our husbands’ good taste. (Or, depending on the way you see it, exchanged relieved looks at our husbands’ diplomatic answers.)

Before you roll your eyes and reach for the back button, I’m not about to get on my high horse and give you a blog-bashing about the objectification of women and the disgusting nature of using one’s chest as an attention-seeking device. Quite the opposite. Because – despite my insistence that Katie Price looks like a bigger-busted Pete Burns, and despite the fact that the likes of Nuts magazine don’t exactly celebrate women in the way its readers would blindly assure their girlfriends – I’ve never been more in favour of page three than I am today. Because, right now, through my Bullshit-blinkered sight, topless shoots are doing something I’ve found impossible for way too long: equating boobs with fun.

It’s something I got to thinking about after chatting to Tills about tits earlier in the week. Y’know, as you do. Or, at least, as you do when you’re staring down the barrel of a week in which your Mum is having a double mastectomy and you’re having reconstructive surgery on your right’un. Talk about timing, eh? But more of that in a moment. First, tit talk with Tills.
‘When did breasts suddenly become something to worry about?’ I asked.
‘It’s funny,’ she said, ‘I remember a lecturer at university talking about the difference in people’s reactions when they hear the word ‘breast’. She was saying that women under 30 associate breasts with fun and bikinis and sex and stuff… but as soon as we hit 30 we automatically associate them with cancer.’
‘That seems to make sense,’ I admitted. ‘Much as I hate to say it.’
‘The thing is,’ said Tills, ‘I didn’t believe it at the time. I just thought that what she said had to be more about her than the lecture; that she’d recently had a friend diagnosed or something. But now I understand. It’s like all of a sudden they’ve become something to be afraid of.’

I couldn’t help but feel a bit of guilt for being the person responsible for changing the perception of boobs for Tills and my other friends, but I suppose there has to be one in every circle; a giant buzzkill who ensures that nobody looks at their tits in the same way again. And, frankly, it’s something I could have done with being warned about when I was a teenager.

Or could I? Perhaps ignorance really is bliss, and it’s best to see your fun-bags as exactly that for as long as possible, untainted by the Bullshit associations that come later. Because, God knows, once you’ve experienced them as something decidedly not fun, the days of equating what’s beneath your bra with bikinis and sex and stuff are as over as the Roman Empire. Or mixing denims.

It makes me wonder how long ago Mum started thinking of her own bust as something potentially dangerous. And whether she ever took the threat seriously before discovering last year that she carried the same breast-cancer gene that caused havoc for her daughter. I’m sure it’s something we’ll talk about while convalescing together after our respective operations but, whatever her answer reveals, it can’t make me any more proud of her for the decision she’s taken to go ahead with preventative surgery; a decision that must seem so ludicrous in light of a clean bill of health. Because, on the face of it, it’s an utterly ridiculous thing to do to yourself, having your breasts removed in order to limit the number of places The Bullshit could reach. Can you imagine chopping off your legs on the offchance that you might one day lose them? Shaving your head to eliminate the risk of alopecia?

I didn’t react well to the result of Mum’s genetic testing, creating the kind of you-can-mess-with-me-but-don’t-go-near-my-Mum histrionics that everyone concerned could have done without, then immediately begging – you might even say forcing – her to go ahead with whatever surgery was necessary. It wasn’t the right way around any of it – my folks had enough on their plate without their daughter storming in and insisting on the way to deal with things – and I’ll always regret the way I acted. But despite the dramatics and despite the insensitivity, what I’ll never regret are the reasons behind them. Because, to my mind then and now, whatever it takes to prevent Mum from a round with The Bullshit simply MUST be done. But of course that’s easy for me to say. For Mum and Dad, it’s been a heartbreaking decision which will not only be a tough road physically, but will see them confront the same 360-degree relationship with boobs that P and I have experienced. (If, by the way, you’re wondering where P and I nicked the blueprint for an exceptional marriage, look no further than this pair.)

There is undoubtedly a grieving process when your tits are taken by the God of Bullshit – or, in this case, the God of BRCA-2. My head’s method of dealing with it was to press play on a continual movie-style montage of all the fun I’d ever had with my boobs (or, indeed, all the fun someone else had ever had with them): the first Wonderbra I ever bought; the low-cut tops I’d worn; the photos they’d looked good in. And I don’t doubt that Mum will experience a similar thing. It’s a kind thing for your brain to force you into doing, really, remembering all the good times like a lost old friend. Because – like friends, like fun, like good times – boobs should be celebrated. Hence this mammary-mutilated breast-cancer survivor declaring her support for page three: a place where breasts are never associated with cancer.

You see, sometimes, the celebration of all things breast comes from the unlikeliest places – one of which Mum discovered herself this week when catching up with some friends for the last time before her surgery.
‘Only Ian could have got away with this,’ she said of my parents’ neighbour and friend of many years, ‘but when he and Margaret were wishing me good luck with the op, he gave me a big hug on my way out of the door and said "I know it’ll all go okay, Jane, but do you mind if I make a final request before you go in? Can I just have one last feel?"’
‘Cheeky sod! What did you say?’ I asked.
‘Well I told him to bugger off, obviously,’ she laughed. But do you know what, Lis? It was exactly what I needed to hear.’

And that, in a nutshell, is exactly my point. Not to mention the same reason why, as soon as the squashed chicken fillet that I currently call a right breast is healed after reconstruction, I’ll be flaunting my killer tits in as many low-cut, tight-fitting tops that my wardrobe can hold… and then, when she’s reconstructed and ready, encouraging my brilliant, brave Mum to do the same. Because sometimes, when your boobs have been tainted by the bullshit that is The Bullshit, it feels pretty good to have them objectified.

7 comments:

lilianavonk said...

I don't really have much of a comment (not that that's ever stopped me before, of course)--just wanted to send ginormous non-ouchy hugs to both you and Mom. The world is an infinitely better place for having such astounding women like the two of you in it. {{♥}}

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that is (again) written brilliantly. And I admire both of you! And I think your mum is so brave for taking this big step and going ahead with the prevantative surgery.
A question I have asked myself a lot though: What would the situation be the other way round? When your mum has had breast-cancer and you are like 20? You immeadiatly see your breasts in a different light...Would preventative surgery be like a good solution here?

Anyways, wish you both all the best and thanks for sharing so much with us! xx

patrick said...

just a side observation - those maternity type bras - the ones women don't like because of how they look on the washing line...
we men call them "front opening bras"
whereas you women call them "front fastening bras".
that has always made me smile more than Katie sodding Price.

SuzeB said...

Bringing the potential danger lurking beneath our bras to the attention of young women is no bad thing, in my book. Your situation has made me vigilant about checking my chest, and as such, if the bullshit did come my way, the early detection through checking for lumps may mean that I actually get to hang on to them longer.

See, every cloud and all that :o)

All the best for wonderful you and your wonderful mum.

SBxxxxx

suzi said...

Doesn't really matter what words I string together here they cannot ever say what I want them to, but I'll try.
Thank you. Thank you for standing up and for speaking out about something which is often so hidden - the more emotional side of the bullshit.

Massive amounts of respect and good wishes to you and your Mum.

GrĂ¡inne said...

There's nothing much I can add either except to send you more hugs and best wishes to you and your mum. Working in a hospital made me more conscious of the dangers lurking under my top but you were the one who hammered it home that it can happen to any of us. Love you and so thankful for all you do. I'm presuming your mum is equally fabulous! xxx

Freda said...

All good wishes to you and your mum - you are both very brave. I hope all goes well and you can keep from getting too far down.