Tuning out the catcalls, ignoring the auto-shop calendars and hoping the mechanic isn’t ripping me off, thinking those 80s beer commercials meant beer was for boys, practicing the beach slo-mo run, while the latest swimsuit editions told me sports is for boys and looking sexy in a bikini was my job.
“We must! We must!
We must increase our bust!
The bigger the better
The tighter the sweater
The boys are depending on us!”
(chant for bust-increasing exercises from the 1940s and 1950s)
Breasts. Mammary glands. Areola.
Wearing sweaters to hide all signs of the “training” bra, staring straight ahead in the awkward-yet-fascinating middle-school health class, feeling for breast-cancer, and that first cringe-inducing mammogram (I did NOT know they could get that flat!).
Engorgement. Nipple. Milk ducts. Lactation.
Feeling the internal tug with my babies’ first cries, loving Lydia’s sleepy, squishy “milk-face,” snuggling to peacefully nurse in the wee hours, timing errands “just right,” hiding behind my husband’s frame in the airport, positioning the blanket to hide me/not suffocate my baby, ignoring the judgmental comments from other women in Panera, praying we get through the grocery store without delay, grateful for the comfortable and clean women’s lounge in Nordstrom’s…
Lydia’s squishy “milk-face” post nursing.
Nope, I’m not a damaged soul. These are just snapshots of boob-related experiences, that some might relate with, from way, way in the past and the not-so-long-ago. The composite offers a glimpse of the confusion about boobs.
Boobs. Why are they such a thing? I don’t have the answer and that’s not why I’m here. I am here to cheer. Cheer for Senator Wexton and the universal vote two days ago on SB 1427 making it legal for a woman to breastfeed her baby in any public place in the Commonwealth.
“What’s that?” you say, “can’t they already do that?” Again, nope. Until now, women could only freely nurse their babies in a public place owned by the Commonwealth. So, she could sit on the steps of Virginia’s State Capitol and breastfeed in broad daylight, but anywhere else and she could be asked/told to leave (or worse, to use the bathroom, blech).
Some are asking why this bill, with so many other HUGE PROBLEMS our legislature is facing, would be cause for cheer. I’ll tell you why. Because if something like this had been in place 10 or 20 years ago, then maybe breastfeeding would be normalized. Because then when I nursed Lydia, I wouldn’t have been stared at like a goat with two heads.
Breasts add up to a lot more that ‘boobs’.
Because then boobs wouldn’t be “bad. Bad, but, y’know, “in a good way.” Boobs are hot. Boobs are sexy. Boobs make you think and do “naughty” things. And hey – boobs sell stuff (don’t worry about including her head, that’s not really what we’re looking for here). But don’t dare post a pic of you and your sweet little one. The Nipple Police will get you! (The policy has since been changed, so that’s one more step!)
Sure, I agree. Boobs are hot. Boobs are sexy. I love mine, and so does my husband. But just because I cinch them up into a bustier or bare some cleavage in a low cut blouse, doesn’t mean that’s all they are good for, or all that I am. My boobs are just a part of me, a whole human being who has a face, a name, a birthmark on her side, and a brain in her head that she likes to use.
So go, be free! Nurse your baby at the library, in the park, in the sunshine! Wear a bra! Don’t wear a bra!
And I’ll be right here, cheering you on, no matter what you choose. Because it’s one more step on the road to de-objectifying women, making them count as a person, not just for what their individual parts can offer others. It’s one more step toward equal pay, eliminating “speaking while female,” a day when Lydia’s chances of leading a Fortune 500 company are just as good as her brother’s, and when she won’t be looked at in disgust for simply feeding her baby.