I never planned to write a book about breasts.
I can barely say that word out loud. It conjures up so many serious things. Go ahead and google it – you’ll see. Boobs, on the other hand, is a lot more fun. Google that word and you get 919,000,000 hits, mostly porn, in .38 seconds. That’s only a little slower than the speed at which a man looks at a women’s chest when she enters the room. I’m not kidding, scientists have measured that to be .2 seconds. And it’s not like we don’t know it. It’s biological imperative, we say, to help human beings reproduce.
Except, size doesn’t matter when it comes to feeding babies. And we are the only species that has fully developed breasts long after they can turn blood into milk. Breast augmentation is the number one elective surgery in America. It’s also the reason behind a zillion desperate diary entries of seventh grade girls.
I know, because I was one of them.
None of this mattered to me until a particular date night a few years ago. I got out of the shower, looked in the mirror, and saw that my boobs were crooked. After recovering from a hellish period of breast cancer treatments, I was grateful to be alive. But that didn’t stop me from being furious. My boobs had been flat and full, suckled and saggy, radiated and reconstructed. They’ve affected my identity at every age. For once, couldn’t they just be perfect?
My husband accused me of being obsessed.
At first, I denied it. That sounded so shallow. Then a smarty-pants comic on TV made a boob joke. I got angry all over again. So much for date night.
He was right, I’m obsessed. But I don’t think I’m alone.
And I needed to know why. I searched for a story that connects all the dots, but I couldn’t find one.
That’s why I wrote this book.
A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me… and You is a striptease that bares my breasts on the rollercoaster ride from size AA to DDD. I’m both excited and terrified. But with this blend of memoir, reportage and cultural commentary, the state of my boobs reveals a larger story about the reality of living in a woman’s body. Naturally, this exposes forces that affect both men and women. Like a peek-a-boo bra, powerful issues are hiding in plain sight.
PS. What do you think of the cover?