Thursday, December 18, 2008

blessed are the paps

[being discussed at The Exponent.]

Two dinner-time conversations at family gatherings:

dinner number one; the patriarch of the family loudly bemoans the women in the stake who are dumb enough, deceived enough, lacking-in-the-spirit enough to get those "disgusting breast implants."

dinner number two; the same patriarch, in discussing Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction
loudly scoffs at how stupid Janet must be to think that anyone would want to see her "old ugly shriveled up 40 yr old breasts."

Talk about your lose lose situation.

The way the ladies in my family resolve this dilemma breaks down by generation. The women 40 and over (my mother and aunts) chose to embrace (or endure with relative good humor) "old and shriveled up". In fact, one dear aunt for her 50th birthday gave her boobs 'a gift' by refusing to wear a bra the entire day. The women in their 20's and 30's (my sisters and SILs) are, almost without exception, making arrangements to have augmentation, not giving a darn about some old guy's assessment of their spiritual/mental capacity.

Me? My dirty little secret (well, not now) is that I do harbor a hidden curiosity about what a scalpel and a tiny bit of silicon (or saline) could do for me; I'm not entirely impervious to comments about "old ugly and shriveled up." (And I am much closer to 40 than I am to 20). But... have you SEEN breast implant surgery? I saw one on the Health Channel once a while back and I still get the willies thinking about it- the graphic slicing and dicing of such a sensitive body region (Naomi Wolf refers to it "sexual mutilation"). I'm much more inclined to get a nipple ring thank you very much. Less blood, shorter healing time.

Which makes me wonder: I know the injunction against extra piercings is an official from-the-pulpit edict. But what about breast implants? Have church leaders spoken out against elective cosmetic surgery in a similar way? (I'm too lazy to search this out for myself, so if you have a link, please share it.) I know a lot of LDS women do get augmentation and don't feel conflicted about it at all, whereas a second stud in the ear (don't even mention the nipple)~ No way!

But mostly I just wonder what it is that goes on inside the head of that dear patriarch, the beloved head of my family, when he makes such comments as the aforementioned ones. The underlying sentiment in both statements are ones of disgust, an abhorrence for a woman's breasts (or at least for breasts that aren't naturally young and plump). Maybe he really is disgusted by breasts. Or perhaps it is his way of trying to circumvent his own normal (natural man?) response to women's breasts, to be above any perceived sexual impurity by taking an internalized guilt and projected it outward as a defense? I don't know.

It is all just a mess of mixed messages.


Natalie said...

It goes against the feminist in me. Once you get the augmentation, you lose a lot of the stimulus, thus making yourself more of a sex object to men.

I don't know what the church says on it -- I don't know if you'd be restored with them or not either.

haha, tell that to the patriarch!

G said...

yeah... that's why it's my guilty little secret~ how can I possibly even consider?!?
and i could never tell ANYONE, oh what my feminist friends would think!!!

that's how the convo goes in my head.

really... it's not a consideration. just a dark little curiosity.

hmmm, the resurection and cosmetic surgery, now that's a interesting dinnertime topic. :)

JohnR said...

To echo the first comment on this post at Exponent, I think society has a Madonna/Whore complex (which you summed up in your lose-lose description). What strikes me is that this superficiality is so deeply embedded in a religious culture that glorifies the internal in most of its teachings--spirituality, nurturing, righteousness, sacrifice.

Numismatist Facts said...

I also hope someone has the answer to the church/augmentation question.

My older sister who turned 58 today had two complete facelifts by the time she was 52. I know what she paid for these procedures and I still consider it to be borderline obscene. But then that is the difference between us. I just purchased a camera for an amount of money that she would probably think is equally obscene.

I can buy a lot of padded bras for the price of a nice set of boobs. I love going braless even though nature has taken it's toll and they point straight down. Dh still likes them and that's all that counts.

Your dinner conversations sound wildly entertaining!

G said...

"Your dinner conversations sound wildly entertaining!"

you have NO idea...
(I love my fam)

emily said...

"Or perhaps it is his way of trying to circumvent his own normal (natural man?) response to women's breasts, to be above any perceived sexual impurity by taking an internalized guilt and projected it outward as a defense?"

I TRULY believe it is THIS one. Sexual discomfort translating to guilt translating to defensiveness and ugliness.


angryyoungwoman said...

My sister (who wears a bra even to bed) has said to me a few times when I've been braless (because I've been in my pajamas) "I don't know how you can let them flop around like that," or other derisive comments about my breasts sagging. I'm 28, I've never nursed, never even had kids. My breasts are big, but certainly not saggy. They are one thing that I think is a good feature on me, but my sis consistently tries to shame me for them if they aren't bound up in a bra--if they are somehow "out of control."

Your post just reminded me of that. Families are so weird.

Bored in Vernal said...

Well, G, since no one has said it yet, I feel it is my duty. You have beautiful breasts just the way they are. Enjoy.

G said...

hahahaha! Thank you, biv :)

emily~ I agree.

ayw, there I a poem that about sums this perfectly (something about how her boobs are in trouble for 'hanging around') I'll see if I can find it and post it as a follow up.
(and yes, families are so weird)

Eris said...

I have never understood the drive to augment - probably because I have lived cursed with big'uns for three decades.

Anyway, I have no idea about the church's official stance on plastic surgery but I do find it to be the height of vanity, and worldliness...

And I know that attitude is the height of bitchy judgmentalness... sorry.

Allie said...

I'm small-chested, and I've nursed 3 children (I think they get smaller every time- which helps, kind of, with avoiding major sagging issues.

I joke with well-endowed friends that we should go in for a transfer surgery.

I think the church generally teaches that we need to be happy with what we have. Big boobs aren't a requirement for the celestial kingdom. :)

I figure when I'm resurrected, I'll be perfect, so I'll just wait until then.

For now, lightly padded bras are sufficient for me to feel confident about myself in that regard.

Chandelle said...

This is so interesting to me because I would seriously trade my left ovary for teensy weensy breasts. I love boyish girl bodies and it's just never gonna happen for me. I would love to be able to go without a bra because from an anti-patriarchy standpoint, I'm opposed to them, but from the standpoint of comfort, I usually wear one even to bed (a light one, no underwire, but a bra nonetheless). These small dichotomies clutter my existence, ya know?

I've tried to be happy with what I have, to be a "good feminist," and I've made certain strides with externalities like makeup and shaving, but inside I still hate my body and I probably always will. And I think this is true for most of us. We always want what we can't have. I have the same joke about "transfer surgery" with most of my small-breasted friends.