Do you remember those fifth grade classes about demystifying the body’s path to adulthood? You know, those lectures about hormones and tampons and awkwardness. During the lesson on breast development, my teacher suggested that girls buy a bra when gym class became uncomfortable. She also explained that some boys grow breasts; this, however, wasn’t cause for any concern (or bra). My flat-chested self was confused. If a trampoline will hurt my boobs, why won’t it hurt my chubby little brother’s? My fat neighbor mows his lawn topless—an experience that would be better for everybody with even the tiniest bra for coverage.
I blame this precocity on my upbringing. I was raised in a naked house—we weren’t nudists, but it wasn’t uncommon to see my brother commando in the kitchen or my hippie parents by the pool wearing only sunscreen. The only consequence of this lifestyle was that my younger self seldom understood why I needed certain clothes in public. If my brother doesn’t have to wear a swimsuit top, why do I? Our chests are the same! His nipples even get purple when he’s cold and mine don’t. My über-liberal, Franco-American mother affirmed that yes, my nipples were nice, so nice in fact that certain Republicans would be resentful if I went topless at the beach. But only in America, because Europeans are sophisticated and wearing a bikini top on a French beach would be pas nécessaire, duh.
My fascination with the male-female nipple disparity has grown since I’ve moved to the South. Earlier this year, the understandably popular Rep. Rayne Brown sponsored House Bill 34 to clarify North Carolina’s law on indecent exposure. The crucial clarification was the addition of this sentence: “The term ‘private parts’ means external organs of sex and of excretion, including the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast.” I don’t know about y’all, but I certainly sleep better knowing that we have a politician who finds the female nipple so deeply offensive that she must take immediate action. I’ve heard rumors that her next (mis)step is to change the state slogan to “North Carolina: Our politicians can prioritize.”
So why are female nipples so taboo? How can my male neighbor let his 42DDDs out to play whenever he pleases, but I can be jailed for tanning my tiny tatas in public? Well, women’s boobs, in addition to their mystical excretion powers, have these attracting, arousing abilities that moobs lack. “Wow, I’m so turned on by that guy’s huge tits,” said no one, ever. Anything associated with sexual attraction must be thoroughly concealed until you’re alone in your bedroom in the dark with your husband. Sure, you HAVE to breastfeed your children, but also hide boobs from them until they’re married (or go on the Internet).
Clearly this taboo-ness isn’t without consequence. If you’ve ever been a female wearing a thin (or no) bra on a chilly day, you know how awesome it feels when creepy men ogle you! Bras annoy me, but I’d usually rather deal with them than with the unwanted attention their absence causes. Anyone remember Anne Hathaway’s speech at the last Academy Awards? Probably not, because you were too fixated on her obvious braless-ness and the rapidly trending #HathawayNipples.
Now, more about bras. A recent French study claims that bras don’t benefit breasts; surprisingly, prolonged wear hinders the muscle development that prevents sagging. Granted, the average French woman doesn’t wear a 42DDD and, so, going braless probably won’t cause the back pain or bystander injuries often associated with larger cup sizes. But still, those 1960s bra burners were on to something; I’m sure their current boobs are perkier as a result.
On a serious note, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s “Pinktober,” otherwise known as the commercialization of a deadly disease. Fun fact: Breast cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the U.S.—behind skin, lung and prostate—but it raises the most money. Did you know that October is also liver cancer awareness month? Neither did I, because livers aren’t sexy, and green ribbons aren’t trendy. Think about it: The same sexual fixation and “indecency” that makes creepy men ogle at boobs is why breast cancer sells so well, and that’s f---ed up. This disease is a great opportunity for corporations to boost their profits each month, but that’s about it. Despite monstrous fundraising efforts to save the tatas, cancer rates haven’t budged in a decade. I lost my mother to breast cancer several years ago and am still searching for an organization I’d trust with a donation. Her disease made her despise the color pink; I couldn’t even eat a Yoplait without a lecture and a scolding. “All that stupid pink lid signifies is a big bonus for the manipulative misogynists at some yogurt company; go spit that out.” Did I mention how sassy and awesome she was?
OK, Duke women, before it gets cold out: Take off that bra and talk about them nipples—boobs, tits, whatever. And Duke men: Don’t be weird about it. Breasts are sexy, awesome and inoffensive and deserve to be treated as such. Let’s all embrace our inner Lena Dunham for a change. Maybe we can even get Rep. Brown to join the party? I know my mom would love it.
Chelsea Sawicki is a Trinity senior. Her column is part of the weekly Socialites feature and runs every other Wednesday. Send Chelsea a message on Twitter @ChelsTweetzz.