Breast cancer runs in my family, discussed by us for many years only in Southern whispers and associated with deep remorse. It also runs among close friends, whose families are less reserved, but who struggle with deep grief.
My family whispers about breast cancer are oxymoronic given the number of books about the women’s health movement that line my bookcases. The women’s health movement ferrets out myths that mainstream science perpetuates about women’s bodies. Sometimes, even today, it’s still hard to distinguish “fact from fiction” in mainstream science without a copy of Our Bodies and Ourselves, though. Is it true that childlessness causes women so many health problems, or is it just a “biology is destiny” research bias that makes people see what they want to see in their data? Is it true that underwire bras cause fluids to build up in the breasts’ duct systems, thereby promoting cancer? By liberating sexuality, the pill in fact placed women under greater pressure to have sex. Ultimately, maybe that little liberatory pill wasn’t so great after all, since it led us back to slut shaming, and since many health insurance companies won’t even cover birth control today, and since the pill increases the risk of “women’s cancers.”
These questions matter when “women’s cancer” runs in your family, and you’re a breasty adolescent girl, or a young adult who doesn’t want kids. So you have to wrestle with all these weighty matters
I alternate between obsessing about boobs and bras or sidestepping the issue by hiding behind frumpy clothes.
Right now I’m obsessing.
I’m obsessing because I’m at the opposite of adolescence (peri-menopause; hormones all over again). I’m researching the cancer-causing HRT, and wearing unfrumpy bras that actually fit because of vociferous encouragement by friends.
Why the heck haven’t Boomer women figured this crap out? They were supposed to resolve these questions.
The sad fact is that I’m grateful for Buzzfeed’s big-boobed confessions, everyone’s candor about “the bra removal happy dance at the end of the day,” and our new-found public confessions of underboob sweat.
Today, I’m grateful for this article and its confession about the problem of large breasts: