Growing Up Like Skipper: On Breasts & Objectification

My first Barbie was a Growing Up Skipper doll. Skipper is Barbie’s younger sister.

A gift from one of my aunts during the 1970’s, my Skipper doll wasn’t an ordinary doll. Living up to her name, she could “grow” from girl to young woman in an instant. All you had to do was take her arms and wind them forward in a circular motion. Not only would she grow taller but her bust would get bigger. Wind her arms in the opposite direction and all of her would shrink back to original size.

At age 6, all I knew was that I had a “2-for-1” doll. Growing Up Skipper even came with an extra outfit for her older self to wear, and she had a tank top that doubled as a bathing suit.  Now, when I look back I am able to see how this doll was sexualized—just like when people prematurely endow girls with certain attributes and qualities so that they seem sexier and more mature.

My own boobs grew pretty quickly when I turned 13. It seemed like one moment my chest was flat and then within the year my mom and I were making multiple trips to Mervyn’s so we could replace the bras I rapidly outgrew.

My relatives were bemused at my physical transformation. While my boy cousins teased me mercilessly— “Hi Boobsie Queen!”— my titas (Filipina aunts) would talk about my breasts. “I don’t remember my boobs growing that fast,” said Tita X, as she and my other titas sat around shuffling mah-jongg tiles back and forth over a card table.

In middle school, CR and BW, two of the most popular boys, would comment on my breasts every chance they got. “Watch those boobs bounce!” CR once yelled out, as I ran from recess back to the classroom. I stopped, then slowed my pace to a walk—unsure whether I’d done something to elicit this attention and feeling like it was in part my chest’s fault.

I also blamed my breasts for adding weight to my body—I so wanted to be skinny, not curvy. I even tried weighing my boobs once when I was 14, lifting the scale onto the bathroom counter and attempting to pile them on as if they were melons. For a while after that, I decided that my “breast weight” shouldn’t count, and I’d knock off several pounds whenever I told anyone what I weighed.

When you have breasts that are larger than “average” (whatever that really means) even people you don’t know—males, in particular—automatically assume they have permission to comment on your boobs—“Nice tits! BIG BREASTED! Playboy-like, even”—and can touch them just because they feel like it.

There are the sporadic “feel-ups” that can happen anywhere—like at the video arcade during the 80’s when the guy playing Pac-Man next to me suddenly got too close, his hand brushing against the side of my chest in such a way that I couldn’t exactly call him on it. What if he tells me it was just an accident?

Then, there was that “checkup” by my doctor when the nurse stepped out of the room for just a few moments.  Rather than slightly lifting up my medical gown to feel my abdominal area, he pulled it up over my bare chest, his eyes grazing over my upper body while he told me to breathe.  He may not have physically touched my breasts but I walked away from that visit feeling violated.

Because of the way my body looked, some of my classmates thought I was sexually experienced even though I’d never been kissed yet. My date, whom I’d asked to a Sadie Hawkins Dance, stayed a polite arm’s length away from me all night, later explaining, “Girls like you probably want more than I’m ready to give.” I’d just been hoping that maybe he would hold my hand.

At a party during my twenties, I ended up being one of a few people to lose a card game. Our penalty was that we had to jump into the pool in our underwear. I figured that this really wasn’t any different from wearing a bikini, so I was surprised when, as I took off my clothes and stood there in bra and underwear, the guys around me started cheering, the sound of their beer bottles clinking together to toast me… or, rather, the sight of my breasts.

Not sure what to do, I just laughed and said, “Thank you!?” I mean, applause is always a compliment, right? Right?  Later, when one of the guys that I hardly knew came over to say goodbye, he hugged me, his chest lingering too long and tight against my own even as he kept one arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders.  

Unlike Growing Up Skipper dolls, real women don’t have arms that turn back the aging process, and their boobs, like the rest of their bodies, change as they grow older.  At some point naturally bigger breasts lose their “perkiness” and whatever perceived social advantages having big boobs supposedly come with get taken away. Instead, you are the recipient of comments like, “Ever thought of a breast lift?” Or, “You must be wearing a push-up bra!” And then you feel bad for feeling bad that your breasts, like the rest of you, are getting older.

What would my experience of my breasts have been like if they hadn’t been objectified so much?  I will never know. Then again, why not start relating to them differently now?

I decided to sit front of my mirror and really see my breasts: Is it okay I’m even doing this? As if looking at my own chest was somehow tawdry.

Cue the voice inside my head: I’m checking myself out… no I’m not… so what if I am…  this isn’t that! Followed by the realization that despite having had breasts all my life, I’d never really seen them.

Sure, I’d looked at my boobs before—scrutinized them even, to try and figure out what everyone else was fussing about—but to actually see them for their own sake, the way you would something or someone you want to know personally—never. I didn’t even know they were slightly asymmetrical. And then, more thoughts and observations: Is that a mole right there? I wonder if my boobs resemble my grandmother’s? Thank goodness they are healthy!  I think I love them… and on and on.

It was as if by seeing them directly, rather than through the filter of someone else’s gaze or perception, I was able to have my own experience of my boobs that was outside the construct of objectification that they had been imprisoned in for so long.

These are my breasts—they are not sex objects that happen to be attached to my body. They are part of my body, part of me.

Related Blog Posts:

I Think I Found My Thigh Gap 

Me and My Belly: A Love/Hate Story 

The Power of the Period


165 Comments on “Growing Up Like Skipper: On Breasts & Objectification”

  1. Your point of view is an interesting one, especially from my side of the fence where i always envied women with large breasts. It never occurred to me that it could be problematic, especially since in North America where breast augmentation is almost natural…even among teenagers.
    I’m glad that your accepting your body and honoring all of it and setting yourself free.
    I hope this post reaches more girls and women of all ages, women who think their breasts are too large or wish their breasts were larger.
    We women certainly do suffer from poor body image, don’t we?

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Carol! It is definitely a double edge experience. And yes- I really hope that this body self-hating starts to shift more across the board. I am loving that now there are so many women getting out there demanding that the culture change and challenging all of us to liberate our bodies by really seeing them as they are.

  2. stagebhsec says:

    Wow, this post is really relevant to the discussion we had at our high school feminist club meeting today. We talked a lot about what the line is between owning and loving your body for yourself (and presenting it the way you think it looks best) and enjoying your body as part of self-objectification. What you’re describing — being able to love your body personally and in a way that’s unaffected for other peoples’ perceptions — is such an important and complicated thing to achieve. Really interesting post, I’ll definitely share it with our club members!

    • diahannreyes says:

      I definitely would be interested to know more about your club’s thoughts on that line that you talk about.. “enjoying your body as part of self-objectification” – that’s a powerful observation. Thinking about it, I feel that sometimes it can be hard for the self to distinguish if that is what is going on or the other w”owning and loving your body for yourself (and presenting it the way you think it looks best.” They can both look so similar on the surface.

  3. KP says:

    Wow. Reading this last night was a moment of synchronicity. My sophomores are reading Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House and I told them about Skipper, and they couldn’t believe that that toy had actually existed. Thanks for sharing your poignant stories, which gave me pause. I’ve recently I’ve been thinking about them in the context of how much of my femininity is defined by my breasts. I remember reading about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy: my first thought was wow — she’s so brave and my second thought was how much of my own sense of sensuality and sexuality would be affected if I “lost” my breasts — either through a mastectomy or breastfeeding or gaining/losing significant weight.

    • diahannreyes says:

      You were telling them about Growing Up Skipper!? Wow. What are the odds? I am loving your reading list.

      I can definitely relate to everything you say about your breasts in regards to my own. There is so much of a charge around them.. and what they supposedly mean/how this makes us feel/doesn’t make us feel about ourselves- and easy to sort of take it all as the way it is rather than how all of us are conditioned. It’s a definite internal struggle.

      Btw- I did A Doll’s House in scene study class… I loved getting to play this character.. a character that typically I would not be able to play professionally because of my actual ethnicity… but that’s a whole other story of its own.

  4. BroadBlogs says:

    What a powerful story! It covers so many angles. Women becoming sexualized without their consent, coming to love your body, seeing the downside of something that so many envy. Thank you for posting this.

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome, Georgia.

      It’s really interesting… in the telling/writing of this, I didn’t even think I was highlighting the downside… it was just to me “the norm” and so I’ve really been struck that a few people have commented similarly. Makes one wonder how much we get desensitized to that it just starts to feel like par for the course.

  5. Very well written!

    xoxo
    Olena

  6. HeartBound says:

    It’s so interesting how the male collective (at least in western patriarchal societies) focus so intently on the sexual nature of breasts rather than, say, the life-giving/maternal nature of them. This isn’t surprising for so many obvious reasons, but one reason I suspect has to do with the reality that breasts symbolise an innate power that women have and men don’t – the miraculous ability to sustain another life. Great post Diahann!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Cat! Yes- that’s a huge power that is only from and of the feminine… evidence of just one of the many innate to the female body. And to think.. without this life sustaining ability that we possess we as a civilization populating this planet wouldn’t exist.

  7. I’ve never heard of the Skipper doll. I did have one Barbie, but I lost her shortly after getting her. As far as your experience with breasts, mine couldn’t have been more different than yours. I’m one of those girls who never developed. I always thought that this was okay on super skinny girls, but I wasn’t one of those either. Here’s an example of my experience. At my wedding I had three people (I kid you not!) tell me to stuff my bra with tissues. I cried in the bathroom for 10 minutes and almost couldn’t go through with the wedding. I’m more comfortable with who I am now, but I still wonder what life would have been like with breasts. Celeste 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Wow Celeste- I would have been really upset too. It is so crazy how society/other people can make us feel about our bodies-irregardless of what shape/size they are. (I envied a couple of my female cousins who had smaller breasts .) I’m glad we are both comfortable more comfortable with ourselves now.. something that I think only comes with age!

  8. HUH. Skipper, eh? You’re absolutely right. You suffered verbal (and mental) feel-ups. The dr pisses me off! To renounce the integrity and trust placed in his hands by the profession and patients. Here’s the other side to this alluded to in some of the comments, related to the cattiness of your female journalist colleagues: the jealousy of other women. A woman finds herself pressed between the insecurity of other women and the selfish lust of men. Yes, difficult to JUST BE (and be content), esp as a teen.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Diana. I’m really finding that there seems to be a “grass is always greener” wondering on both sides of the equation- women with bigger breasts wishing their breasts were smaller and vice versa that can definitely cause jealousy on either end. Objectification of breasts seems like yet another way to separate women from each other. Hopefully the world is changing so that eventually girls will have to struggle with this less.

  9. jethag says:

    I loved reading this. It seems like women are never happy our bodies. Whereas men usually think they look better than they actually do. But men didn’t grow up with expanding Skipper dolls. In any case, I love your honesty and the way you genuinely deal head-on with a complicated subject.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you so much! It really is astounding how much most women feel that their bodies aren’t enough- regardless of size, shape, or appearance. Sounds like you, too, have some interesting stories of your own to tell. I love that – “perpetual jet lag”- that s what I used to call working the graveyard shift as a journalist. 🙂

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  11. aka gringita says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I am also rather well-endowed and my smaller-sized girlfriends look with envy, not understanding all the downsides: the leering;the assumptions that (some) men naturally have that curves=experience or even curves=sluttiness; the way that the outfit that looks cute on them looks skanky on me; the backaches; the sagging. And of course, the difficulty that every woman seems to have, to accept herself and her body for what it is.

    Thanks again.

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome! Thank you, too, for sharing. I’m just finding out now how so many of us have had similar experiences- and it’s really amazing to feel like “wow, it’s more universal than we think, except that no one really talks about it. Who knew?”

  12. erupprecht says:

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! A really great post — I showed it to my wife who vividly recalled the doll and how weird it was.

  13. Going through these issues as we speak with our 11 year old, thank you !

  14. Shreya says:

    Excellent point of view dear ! thanks for sharing with us your awesome thoughts dear
    xoxo

  15. fireandair says:

    ” … he hugged me, his chest lingering too long and tight against my own, even as he kept one arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders.”

    I bet his girlfriend hated YOU for his behavior, too … 😦

    I was never busty, but I did fit every other general category for attractiveness (slightly still do, but at 47, I’m feeling that burden finally lifting). When I hear women complaining that “studies show” that attractive women have it made, I just shake my head. As I approach 50, my life gets easier with every passing day, every grey hair, every laugh line. I’m sick of being The Enemy on sight, and it’s incredible to finally be talked to like a human being.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I hope the world is really changing and one day women won’t have to wait until after they pass 40 to be considered as a total person/human being. It’s really ironic sometimes that women have the double burden of being objectified blamed for it as well – or like you said, as if attractive women “have it made” when that is not necessarily the case.

      • fireandair says:

        It’s a bit like being 7′ tall. If you want to be a basketball player, great. If you want to be an astronaut, not so much. IME, if you want to be an actress or a trophy wife, being very attractive is an asset. In every other instance, it’s a liability. People get really annoyed when this is pointed out, though.

        • diahannreyes says:

          This makes me think then that it is even more important to point out then because there is nothing good about objectifying a woman or any part of her body- no matter how it seems on the surface and everyone needs to know that- men and women alike!

  16. Heather says:

    I was made fun of for developing late, but my girls eventually showed up. It’s really tough to be caught between what men sexualize and what makes us happy. And then there are all the other women out there. You’re so small you’re lucky! You’re so flat you’re lucky! But the thing is, they never stay the same. If you work out more, you get muscle there, and no fat. If you work out less, that muscle turns to fat. Gravity changes them. Pregnancy and childbirth affect them. Water and sodium affect them. They are every-changing, and we just have to be happy with them.

    • diahannreyes says:

      I agree, Heather-finding that balance can be a challenge- and then the mixed messages that can make our female psyches and self-esteem spin. You are so right- our breasts are always changing- I love your observations- and loving them (and ourselves) just as we are really is the key. So challenging but I am more and more sure that is its own powerful female liberation. Thank you for sharing your experience, too!

  17. I enjoyed reading your post. As a woman with a large bust, I have had similar experiences. Growing up, I would avoid wearing certain clothing because I felt like a glorified “milk truck”. I was ashamed of my body and would hide it. I even weighed them using a food scale similar to your story, ha ha. It wasn’t until I had our son that I became very aware and proud of them. They gave our child nourishment and provided him a sense of “home”. They were and will continue to be my glorious assets!

  18. In my youth, I was teased for having an A cup. My daughter was horrified when she developed D cups in middle school. She is finally making peace with her breasts. I always wanted bigger boobs, and she wanted smaller ones. Go figure. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you! I’m really thrilled 🙂 🙂

      It’s amazing to hear back from so many women about their own stories. I’m really discovering that whether a woman has big or small breasts, there more often than not was a struggle – some combination of self-dissatisfaction and wondering if the grass is greener. I too wanted smaller boobs- while some of my female relatives wanted breasts like mine.

  19. ladiesewphia says:

    As a breast feeding mother, breasts are sexualized more than I would even like to think about. I can’t even nurse comfortably in public for fear of criticism. Even though the only purpose is to nourish our young. That is another huge can of worms, though. 😉

    • diahannreyes says:

      Hi Katie, It’s amazing to me- reading everyone’s shares that our relationship (and society’s) relationship with the female breast is so much more complex than we typically talk about.. btw- I love your daughter’s name, Sophia- the Goddess of Wisdom!

  20. purlgamer says:

    I had kind of a similar experience. I was teased for being flat at 12 but wearing minimizers by 15. I taught swimming lessons to young kids who informed me I had big boobies, but it was their staring parents that made me feel so uncomfortable. I got called a slut before I had even kissed a boy. I then wore men’s clothes through high school to hide from myself and the gaze of others. In my twenties, I had those lingering hugs from men, and dismissive looks from women (who assumed I was fake and/or shouldn’t be complaining). I ended up in clothes that were too tight or just plain huge. I couldn’t find undergarments, and my friends shopped at mall stores whose augmented models made me feel like even more of a freak. Luckily I discovered UK based bra brands that actually believed my body existed. Fans of Curvy Kate, Cleo and Freya even blogged about their experiences (Invest in Your Chest, Curvy Wordy, Fuller Figure Fuller Bust), and inspired me to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m now in my thirties, and when I work out, put on red lipstick, or a gorgeous dress or bra, it is because I feel beautiful doing so. We women are conditioned to be so concerned with the looks of others and how ours stacks up that it can be impossible to really see and believe in our own beauty. Thanks for sharing how you found yours!!!

    • diahannreyes says:

      I am going to have to check out the brands you suggested. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience, too- I really am astounded at how so many of us shared such similar experiences- and that it seems that whether a woman has large or small breasts, there always seems to be some dilemma along the lines of either they are too big or too small. The self-acceptance and love of the female breasts, if it does come, seems to arrive later. Congrats to you, too, for claiming your bodacious beautiful self!

  21. Thanks for this article that is very interesting and still funny! I have big breasts, too (D or E cups), and I’ve always liked it. I still remember my teen years in Finland in the late 80s, how cool! I used to travel a lot, and I remember some very philosophical conversations with some interesting men, who had been only interested in my breasts in the first place. Later I went to finish my studies in France, and it was even more fun, as really big boobs are not common in France 🙂

    I’ve also had some negative experiences. The worst was a sexual assault by two doctors in a maternity ward here in France. In my blog, I tell about my life as a mother of four young kids, and my impressions of the legal system here. The most disturbing, but also the funniest moment was when I saw the doctor’s defense attorney: she was a small youg woman with a flat chest, no breasts at all! I struggled not to laugh out loud during the court hearing!

  22. Really good article. I’ve been lucky, I suppose, in that I find my breasts neither too big nor too small. But for the longest time — ironically, when I was anorexic — I thought that they were pathetically tiny. I’ve filled out a lot more since then, and I will say, I am happy with my body. I may not be the most gorgeous woman out there, but confidence is a big part of how you look, too!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you. That’s great you’ve grown to love your body! I am learning, from all the feedback, that so many women-regardless of their breast size, have at one point worried that their boobs should be more or less. And I agree -confidence and self- love– priceless.

  23. I’d like to add that our way of seeing the world and other people depends very much about the experiences we had in our teen years. I mean, a busty and a skinny young woman are both very attractive in their own particular way, and can have a lot of success among men, but they hear totally different compliments from totally different men. So their way of seeing the male-female relationship is very different from the beginning. This is one of the reasons why I’m not very fond of “Mars and Venus” -type of literature, that tends to represent all women as always talking and reacting the same way.

    Now, as for busty women, I think we are used to being seen as sexually (very) active, and it makes us somehow threatening, too. I think we are maybe less racist than the average, as we have to face everyday prejudice. We can relate more easily to people that look different. Besides, I think we share a common experience with all the teasing and gazing, no matter the social or ethnic background. Here in France, I know some African and Arab women who have amazingly similar experiences, though in a very different cultural context.

    I like your blog, and I like all your comments, too!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you! And thanks for sharing your stories, too. Sounds like you are aware of the complexities involved. That is horrible what happened to you in France. It must have been really empowering to fight back through the courts.

  24. From someone who had breast reduction surgery the day she turned 18, I am SOOOO thankful to have found you! Your skillful writing candor really helps a lot of us out here. Even when the surgeon took off “the amount he considered to be right for my body type” I still cried and cried after I awoke in the recovery room and reached under my hospital gown to feel….breasts! I wanted them gone. Completely. For all the anguish they caused me. I won’t go into my past breast traumas here, (I see many of your readers already left their own harsh details) but let me just say that I pray daily for my ten-year-old daughter to have inherited her father’s side of the family gene pool so she won’t become a Circus Side-Show freak when she’s 13. Thank you again. You have a steadfast follower.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you so much, Debra, for what you said about my writing. And also, thank you for your personal sharing, about you, your breasts, and your daughter, which really moved me. I am really amazed at all the personal reveals from different readers that has come out of this post. It seems like so many woman have had unique yet similar experiences but this isn’t something we talk with each other. I am glad that this dialog is happening!

      • Hi again – – It’s interesting that you got Debra since that’s my middle name, but that had to have been a coincidence? Anyhow it’s Stephanie and I just wanted to add (before I went off on my breast hatred tangent earlier) that I had also read your piece “I Forgot to Show Up for Date Night” and just love the way you employ what I term, “the twist beginning.” The title and second sentence reeled me in thinking incredulously, “Who could literally forget a date? A dentist appt, yes. But a date? And then it was ingenious how quickly that title transitioned into being figurative with so much more significance. I really admire that talent.

        • diahannreyes says:

          Hi Stephanie! Sorry about that- I went on your blog to find out more about you and I guess I grabbed your middle name instead of your first.

          Thank you about reading my Date Night piece as well and for sharing with me your experience of the the story. It feels wonderful to be read, received, and understood! That was a very powerful experience for me in that I never forgot to show up for another date night again.

          • Ah – – I thought it was just some random confusion and then magically you had my middle name! But I do see now that I listed my middle name in the “about me section.” Interesting that I would do that inadvertently, given that I really dislike the name “Debra.” Next thing you know, I’ll be accidentally showcasing my bosoms. Nope! Breast assured that won’t happen. (sorry, the late hour and I’m getting a bit punchy but I do find humor quells my body hatred at times.) Have a great night and again, so nice to find such a quality blog!

  25. Anonymous says:

    How very insulting. This post is like a rich white male proclaiming all the downsides of being so privileged. Cry me a river, please.
    This post is also reminiscent of the first world problem meme. Please learn to be compassionate instead of downplaying your privilege. It feels condescending. And I’m not being rude, just honest.

    • diahannreyes says:

      To be honest, in writing this post my intention was to just share my experience- not negative/positive, just what happened to me. This post is about objectification of the breasts. Thanks for reading.

    • Wow. Compassion, to most people, means making space for EVERYONE to give voice to, and heal from, their experiences. Trivializing her experience by saying “someone else has it worse” is not compassion. There’s always going to be someone who “has it worse” and if this is how you approach personal stories, you’ll learn nothing from them.

  26. OMG I can so relate! I’m a 40DDD and i developed in 6th grade and all my life have felt like my breasts have been a separate entity. I enjoyed it in my 20’s but now in my 30’s I try to minimize the focus to them and find it hard to find tops that fit. So thank you for talking about this 🙂

    • diahannreyes says:

      🙂 Seeing all the responses, including yours, I am glad I talked about them too. Yes- it’s been really powerful to see them as part of the total me.. pretty inner transformative!

      • Im always amazed when ppl are telling me they are jealous. I’m like imagine having 20 lbs strapped to your chest and having to move it around. its hard to get people to realize that there is a person behind them and that no, big breasts dont equate into more sexually promiscuous

  27. sassyjax says:

    This was a great post! I’m currently in college and have larger boobs than all of my friends. My guy friends (especially while inebriated) always call me out for my cup size and sometimes hug me longer than necessary. My one friend tries to grab them. It sounds like their violating me, but it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. I do similar things to them. The point is that I understand everything in your post, and it’s happened to me too. I’ve gotten cat calls from guys when out at a bar or walking home. They’re just boobs. Sacks of fat. Nothing special.

    Thank you so much for an interesting and great take on having breasts!

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome. It is astounding to me how much this post is resonating for so many women and that so many of us have had similar experiences. Thank you for sharing yours.

      You know, not too long ago a guy I know tried to touch my breasts and I told him he should know that he doesn’t have permission to touch my body just because we know each other. I think he was really surprised- maybe expected me to laugh or playfully slap him.

  28. Minaa B says:

    Interesting on so many levels. I am happy that you have learned to embrace your body, I was the girl who always envied those who made it past the B category in bra’s since I never thought I’d get out of the A zone. Its nice to hear the perspective of someone who actually did. This post is also interesting on a cultural level as well, women in my culture would normally have to replace the word “breast” with “ass” in a post like this. It’s crazy! But thanks for a good read!

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome, Minaa! I’m really getting from reading everyone’s comments that a lot of women, regardless of the size of their breasts, have had to deal with insecurities regarding this part of their body. You saying that this post could apply to the “ass” as well makes me realize how truly across the female body (and its many parts) this problem of objectification is.

  29. Outlier Babe says:

    This was the best description yet of how males so often feel ownership over our bodies. I just want to point out that this is true regardless of breast size. I am one of three sisters; we all have different breast sizes–small to quite large–and we all were ogled and “accidentally” (or shamelessly) groped by adult men, including friends of our parents, through our preteen and teen years.

    Thank you for a wonderful post. I will pass it on.

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome. Please do share- it really seems to be resonating for a lot of women and I’m really humbled by the personal sharings going on here. It makes me even more certain that it is so important that we share our stories.. if, at the very least, to know we are not the only ones. Also, that so many of us were inappropriately touched because we have breasts- that is a big problem and one that should be acknowledged so it stops!

  30. What a well-written and interesting piece! I’m so lucky to have you as a friend as I would love to write as well as you do one day! Thank you for always writing pieces that empower women. ❤

  31. Well, without a doubt I grew up as Skipper 1, and well, pretty much stayed there forever. It is interesting to hear about life on the other side of the fence. Congratulations on the fresh press Diahann, that’s really wonderful to see.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Robyn! I’m really happy about the FP. And it’s really been eye opening to hear about the experiences of women on both sides of the fence through everyone’s sharings. That’s been profound and amazing, too.

  32. ky5chan says:

    Reblogged this on King and commented:
    Well-written and interesting piece!

  33. Robin says:

    I can so relate. I have detested being chesty since they developed too. They were annoying when you played sports. Bras were always unattractive. Sweaters never looked good on me. They always made me feel fat–I may have weighed mine too! Yet, conversations with friends told me otherwise, I so wish I wasn’t flat, that I was like you I would hear from them….so funny you always want what you can’t have…kind of the same thing with curly vs. straight hair. I have made peace w/them now but have to say the worst was when breastfeeding and I looked down and started crying because I felt like a porn queen, at that point they had to be down to my belly button! But thankfully it’s been 9 years and they did eventually right-size :). Thanks for your enlightening post!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Robin, I am really loving that more than a couple of us weighed our breasts. I thought it was just me doing that. And I hear you about sports- thank goodness for Under Armour sports bras. It’s really so interesting-like you said- seems like on both sides of the breast equation- women with big breasts, women with small breasts, wondering if the other way is better.. And that this same way of thinking is often to applied to other body parts- including hair- just affirms to me that objectification is insidious and toxic to everyone. Thanks for reading and for sharing your experience with me.

  34. sonworshiper says:

    Thanks for a mind-opening perspective on what it’s like to be in your shoes. I’d hope that men would read this and see the impact of falling in line with the sexually objectifying trends in our culture. I doubt many of the guys you mention in bad experiences would suddenly change their ways, but hopefully enough of us read something like this, understand just a tiny piece, and teach our sons to respect women instead of ogle them.

    Thanks, too, because I have a 14 year old daughter and constantly hope to send the right messages to her so that she loves who she is instead of wishing to be someone or something else.

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome. I hope that happens, too. It is wonderful that there are men out there who have become aware of this and are seeking to free their sons and daughters out of the old paradigms. But still, we need more men to wake up to this!

      We’re all really in this together- and I think objectification creates separation all around. Thanks for sharing and reading.

  35. kd blog says:

    This brought back so many memories of my body blossoming, and the different male/female reactions to something that I did not control. Thanks for this post!

  36. Nina Lorelei says:

    Wow, I love what you wrote. It is so similar to what I experienced in puberty. I could tell stories almost the same which are imprinted in my mind. Funny how we never forget these bad things people told us. You’re doing a great job embracing your body as is, breaking free from old impressions.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Thank you, Nina!

      It sucks, of course, that we had these negative experiences at all. Still, I can’t help but be awed at how so many commenting on this post are saying, “this happened to me too!” And ya- it’s amazing that the body never forgets.

  37. R.J. Koehn says:

    Like you I’m well endowed. We don’t know where it came from either. My mom and sister are exactly the opposite. They are petite and fine featured. Apparently I’m a throwback to our hearty-working ancestors. (Just more evidence that genetic distribution is rarely even or fair.) However, unlike you, my early experiences were a little different. I was a very late bloomer. By the time my breasts appeared everyone else had had them for a while. And like your Skipper doll, they just appeared with a few pumps of my arms. I think my mom was a bit horrified. We completely skipped the training bra stage. Anyway, I had been teased mercilessly about not having any, then it switched. My feeling about them have changed as frequently as the seasons. However, I’ve breastfed other my boys and am so thankful that I could use them as they were intended to nurture life and love my family. I think however, my boobs and I still have quite a journey ahead of us.

    • diahannreyes says:

      RJ, as someone who hasn’t had children yet, I am really struck at what you and other women commenting have said about how breastfeeding changed the way they feel about their breasts. Sounds like you are continuing to evolve in how you relate to your body and that is really wonderful.

  38. Merilee says:

    I could totally relate to your experience when your breasts were developing. Mine started at exactly twelve years of age, along with my first period. BOOM! I started growing breasts. I was teased at school by, ironically, other GIRLS, who made fun of me because I needed to wear a training bra. I was absolutely horrified with the new breasts and was terrified that I would end up large-chested like my mother, who always complained about how painful large breasts could be. But not long after they hit a “B” cup size at around age thirteen, they stopped. And that was that. I never ended up with the double “D”‘s my mother had and then later on I was sort of disappointed when my girlfriends got attention from boys because they had larger breasts than I had. Now? I like my smallish breasts. But there still are times when it crosses my mind that I am inadequate in men’s eyes because I don’t have those double “D”‘s!!!!!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Merilee, I’m really getting from reading everyone’s responses is how the wishing of our breasts as bigger, smaller- seems to be such a universal experience. That’s great to hear that you’ve come to love yours just as they are. Thanks for reading. Beautiful photographs, btw- look forward to seeing more.

  39. I identified with everything you said about growing up with bigger breasts. Thanks for sharing in such an eloquent way. (Congratulations, too, on being freshly pressed!) I breastfed my kids, which added another chapter to my chest’s history and wrote about it in an essay called “The Price of a Boob’s Job. 🙂

  40. Katherine J. Legry says:

    although your point of view is entirely valid, little breasts are not any less subject to sexual harassment than large ones. flat chested girls do not have it “easier” unless you are speaking from an entirely athletic perspective. i find the topic of beauty interesting so I’m glad you bothered writing. your frustrations are also interesting in light of the singer Beyonces recent attempt to “empower” women by supposedly “teaching the boys” and not just focusing on girls, as she continues to dance with wide open crotch shots and colored hair. I’m not sure what she means to do. Although feeling sexy or beautiful is okay, boobs are for feeding babies. What men think of them, is completely unimportant. We are only cattle, if we agree to it.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Katherine, I agree- that size doesn’t seem to be a determining/discriminating factor where sexual harassment of the breasts are involved- it’s just because they are breasts!

      I’m really beginning to get, from reading everyone’s responses, that our relationship to our breasts are so much more complicated and layered than what is normally talked about. I’m glad we are all talking about this.

  41. Reblogged this on From Edens Garden and commented:
    This is so relatable and powerful!

  42. Greg Weber says:

    Does the idea of the Growing Up Skipper doll strike anyone else as sort of creepy? Eeeww!

  43. leahwise says:

    I remember studying the pages of a “Your Changing Body” pamphlet I got in the 5th grade, comparing the developing images against my own body. It took me awhile to realize I was never going to look like the diagram of a fully developed woman (I’m a less-than-A cup) and when I did, it took awhile to accept that about myself, to see myself as a grown woman nonetheless. I felt like a child for so long because it was implied that without full breasts and child-bearing hips, I hadn’t quite reached adulthood. Body image is so annoyingly complicated.

    • diahannreyes says:

      Yes, isn’t it? So many nuances to understand and layers to unreel. It’s really crazy how objectification makes women feel about their bodies regardless of the size and shape of her body. Wonderful that you reached that point of self-acceptance 🙂 I’m finding it very liberating… even if I’m not perfect at it. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and for reading, Leah!

  44. Julie says:

    congrats on being FP’d

  45. The world of breasts has changed so much for me since I recently had a baby and started breastfeeding. It’s sad how much our culture puts sexual emphasis on a part of the body meant for the nourishment of children. Thank you for sharing you honest and transparent story.

    • diahannreyes says:

      You are welcome, Stacy. It is beginning to feel like my honor, based on how generous everyone has been with sharing their experiences here, too.

      And I agree that it is sad the way things are now with how breasts are objectified so much! Hopefully this emphasis on objectification will change the more the world becomes aware of how harmful it is.

  46. Whether we objectify breasts, penises, feet. . .isn’t really the issue that is so upsetting here. It’s the lack of respect and boundaries so many people show others when it comes to appearance (or anything), I am always amazed at the things people say or do to others as if the recipient isn’t really a person, too. Unfortunately, breasts, large, small, perky or pendulous are just two things that people think are fair game over which to be rude. Thanks for sharing!

    • diahannreyes says:

      Yes- the sense that it is okay to comment or touch another’s body just because one feels like it is definitely a problem. Hopefully more people realize that these can be covert violations and stop. Thank you for reading-and congrats on your new blog.


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