As an adolescent girl, I passionately envied those with large breasts. Why? I suppose my mind was saturated with media images of the desirable female body, combined with what schoolboys apparently fantasized over. Perhaps if silicone implants had been as available then as they are now I would have found some way to get them. As it is, I have had to go through life with adequate but never eye-catching breasts. Pregnancy and, even more so, breast-feeding have given me a taste of what the well-endowed experience but otherwise I have remained, contented but not exultant, in the world of the B cup.
Of course, as I get older the advantages are more obvious.
When I was growing up in Britain, I remember reading an article by a serious reviewer predicting the future success of movie actresses Julie Christie and Sarah Miles. The article stated that, although they were both very good actresses, Christie would be the more successful because Miles was “flat-chested.” This had the weight of authority — it was not a newspaper that had a Page 3 pinup — and was a pronouncement of awful finality.
When I first came to Canada, I started going to a gym. In the changing rooms and the showers, I was amazed to see the variety of women’s bodies and that women whose bodies did not fit what I considered the norm were nonchalant about displaying them. After I got over the initial surprise, I was filled with a rush of love for humanity in all its diversity. Celebrating the natural body became part of my feminist beliefs. I looked back with pity on that narrow-minded, old-fashioned movie reviewer.
Today’s Sarah Miles is Keira Knightley: her slight and delicate figure is exquisitely alluring in a wet camisole in Atonement and it does not seem to have held her back in her career. (Actually, Sarah Miles seems to have done OK, too.)