Body Image / Media criticism

A Lot of Big Boobs

Sheyla Hershey believes bigger breasts will reveal her inner beauty, just as a bigger telescope reveals deeper secrets of the cosmos. What drives her to pump more and more silicone into her chest? Well, she’s “got a dream inside” — a dream “to look better each day, every day,” and “it’s good when you can make your dream come true.” To that end, she’s just completed her eighth breast augmentation surgery, and now carries two record-breaking, seam-busting liters of boob goo in each exaggerated mammary.

How readily her case demands to be explained by the simplesboobst explanation: a conspiracy between superficial media culture (whose distortions of the healthy female form pollute even the youngest minds) and unscrupulous plastic surgeons (ever ready to ignore the Hippocratic oath in favor of that more fitting Greek icon, Pluto, captain of wealth and death). Whatever reasons led her to first consider chest enhancement, her motivations since have been corrupted, co-opted, by a self-image disorder. However, instead of working through the moral and medical background of Hershey’s situation, let’s instead look at the responses to her situation left by Internet users at two different but predictably similiar articles: one from ABC News and the other from the Australian paper The Daily Telegraph. First, the comments left by the largely American readers of ABC’s hard-hitting news piece:

  • “Natural is better. Scientific devices cannot make a woman more attractive. A romantic figure is defined, sleek, and smooth.”
  • “Natural of any size are great. 😉 Certainly if they’re too large a woman should consider a reduction if they’re affecting her health.”
  • “I love how this article brings out the comments from all of the large breasted readers, “I have a 36 H naturally, I am naturally a 44 DD, my size G breasts, a natural 44 DDD, and I’m a 34 G”. I love it. How do I meet you women!?!?! I love large breasted women!!!”
  • “I don’t care to see the freak show’s implant canisters, but the stock photo for this story caused me to click 🙂 niiiice” [This photo is pictured above -Eds.]
  • “I would rather see a fine looking set of long legs.”
  • “I am a male who loves breasts of any size but I don’t advocate implants and recommend that women who are too large get reductions. They should not ruin your health. All of them are fabulous in my book”
  • “If that is her in this picture then why change them. They are very nice already.”

What did Australian readers have to say?

  • “Does being fake, false and fraudulent make her a “real” woman?”
  • “Well, you’ve given her her 5mins of fame. Maybe that’s what she wanted. Maybe the best help that we can give her is to not report it.”
  • “Ridiculous. What makes her think they look better? Most people would laugh and stare, not think they look good.”
  • “What will she do and how will she cope in another 10 years or so, when her breasts flatten out and droop down to her knees ? Or maybe she doesn’t have the brains to see that far ahead?”
  • “Why would a healthy young woman push her limits on her health by enlarging her breasts to such a size. Its ugly and just plain stupid!”
  • “Well she will get into the limelight with no talent . She will need steel supports on wheels to transports these puppies”
  • “my natural E’s are plenty big enough and give me enough back pain. i couldn’t imagine having to drag something that size around – i could also think of better things to spend my money on! it is hard enough to buy a pretty E cup bra let alone FFF! what a fool!”

Don’t trust my editorial selection — follow the links above, go to the sites yourselves, and tell me if you agree with the characterization I’ve indicated here, that American readers are grotesquely pro-tit, showing little regard for the person behind the flesh, while Australians show a laudable skepticism towards both her decision to Go Big, and the media’s decision to devote attention to the topic. None of this is sufficient data from which extrapolate sweeping cultural generalizations. Instead, I’ll just close out the discussion with two observations.

One: it is better to be silent and not leave online comments, and let people wonderif you are a boob, than to leave thoughtless, misogynistic comments that prove it.

Two: while the foundational principle of liberal society is the freedom to do with our bodies what we please, regardless of how the exercise thereof may displease, discomfort, or disgust our neighbors, Sheyla Hershey is not actually exercising her freedom with this surgical obsession. No — she is powerless, clearly, to resist the compulsion to her enlarge her breast size, even so far past the point of safety. Compelled by what? By psychological and societal factors, in the absence of which, she certainly would make different decisions regarding the body it is her right to control.  This powerlessness, this debasement, is what we need to keep in mind as we consider her situation, not whether she is more attractive with or without the sacs of silicone beneath the overstretched tissues of her chest.

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3 thoughts on “A Lot of Big Boobs

  1. This comparison is very interesting. I had to read over the comments again, but you are so right! The American comments completely focus on the breasts themselves while the Austrian comments are about the woman they are attached to.

    This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Recently I looked through an issue of CosmoGIRL! to sort of see how it has evolved since my years of obsession with it (14-17…) and realized that just after flipping through 5 or 6 pages I felt terrible about myself. The subliminal messages behind nearly every ad are just suffocating and oppressive. And they are inescapable.

    I agree that women (and men) should have the right to do what they want with their bodies, but I think it’s important to ask where those inclinations come from sometimes.

  2. This comparison between the two responses is really interesting. I had to read them again but you’re so right, the American answers are all about the boobs and the Austrian are about the woman they belong to.

    I’ve actually thought about this obsession with women’s bodies alot recently. I picked up a copy of CosmoGIRL! a few weeks ago to see what the magazine looks like now, years after I fell in love with it (at 14…). Just after flipping through the first 5 or 6 pages I felt horrible. Every ad not-so-subliminally said I have to think about my body and nothing else.

    I agree that people should be able to do what they want with their bodies, but I think it’s important to understand where those inclinations come from sometimes.

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