The Obsession with Breasts and Body Image

Lisa Walsh

“Nipples are IN!” purred Samantha Jones on a Sex and the City episode. Though Samantha is in a separate league than most people when it comes to expressing herself sexually, she doesn’t lie. Nipples are in -- as are the nipples’ hosts, the breasts.

The American obsession with breasts is inescapable. Everywhere you look -- television, magazine covers, billboards, movies and advertisements-breasts confront you. You can’t avoid them. Actresses accepting awards on Prime Time television dribble diamonds down their chests to invite you to their cleavage. And with the television camera, there you go. Cigarette and beer billboards show large-breasted women in tiny t-shirts having fun smoking and drinking. Magazine covers display beautiful women with tiny waists and large breasts with feature articles on how to get both. It’s everywhere!

Unfortunately, most women and men compare themselves to the images they see. Many strive to attain the look they see in the American media even when a particular body type may be physically unattainable for them. How are young women (and men) expected to survive comparing themselves against these prevalent images?

Where Does It Come From?
Large, perky, round and firm breasts are just part of a bigger American obsession. The American media is obsessed with portraying the “perfect body.” Throughout its many channels, many women and men learn to identify with the “perfect” images displayed. Being thin, having great muscle tone and, for women, having big breasts are what Americans view as perfection. Even magazines that supposedly promote “healthy living” would not have a cover model who needed even a little bit of “work” on his or her body.

Everywhere we look there are ads telling us how to get the perfect body, and many of us give in to them. Approximately 132,000 breast enlargements are performed each year in the US. This surgery is second only to liposuction as the most common plastic surgery in America. According to Dr. Michael Kulick, “Breast augmentation is the #1 surgical procedure performed for women between 19 and 34 years of age.” As further evidence that the media push of the perfect body has an effect on the public, “the number of breast augmentations has tripled in the past 8 years,” says Dr. Claudio De Lorenzi.

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