I’ve always felt like my boobs make me a little too ‘present’.
Like they enter the room before I do. Like they’re a smudge of lipstick on my teeth, or a skirt tucked into my undies – something embarrassing that everyone else can see, even when I’m painfully unaware.
They make me visible in a way I don’t really want to be.
That’s why I was mortified when, while working as a waitress overseas, a man stared at my chest and asked, “are they real?”
I felt dirty. I felt humiliated. I felt like I had just been asking him what he wanted to drink and now a part of my body that was not at all relevant to the conversation had been brought up, and it was my responsibility to shut it down.
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But how could I shut it down? If I said ‘yes,’ I thought, I would sound… proud of them. In a way I’m not particularly. They’re a body part, not some sort of achievement. Saying ‘yes’ would tell him something I didn’t think he had any right to know.
Saying ‘no,’ while it wouldn’t have been true (although I have no judgement for women whose breasts aren’t ‘real’ in the way this man was implying), would also suggest that his question deserved any kind of reasonable answer.
When you pick up an object, like a diamond, or a designer bag, you might ask if it’s real. You don’t ask that about a part of someone’s body. That reduces them to a… thing, that exists primarily to be looked at.
So the words, “are they real?” felt tantamount to being asked, “hey, woman. Your tits. They’re visible to me. I need you to tell me if you’ve had implants so I can form a complete judgment about the quality of them.”