My cup runneth over

My enormous breasts cause problems in my relationships with men.

Published May 7, 2003 7:16PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I have enormous breasts (30J. Yes, they make a J cup). I think that my breasts have caused major problems in my relationships with men.

Men tend to react in one of two ways to my breasts. The first is repulsion. Men as a group don't really like huge tits, in spite of what the media may say. They like medium, perky tits. Huge tits are saggy, and men find this gross. Now, I'm a decent human being, so sometimes guys like me in spite of the fact that they think my breasts are disgusting. Still, it isn't nice to know that the person you are with finds your body repulsive.

The second way they react is, of course, to fetishize them. Lots of breast fetishists only speak with me to begin with because I have enormous breasts. While it is nice to be admired, being fetishized makes me feel like just as much of a mutant freak as being repulsive does. These guys tend to be really into pornography, too. I don't want to be with a guy who is really into pornography. I want to move away from that.

What I really want is someone who likes my breasts but isn't obsessed with them. Like my eyes, or my nose, which are perfectly good, lovely body parts, but no one makes a big deal out of them.

I am very resistant to the idea of a reduction, because, damn it, I think I deserve a nice guy. I don't think I should have to chop off body parts to get one. That seems a little drastic. Even though I am aware that society considers me a mutant freak, it still pisses me off that they do. They shouldn't. But they do. But they shouldn't! So please don't mention reductions in your response to me. I don't need you to tell me I am a mutant freak. I get it enough from sales ladies whose stores don't carry bras in my size.

There is another problem ... I have had, as a result of my unusual body, many, many issues around body image and sexuality. These have manifested themselves in bulimia, sleeping around, and posing naked on the Web. This is an issue for most guys.

Am I doomed to a life without a decent relationship? Has my sordid past ruined any chance of one? Was there ever a chance of one to begin with? Even before I started acting like a slut, people treated me like one, or they treated me like I was asexual. They didn't treat me the way they treated other girls. Is that just my sad fate? Should I get over it and accept the fact that I have three choices: I can be a sex object, I can be regarded as ugly but liked for my personality, or I can be alone? Or do I dare hope that I can have someone who thinks I'm pretty cute, but doesn't objectify me? It seems impossible.

My friends all have nice boyfriends who generally appreciate their bodies, but do not obsess over them or fetishize them. Why can't I have that, too? Is it too much to hope for?

The Mutant From Massachusetts

Dear Mutant,

I called a friend who has had breast-reduction surgery and she said, "Physically it's great. They don't get in the way. Normal clothes fit. But I certainly didn't do it for anybody but myself." She would never cut off a body part for a man, she said. She did it for herself. And medical insurance paid for her operation. There is a good chance, she said -- and she's in the medical field -- that breasts of your size, on your 30-inch ribcage, would be recognized as a legitimate medical condition. So even though you asked me not to mention reduction surgery, I have to mention it. If the size of your breasts is a problem, reducing their size can be a solution. Perhaps you don't want to have breast-reduction surgery because it would be like giving in. Perhaps you feel that it's not you who should have to change, that it's the way the world perceives you that's the problem.

But the world is not really the one with the problem. You're the one with the problem. After all, it's not some male fetishist who wrote in complaining about how big your breasts are. You're the one with the complaint. But here is a wonderful paradox: It's great being the one with the problem, because if you're the one with the problem, you're the one who can solve it. If it were only the world's problem, you could never solve it. So I think if your enormous breasts are a problem for you, and they appear to be, then you owe it to yourself to solve that problem. Breast-reduction surgery may be the solution. However, whether you have the surgery or not, you're going to have to learn to think a little differently about your body and what it makes you do.

I do not think your large breasts caused you to pose naked on the Internet. Nor did they cause your bulimia or promiscuity, any more than a man's mouth causes his obesity or his penis causes him to be unfaithful to his wife.

Our body parts do not make us do things. It's how we think about our body parts that causes us to do things. For instance -- don't laugh -- there may be a little voice in your head that says, "I'm a slut with humongous jugs. I'm a slut with humongous jugs." When you start investigating your own head, you find the strangest things in there.

Of course, those things in your head are not true. But they still tell you things about yourself, often because they're the exact opposite of the truth. So if you read them backwards, or in a mirror, they can tell you the truth. For instance, I once had a voice in my head that said, "I can't write. I can't write. I can't write." Viewed as its inverse, it turned out to be true -- that is, the opposite of the truth. But it pointed me to what my problem was. If I had had a voice saying, "I'm a slut with humongous jugs," I might have been a bit more confused. But I knew that this particular voice was about me, about my drives: It was of course about my fear of failure as a writer. So you might find, for instance, if you have a voice telling you that you're a slut and you're worthless, in truth it may be telling you the opposite: that you are a strong, virtuous and valuable woman who only fears that she is a slut. At the very least, it is telling you that your desire, however freighted with anxiety, is to be a strong, virtuous and valuable woman.

They say you build self-esteem by performing estimable acts. So once you admit to yourself what it is you want to be, day by day you work at it, and day by day it happens. So what would this strong, virtuous woman do? Would she teach? Would she help other women with body issues? Would she be involved in food and cooking? Would she be a personal trainer? If you can find a purpose and work toward it, you can turn all this suffering into a life that is both satisfying to you and useful to the world.

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Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.

By Cary Tennis

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