Breasts: An educational (?) slide show

Jane Magazine rounds up photos of 23 topless women to "show the world that we're all perfect."

Published April 18, 2007 9:19PM (EDT)

If, like me, you're a little preoccupied with -- all right, freaking the hell out over -- the Supreme Court's decision today to uphold a federal abortion ban, not to worry: Broadsheet's Lynn Harris is working on a related feature story. In the meantime, here's an odd little something (via Nerve) that temporarily took my mind off my uterus: Jane Magazine's "Slideshow: Perfect Breasts" (NSFW).

The project was inspired by the statistic that 70 percent of women are unhappy with their breasts. "That might be because we don't often get to see what natural breasts look like, and are instead bombarded with false images of 'perfection' that leave us feeling bad about ourselves," reads the slide show intro, which is part of Jane's larger "Guide to Breast Health." The magazine rounded up 23 women and had them pose topless -- only their bare torsos are shown -- and expound on their relationship with their breasts.

I'm all for the idea of a desexualized look-book of "normal" naked bodies -- it's the sort of thing that should be available to pubescent teens (and all ages, really). But for all its potential, Jane's execution falls short. Most of the blurbs accompanying the boobs don't stray very far from the aforementioned "false images of 'perfection' that leave us feeling bad about ourselves." For instance, Misty, 23, says, "A girl at summer camp told me my boobs wouldn't grow. Look at me now, sucker!" Several of the comments can be summarized as such: "Yeah, I have small boobs, but they aren't totally hopeless!" Take, Jules, 28, who says, "I'm a jeweler and I make chains that fall between them and enhance them." A handful of other comments just underscore the power of breasts to tame the beast. "A low-cut top helps me get my way," says Brooke, 28. "I use that more often than I'd like to admit." Moshon, 31, says, "I like the way they look in a low-cut blouse. They give me power."

There are a few interesting comments about a scar from a nipple ring, a third nipple ("it makes me original") and a family history of breast cancer ("I'm enjoying them for as long as I can"). But even these are given as quick, two-second sound bites when these women's actual stories are probably far more interesting -- and validating to other women with similar experiences -- than a slide show of bare breasts.

Ultimately, the project seems one part healthy breast awareness, two parts good old-fashioned T&A (minus the "A"). Focusing on the sexual power of breasts -- through propping them up, exposing them or highlighting them with jewelry -- doesn't "show the world that we're all perfect" (a ridiculous aim to begin with). Instead, the slide show suggests that we can all look perfect ... with a little effort.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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