Authors on Boobs: Quotes from Nora Ephron, Judy Blume and More

Authors on Boobs: Quotes from Nora Ephron, Judy Blume and More

Breasts. Boobs. The “girls.” Throughout history, few body parts have inspired as much conversation—or controversy—as the human mammary gland. For Breast Cancer Awareness month, we’ve gathered quotes from female authors covering all the phases of breasts, from their first debut at puberty to their metamorphoses during motherhood and illness, drawn from writings that run the gamut from the political ( Katha Pollitt) to the deeply personal ( Judy Blume and Nora Ephron). Read these excerpts for a laugh, a spirit boost or to give yourself a gut check, then share them with the women in your life.

On growing up and getting boobs (or not)

Barbara Kingsolver, from  Small Wonder

“As a child I’d spent endless hours poking around in the woods or playing disorganized games with other kids in the fields around our house, but once I grew breasts, my unchaperoned days were over.”

Lizz Winstead, from Lizz Free or Die

“First there was the requisite menstruation/sorta sex-ed movie that Sister Saint Invective showed us in Catholic school health class, which was religion class every other day. [….] Some blond girl who was my age wanted a yellow dress she saw in a store window, but her parents felt she was just too girlish to have it. Then once she started her period, her body “changed,” and as a reward for starting forty years of monthly triage, her parents bought her the dress. [….] My synopsis of the movie: First you bled, then you grew Barbie boobs, then you got a cool dress.”

On breasts and mommying

Hanna Rosin, from “The Case Against Breast-Feeding,” The Atlantic, April 2009

“Breast-feeding does not belong in the realm of facts and hard numbers; it is much too intimate and elemental. It contains all of my awe about motherhood, and also my ambivalence. Right now, even part-time, it’s a strain. But I also know that this is probably my last chance to feel warm baby skin up against mine, and one day I will miss it.”

Breasts and disease

Judy Blume, from “!@#$% Happens,” judyblume.com, September 2012

“I have small breasts (a la Margaret Simon). ‘A-cups?’ the breast surgeon asked at our first meeting. She nailed it. [….] Like Margaret I used to think bigger was better. But my dense, small breasts aged well. They stayed perky while other body parts sagged. I’d become quite fond of them. Still, the idea of mastectomy wasn’t a difficult emotional decision for me (again, these are very personal reactions and decisions). Maybe because my breasts have never defined my sexuality.”

On body image

Nora Ephron, from “A Few Words About Breasts,” Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble

“There were men who minded and let me know that they minded. There were men who did not mind. In any case, I always minded. And even now, now that I have been countlessly reassured that my figure is a good one, now that I am grown-up enough to understand that most of my feelings have very little to do with the reality of my shape, I am nonetheless obsessed by breasts.”

Katha Pollitt, from “Implants: Truth and Consequences,” Reasonable Creatures

“Why do so many women hate the breasts nature gave them so much? And why do they measure their self-esteem by the size of their bras?”

Cheryl Strayed, from Tiny Beautiful Things

“You don’t have to have taut flesh or a tight ass or an eternally upright set of tits. You have to find a way to inhabit your body while enacting your deepest desires. You have to be brave enough to build the intimacy you deserve. You have to take off all your clothes and say, ‘I’m right here.'”

Of breasts and men

Gloria Steinhem, from “I Was a Playboy Bunny,” Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

“I took a last look at myself in the mirror. A creature with three-quarter-inch eyelashes, blue satin ears, and an overflowing bosom looked back. I asked Sheralee if we had to stuff ourselves so much. ‘Of course you do,’ she said. ‘Practically all the girls just stuff and stuff. That’s the way Bunnies are supposed to look.'”

Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes

“Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: A woman having large breasts makes men stupid.”

A cultural obsession

Caitlin Moran, from How to Be a Woman

“They sit on your rib cage from the age of 13 onward, and yet there’s scarcely a word you can refer to them with that isn’t going to make either you or someone else uncomfortable.”

Erica Jong, from Ariel Levy’s book, Female Chauvinist Pigs

“The women who buy the idea that flaunting your breasts in sequins is power—I mean, I’m all for that stuff—but let’s not get so into the tits and ass that we don’t notice how far we haven’t come. Let’s not confuse that with real power.”

Naomi Wolf, from The Beauty Myth

“Looking at breasts in culture, one would have little idea that real breasts come in as many shapes and variations as there are women.”

This piece was updated on September 22, 2014.

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