© Barbro McKee 2005
Headlights. Tits. Knockers. Bazooms. When she jostles her perfect C-cups, Roget’s Thesaurus categorizes these things as after car parts, birds, and weaponry. Although the bras were burned, do breasts really belong to the American woman, or, has their silent ignominy removed the obstacles to yet another war?
The film Memphis Belle tells the story of a B-17 bomber and its crew, which returned safely from no less than twenty-five missions in World War II. Memphis Belle is also a crew member’s girlfriend. One of the other airplanes in the film is named C-cup. More respectfully perhaps, another bomber is Mother and Country. While the B-17 was one of the army’s largest, longest and hardest flying weapons in WWII, the C-cup, is managable perfection in the female breast. A is too small. B is dismally normal. D is too much. C is the idyllic handful, and gets the job done.
After the war: the car in every driveway, the chicken in every pot. Children were bursting out of nowhere. And daddy had the right to drive up and squeeze the little woman when he got home. Look at what our boys had been through, after all. It was up to women to preserve herself, and, most significantly, her perfect, adolescent breasts. She was coerced into sacrificing her newborn’s nutrition to keep the country stabilized in those years after the war.
However, disgust with stretchmarked, breastfeeding breasts is perhaps not simply a wartime phenomenon. First published in 1726, Gulliver’s Travels describes Gulliver’s epiphany on the human female breast, when, as a miniature visitor in Brobdingnag, Gulliver gets an unwanted close look at a nursing mother. Gulliver recounts
I must confess no Object ever disgusted me so much as the Sight of her monstrous Breast, which I cannot tell what to compare with, so as to give the curious Reader an Idea of its Bulk, Shape, and Colour. It stood prominent six Foot, and could not be less than sixteen in Circumference. The Nipple was about half the Bigness of my Head, and the Hue both of that and the Dug so varified with Spots, Pimples and Freckles, that nothing could appear more nauseous… (79).
In high school, my 34 C-cup was the admiration of the girls’ locker room. I was voted to have the Vogue-est breasts. I have since had my daughter, breastfed her, and in the process acquired Good Housekeeping breasts. That is, breasts which have stretched and filled with milk, been suckled at, and have descended graciously toward Mother Earth, perhaps in an attempt to reunite with her abundant breast.
Have I been unpatriotic? The truth is, given a closer look at even my idyllic, C-cup breasts, the boys on the front might not have been so excited. A miniature Gulliver might even have been horrified. Certainly I have done nothing new. My grandmother grew her breasts so long, she often absently tucked them into the waist of her long johns when she got into bed at night. I don’t know if this was practical or absent-minded.
My suggestion: we have a secret weapon to bring the peace. We need to release our grandmas out their, long johns or no, lining the streets around the Pentagon and the White House. Let their white and grey heads go unsprayed, let their bosoms sway freely in the wind. Let them look on our chickenhawks as they go to work every day. After a few weeks of viewing the uncensored breast, who, in their right mind, would slap such a thing onto the side of a plane for yet another war?