Tall and slender, Melissa is the kind of woman that most people would turn their heads for. Her eyes are expressive and full of life, and she seems to know how to use this beautiful, vivacious looking face and body to her advantage. Her friends adore her generous and sunny personality and often complement her on the fine job she has done turning her life around. She’s aware now of her inner beauty, and works hard to preserve the gift of her outer attractiveness. She learned to like herself.
Melissa was not that joyous most of her life; in fact, this newly found peace of mind has been eluding her for a very long time.
Until ten years ago Melissa was suffering from a severe eating disorder. She was practically saved due to the unyielding efforts of her mother, family and professional help (the family physician and a therapist).
In her therapy sessions Melissa learned about her own body image, her perfectionist attitudes towards herself and others, her judgmental nature, and her need for control. The courageous work paid off; Melissa had conquered the disease and then perused what she considered a productive, creative and comfortable life.
Four years ago, Melissa became romantically involved with a young man she grew to love and respect, she wanted to marry him. Steve was taken by her beauty and personality as well as her quality of life, her positive energy, vivaciousness and yes, her cooking abilities. They didn’t like to spend time away from each other and decided to move in together. Both of them were working at their respective careers and slowly building their love nest; a beautifully decorated house which they loved to come home to.
On a Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, Melissa and Steve went dancing at the club where they first met. They do this often and both are good dancers. This time though, a young woman was dancing next to them. She had on a red top that was cropped short, revealing firm abdominal muscles, her large breasts were accentuated by the low cut design and her nipples were protruding through the red fabric. Steve looked intrigued. The young woman looked back at him and smiled. When Melissa and Steve went back to their seats, he was still staring at the woman with the red top. Melissa noticed his fascination and felt that something inside her has just been provoked. She let him know how it made her feel. Steve kept saying (defensively) that he was just looking and that looking is not doing, acting etc. His words did not help her emotional state. If anything, those words made it worse.
Within a week Melissa was back into the old behavior of the eating disorder. Her tendencies to starve herself and purge after eating revisited. She became obsessive about perfecting her surroundings, controlling, judging and feeling miserable. Melissa lost trust in Steve; projecting on him her not-good-enough state and felt depressed. Melissa had regressed.
Let’s go back to that Saturday night at the club. Steve, in the club, was not aware of Melissa’s distress. He was reacting to the external stimulus; breasts and nipples on display in his proximity, why? What is wrong with that?
In my recent book Booby-Trapped, How to Feel Normal in a Breast-Obsessed World, there is a discussion (including historical research) that explores Steve’s’ of this culture and how young men became so obsessed with female breasts, or to be more visually descriptive; ‘booby-trapped’. Steve is reacting to the red-top-woman just like he reacted to Melissa a few years earlier; with fascination, provocation, sexual attraction and intrigue. However his obvious insensitive behavior in the club is an area that requires improvement. Steve belongs to this generation where large breasts are considered to be one of the main criteria for attractiveness. It’s sort of a code we are teaching our young men. It’s now a mental health hazard with lots of painful consequences. And it’s a family issue that is becoming severe, like eating disorders.
Back to Melissa. Instinctively she felt threatened by Steve’s reaction and recoiled with depression. Why such a strong reaction from Melissa? She has a great looking body, thin and sexy. She has large breasts too. Have I mentioned that Melissa had breast augmentation surgery as part of her self improvement quest?
Well, as you’ve learned by now; Melissa is at least as ‘booby-trapped’ as Steve; namely, she is obsessed with the size and shape of female breasts. These emotions and preoccupation with body parts such as breasts often cover up deep feelings of shame about one’s femininity and self worth. No wonder that she is threatened by the sight of intentionally displayed large breasts by another female, attracting her man’s attention.
Melissa, as well as many women in her generation had bought into the culture-induced ‘norm’ of female’s large breasts.
What example will she set for her future children? How will she ‘deal’ with breast-feeding, motherhood, aging, life and other maturing processes?
Notice how it was not the naked, firm stomach that triggered Melissa’s regression, rather it was the envy for her boyfriend, the dancing large breasts and the noticeable nipples that started the ripple effect.
What Melissa is about to learn is actually the message and motto of the book Booby-Trapped, How to Feel Normal in a Breast-Obsessed World; http://www.boobytrapped.com
Size and Shape are Human Tissues,
Shame and Fear are Human Issues!