A book review!
BARE REALITY: 100 WOMEN, THEIR BREASTS, THEIR STORIES by Laura Dodsworth.
A hundred women bare their breasts and provide commentary on how they feel about them, with family and medical background, and views on breastfeeding. This is a personal insight into what real breasts look like on real women, rather than air-brushed images on screens and billboards.
The group included young and old women from a diverse range of backgrounds, some mothers / some not, some breastfeeding, and some post-surgical after lumpectomy, mastectomy, breast reduction, gender reassignment, or implant surgery. It’s a desperately-needed bite of reality in an age of media lies; a vital piece of work that everyone in the west should read. On a more personal level, it made me feel better about my own body — I was able to place my own shape and size within a group of a hundred others, and found myself feeling comfortable.
There are a lot of commonalities, so if you read all the commentaries one after another, as I did, you’ll encounter a lot of recurring themes and so it does feel repetitive, but all the stories have individual voices and there are some wonderful quirks along the way — e.g. the girl who bought her first bra with her father, and the woman who tattooed butterflies onto her breasts. It was interesting to read how some women are happy with their breasts and find them deeply erogenous, whereas others are not and do not (the author implies a link). Likewise we hear of partners who are enthusiastic and generous about their lover’s breasts, and others who are scathing.
In some cases, the pictures and stories were familiar; others were admirable and/or stunningly beautiful, and all were human. Every single story had something to give; en masse, they were deeply moving. It felt like walking into a room full of friends. It was a privilege to read.