Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tits and class

Amber got to this first, but flat-chested pride is in the news. This Jezebel post got me thinking: why are flat chests associated with classiness? One possibility would be that the rich are thin. But that's a new phenomenon--didn't the Audrey Hepburn vs. Jayne Mansfield divide predate questions of fast-food and the inner city? Either way, 'class' here is more about sophistication than wealth, more about a refusal to sleep with just anyone than an income above $100k. Furthermore, as over 200 Jezebel commenters will tell you, chest size does not always correlate with overall size, so it's not really about weight.

So what's going on? Is it that men are too distracted by large chests to hear what all but the AAA-cupped are saying? Or is the problem that some women, intending to look trashy, pad or inflate whatever it is they were born with, and thereby make those women who just happen to be top-heavy seem as though they are intentionally trying to send some kind of trashy message about their plans for the evening?

Something like this goes on with blondes--some women dye their hair to make a point, making even natural blondes symbolize blondness in all its complexity (simplicity?). But that's easier to understand--children are blond more often than adults, so blondness represents innocence, naiveté, and thus (in the lowest-common-denominator male mind) a willingness to go home with you and look at your record collection without suspecting what you might be after. But between flat chests and D-cups, surely the former are the chest equivalent to blond hair, the look associated with youth. A big-chested woman will, our straw sleazy man should imagine, hold the upper hand. Yet our straw sleazy man will expect her to go home with him, because she's stacked. I don't get it.

5 comments:

Amanda said...

As much as I do think that there's a sexual factor involved (obviously, we're talking about breasts here) in the classy factor, I also think that there is an income thing going on. It's related to but not the same as fast food in the inner city. As you point out, breast size is not always correlated to wealth, but there are certain stereotypical correlations between breast size and race (or perhaps more accurately put, curviness and race?) and also between breast size and income level. Having recently moved to a less yuppified neighborhood than the one I lived in in DC, I kept noticing how busty all the women were. A friend pointed out that the hormones that are in fast food have been linked to premature breast development (and perhaps larger breast development) independent of weight.

Not sure what this adds, but there is a certain WASP body type (I grew up in Connecticut, I'm all too familiar with it), and even a tendancy (from what I remember) for wealthy women to dress so as to minimize large chests, etc., in wealthy, buttoned-up (har har) communities.

Matt said...

Before you mentioned blondes, I had already thought of this post at sans everything.

ck said...

I think it's the fetishization of youth. Small breasts are associated with young, firm women or something. And supermodels of course.

David Schraub said...

I think the real moral of this story is that men don't exactly think 100% rationally about this subject. Which isn't, unfortunately, all that surprising.

Anonymous said...

Withywindle here:

My dad once said this goes back to a patrician/plebeian distinction in ancient Rome--that larger ladies were considered lower class back there. I never did confirm this, though he's usually pretty good on history. If so, this would argue for an astonishingly persistent tradition in Western culture.