Titillating Titties: The Hypersexualization of Breasts

Illustration by Laura Yau.

Images of breasts, boobs, melons, ta-tas, racks, tits, and funbags (the list goes on) are everywhere in our Western American society. For blobs of extra fat on a woman’s chest, they appear to catch people’s gazes right away.Women are constantly being objectified for their breasts. In Western American society, breasts are used to sell things, which is dangerous, because this dehumanization can further reinforce rape culture. In our Western American society the objectification of women has become normalized, because breasts are present everywhere. Breasts are used to sell everything from burgers to car insurance.

Since breasts are so sexualized, society freaks out when they are not being presented in a sexual way. In Western American society, it is acceptable to use breasts to sell consumer items. However, it’s unacceptable for a woman to post a picture of herself breastfeeding on social media. There have been many instances of women breastfeeding in public or posting pictures breastfeeding that become huge controversies. Time Magazine’s list of “The Top 16 Breastfeeding Controversies” conveys the constant criticism women face when they lack agency over their own bodies.

This criticism of breastfeeding is a clear double standard, because on one hand breasts are always supposed to be sexual objects, however, when a woman breastfeeds, which is completely natural, it suddenly turns into this gross, abnormal and unattractive act. The objectification and double standard doesn’t just occur in the media; it is present in everyday life.  Aline Du, a current UCLA student and third year French major, expresses her frustration for being objectified for her breasts. When asked if she feels hypersexualized, she states,

“I notice at parties and stuff that guys tend to stare at my boobs. When it’s just my friends joking around I don’t find it offensive but when it’s people I don’t know it makes me uncomfortable and it’s like stop staring at my tits please.” When asked if she thinks guys would still stare at them if she had smaller breasts, she states, “Honestly, I feel like boobs are boobs; no matter what cup size you are, guys will stare at them regardless. The bigger boobs you have, the more they pop out, so they naturally draw more attention from people.”

Once again, the normalization of the objectification of breasts draws out a kind of acceptance and internalization of being objectified. However, breasts weren’t always on the forefront of our minds. Evolutionarily, breasts haven’t been such a big deal. According to this article by Tracy Clark-Fory, “There’s no doubt at all that a lot of men are really, really attracted to breasts! But it could be that that attraction came later or was secondary, and it’s never really been satisfactorily proven that all men in all cultures across all times are obsessed with breasts”(Fory). This article exclusively talks about a Western, American, heteronormative culture and all these theories about whether straight males are biologically hardwired to be sexually attracted to breasts can be hard to juggle and rack up quite the controversy. However, I think we can all agree that the hypersexualization of women’s breasts by society in general further dehumanizes women. This dehumanization thus projects an unfair double standard for women and doesn’t give them agency over their own bodies.

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