The other day I was poking around the internet for the answer to a particular question: whether or not wearing a bra at night keeps boobs safe from the forces of gravity. I started doing that very thing a few years ago with my older bras that are a little stretched out & so pretty comfy to sleep in.

The answer: the jury is out. There are very strong opinions on both sides. Some say bras in general are bad for boobs & actually cause them to sag. Others that bras are vital. Breastfeeding has been viewed as a culprit. It’s not. It’s actually the thickening and then thinning of milk ducts that causes women who have been pregnant and/or nursed to have less “bouncy” breasts. Weight loss and gain isn’t good for them either, if you needed yet another reason not to yo-yo diet.

So it’s pretty much surgery if you want higher boobs post pregnancy or weight loss/gain or just because you do. Of course you can and should work out your pecs, stand up straight, get fitted for the right bra (if you don’t believe the pervy French researcher) and – get this – squeeze your own breasts to potentially prevent both sagging and breast cancer.

But in the meantime, look at these breasts of regular people. I have to say that I looked at these photos more than once while I kept thinking about the breasts I am used to seeing – say the absurdly perfect rack of the brunette in the Robin Thicke video, for instance – and wondered about how often ANY of us see regular breasts.

Nudists do. Kinky folks in play spaces. Doctors. But most of us don’t really see the breasts of regular women on a day to day basis ,& that fact blew me away. Theoretically, it’s entirely possible for young women never to see anything but (1) their own breasts and (2) “famous” breasts (of movie stars, porn stars, etc.) That’s kinda fucked up.

Moreso, read what the women themselves say about their breasts: one woman with a really lovely pair wants them to face forward more. Another wishes she didn’t have stretch marks. Women with small breasts want bigger ones; women with larger breasts worry about sag. Asymmetry seems pretty routine. I kind of love that this one young woman lists everything that is “wrong” with them but still loves her own:

“I’m eighteen and have never been pregnant, but I come fully equipped with real flesh-and-blood breasts – my right is larger than my left, I have one inverted nipple, visible veins, stretchmarks from rapid adolescent development, even light downy fuzz covering the entire breasts. Whatever. I love them. They don’t belong to men, they don’t belong to society: they belong to me.” (bold added by me)

So the next time you think yours are imperfect, go look at some real women’s breasts – these are ones of women who have been pregnant – and remind yourself once again that we are, in fact, an uptight prudish culture – which means we don’t see other people naked casually – and that commodifies women’s bodies in ways that suck – which means we only see breasts that are selling products or entertainment.