“Why, Yes, My Blessings Are Real”

by admin on February 9, 2012

This happened at my cardiologist’s office. I’m a woman in my late fifties dealing with some heart-rhythm problems arising from a congenital defect. As part of my treatment, I undergo periodic tests called EKG’s (electrocardiographs).

An EKG is done by a technician, and requires sticking electronic leads onto specific locations on the patient’s chest. It happens that I am what Dolly Parton calls “blessed”–in fact, I have DDD-cup sized Blessings. In order to get the leads stuck to the correct locations, it’s usually necessary for the technician to adjust my Blessings or move them out of the way.

. . . So on this occasion, the young and friendly technician starts hooking me up, moving my Blessings as necessary. And in the most matter-of-fact manner, she asks, “Are they real?”

I’m taken a little aback, but answer that they are, indeed, original equipment, and the EKG progresses normally. Meanwhile, I’m lying on the table thinking, “I can’t believe she actually asked me that! I guess I should be offended or something–maybe young women don’t understand how personal that is-but it was so funny –”

I go home and share the story with my sister and roommate. They (1) fall down laughing, then (2) agree with me that, oh yeah, that was (chuckle, chuckle) completely inappropriate. . . .

The next day, after giving it some thought, I phoned the doctor’s office and asked to speak to the office manager. I explained that I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble, but the technician had asked me (et cetera, et cetera). The office manager cracked up, but agreed with me that such an inquiry was indeed inappropriate, and promised to bring the issue up at the next staff meeting. She was still chuckling when we hung up. 0208-12

This is one of those situations that falls under “blather”.  People who keep talking for the sake of talking and silly things just tumble out of their mouths.  We all do it.   Kudos for seeing the humor in it.

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

essie February 9, 2012 at 7:45 am

“Why, yes, they are real…but they’re not mine. I just borrow them from my sister when I’m having a EKG – or a really hot date.”

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Green123 February 9, 2012 at 7:52 am

Were I similarly blessed as you (I am not, sadly), my response to the ‘are they real’ question would have been ‘They sure are honey. Jealous, are ya?’ I know this would have embarrassed the technician, but I’d have had a good laugh at her expense for asking such a cheeky question!

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Susan February 9, 2012 at 8:52 am

Well, my “blessings” are original, but no one asks because my cups definately do not runneth over! :)

I was, however, asked if I was on fertility treatement when I had my twins. I replied, “no, they were made the old fashioned way.” I thought that was a bit of a personal question as well.

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--Lia February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

But wouldn’t the realness or unrealness affect where the leads were placed? I can’t imagine a lead put into a sac of jellylike material would yield good information on the EKG. (I’m not a medical professional so I really don’t know.) I’m not excusing the technician’s rude way of asking the question; some explanation of why s/he was asking is in order, but there might have been a medical reason for the question.

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Lisa February 9, 2012 at 9:27 am

I am an OBGYN nurse. I can tell you that some of the conversations that I have had with patients behind closed doors would REALLY offend you! How about instead of getting the tech in trouble by calling the office manager, you could have nicely said to her behind closed doors that her question was inappropriate? Most all of the time, we “blather” with patients to ease their anxiety.

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jch February 9, 2012 at 9:32 am

I agree with Admin, that this one falls under “blather.” The technician spoke before thinking, and was likely embarrassed about it later. Or maybe these days the younger generation feels that “artificial blessings” are now so common that the question is appropriate? I do agree that she should be informed somehow that it was not…

I am curious, though…why, if OP saw the humor in it, and wasn’t deeply offended, did she find it necessary to call and report the incident? While the office manager may have laughed it off with the OP, there is a strong possibility that the technician will be confronted and perhaps somehow disciplined for the faux pas (possibly even fired? In some places, that could be the case).

I think if it were me, and I felt it needed to be addressed in order to avoid a repeat performance with a less understanding patient, I would have asked to speak directly to the technician. That way, she would know that she’d been inappropriate and would have an opportunity to bite her tongue next time — and it could be accomplished privately, without her being embarrassed/humiliated by having it brought up at the next staff meeting.

As it is, her embarrassment (in a meeting involving the entire staff, presumably) will likely be far more than the OP’s… although it must have been embarrassing in that room, it was just the OP and the technician there — seems it didn’t become truly embarrassing until the OP shared with her sister and roommate…. is it truly necessary to ensure that the “young and friendly” technician share that embarrassment by having her thoughtless faux pas become fodder for the office gossip pool? Sometimes these breaches in etiquette are innocent mistakes, from those who simply haven’t learned enough yet to know better. Just a thought.

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jena rogers February 9, 2012 at 9:34 am

Maybe it’s just me being naive, but I wondered if there was a medically driven rationale for the question. Was the tech concerned, for example, that any prosthetic might impede a proper reading…

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vanessaga February 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

I too am “blessed” (although, not as amply as you!) and I’ve noted that some have a fascination with them for whatever reason. I agree that it was unprofessional, but still funny and good for you for seeing both sides. I am glad you mentioned it, as often people do not realize they are being offensive and saying the same thing to a less tolerant person could have caused a bad situation.

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mstigerlily February 9, 2012 at 9:57 am

As someone who is also “blessed,” I’ve gotten this question too, but never had a good response. Anyone have a good, kind of funny yet still polite response for that question?

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PurplPngn February 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

Given that this was a doctor’s office, I would have probably assumed that the tech might need to know for the placements of the leads…..sounds like this wasn’t the case though.

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LeeLee88 February 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

Ha! I actually had just the opposite happen, and was fortunately able to keep my sense of humor about it too. I had to get an echo cardiogram done, and the guy doing it said it was nice to finally have a woman with small breasts that don’t get in the way so much. Now, I’m not hugely “blessed”, but I’m a nice B-cup, and I don’t believe that’s anything to sniff at :-P. I cranked my head around to look at him (I was lying on my side), and said, “Well, you’re real smooth with the ladies, aren’t you?” while laughing. He turned beet-red, and apologized appropriately. Fortunately, he kept to far more light-hearted fare after that.

I say good for you for having an excellent sense of humor about it, OP. We all say silly things sometimes, and it’s great that you’ve got a thick enough skin to be able to laugh it off.

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m February 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

I disagree with the Admin on this: it doesn’t appear to me like the OP saw the humor in the situation. She was 1) sulking about it during the procedure; 2) talking about it to her friends & family; 3) calling her doctor’s office to complain. The fact that she feels obligated to add the whole “while laughing” comment every time indicated to me that she in fact took it more seriously than she would like us to believe.

While I believe that the technician didn’t exactly think it through, I believe the call at the end to the manager was completely inappropriate. OP probably got the technician in trouble for virtually nothing. The world is a bad enough place as it is. We really don’t need to make a mountain out of OP’s blessings.

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Jones February 9, 2012 at 11:16 am

Maybe it’s because I am of the younger generation but I didn’t find the remark all that rude. Fairly common, actuall, particularly in a situation with someone who is touching the blessings; even more so in a medical situation. Put me in with the lot who thinks you may have got the technician in trouble with her boss for little good reason.

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PhDeath February 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

I think the OP had a sense of humor about the situation (she mentioned that as she was pontificating on the comment during the procedure that she acknowledged it was funny).

I also agree that there may have been medical necessity behind the question. However, were I the tech, I would have made that clear (even if I chose to go with the somewhat terse “Are they real?”): “Are they real? I ask because that can affect the placement of the leads.”

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Molly February 9, 2012 at 11:23 am

@ mstigerlily: You could tell them that “Why yes, these are carbon based, not silicone based.” Or there is the Seinfeld back up: “Yes they’re real and they’re spectacular.” Finally there is the “I don’t see how that is any of your business” set down but that might leave them with the impression that they are technologically enhanced.

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GroceryGirl February 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

Being similarly blessed myself I have heard some really wild and inappropriate comments in my life. It’s weird how people seem to think it’s perfectly fine to say things because it IS considered a “blessing”. Being blessed is not always a blessing.

But I would never have called the manager to complain about the tech. Usually I just laugh off what people say to me. They make great stories later.

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Cat February 9, 2012 at 11:47 am

I, too, am amply blessed although no one has ever made it a subject of conversation during an EKG.

Replies? How about, “Oh, no, these are just faux copies. I keep the real ones in my safe at home.”
Or perhaps, ” My God! Mother told me those were moles! What are they really used for then?”
Or, ” I used to be an “A” cup but, then I had the octuplets and you know what happens with all that nursing.” Or, ” Well, since I was having the sex change operation, I figured that, if I was paying for them, I might as well get my money’s worth out of all those female hormones I had to take.”

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agsdad99 February 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

As someone who’s been a little too blessed, I can say this question gets asked a lot with the correct, but presumptuous idea that I’ll have a good sense of humor about it. There’s a big difference between friends and strangers… but I’m also a medical technician so I know how awkward it is too!

And for the record, as the leads don’t go directly on your blessings, but just around the bottom, the question WAS just blather and had no real application to the procedure. LOL!

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many bells down February 9, 2012 at 11:58 am

Maybe it’s just because I’ve had a LOT of EKGs in my life, but I would have assumed the question was medical – but I’m also a B-cup so no one’s ever asked me that. I was born with a congenital heart defect that require surgery, and thus have had literally dozens of EKGs and Echocardiograms. I will frequently calmly say “Is my boob in your way?”

However, if the question WAS medical, the tech should have explained that. For example, “I’m sorry to ask, but it makes a difference as to where I place the leads.” It may be obvious to the tech why she’s asking, but it’s not always obvious to the patient unless it’s something they do a lot.

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Kara February 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

@m

“While I believe that the technician didn’t exactly think it through, I believe the call at the end to the manager was completely inappropriate. OP probably got the technician in trouble for virtually nothing.”

I disagree that the call to the manager was inappropriate. The Technician made an inappropriate comment and the OP was offended. It is 100% the OP’s right to make that follow-up call to the office manager about it. Maybe the Technician will learn a nice little lesson in discretion and watching what she says.

Better the Technician learn that lesson now, from someone who is going to be reasonable about it, then to make such a thoughtless comment to someone who gets REALLY offended, and demands that the Technician be fired or otherwise harshly disciplined.

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spartiechic February 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I agree with m’s comment. I don’t believe she found the humor into it as much as she thinks that’s what people want to hear. She called to complain. You don’t do that unless you’re offended and want to get her into trouble.

On another note, my cups runneth over (I’m an E cup). I’ve had several EKGs in my time due to a TIA I had in 2009 (yes, I was only 32). During those exams, I’ve never had anyone ask me if my “blessings” were real. There is no medical need to ask that question as the leads go on the chest and under the breasts. I probably would have laughed and told my friends, but I wouldn’t have called the office manager. It was just blather, as the Admin said. We’ve all put our feet in our mouths at one time or another. Life is too short not to just laugh and forget something as silly as this.

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BagLady February 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

What? Nobody’s suggested responding with, “They’re real, and they’re spectacular!”?

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Kovi February 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I’m not saying I’m glad it happened, but since it did, I’m relieved it happened to someone who was at least able to see some amount of humor in it. I wouldn’t have been able to. I’m much like you, OP, but I’m very uncomfortable with what I’ve been ‘blessed’ with. If that had happened to me I’d likely be crying the whole way home. But I’d never call the office – I’d be far too shy. I’m glad you had the guts to.

M: Saying something that inappropriate is not ‘nothing’. That tech should absolutely know better in their line of work.

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Nicole February 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I think it was perfectly approprite to call the office manager. The tech does not need to know if they are real or fake to place the leads, the leads go in the area under the breast. OP wanted someone to tell this professional that her blather was unprofessional so that another patient was not seriously offended. I feel she was informing the Office Manager of a problem, not complaining. If the office manager is any good at her job, she can bring up the complaint in a non-specific way and remind the staff to keep these patient conversations more professional.

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Smitty February 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Good grief, they are called breasts, not “blessings”. There is nothing vulgar, inappropriate or shameful about using the correct term for a normal part of the human body, especially in a story about a medical procedure. I agree with a previous poster that there is a chance that the tech needs to know if the patient has implants as part of the scanning process.

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mrsdeb February 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I am also somewhat bodacious in the ta-ta department, and every year at my mammogram the staff asks if they’re real or implants. (You’d think they could have written it down by now, but…) I just figured it was a medically necessary question.

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Laurence February 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm

What’s with the “Blessings” euphemism. It just cracks me up. Is breast such a bad word? And all the commenters are all perpetuating it. You guys are so cute! All of my great aunts (who are unfortunately all now deceased) used to have these cloying little expressions (“I have to tinkle!”or “I have to take a wee wee”, “You can to go to H-E-double hockey sticks!”) when they had to say anything the least bit off color. Every time the poster used the word “blessings” I pictured her as Aunt Bunny; all 250 lbs. of her, with her giant lacquered hair, support hose and reeking of Shalimar.

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Sarah Jane February 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

My guess is that maybe the tech was trying to add some levity to a situation which might be somewhat awkward for some patients. Some people in the medical field become slightly desensitized from looking at dozens of people’s body parts all day long. They start to look at the body as something more like a piece of machinery.

I certainly would have laughed at the comment, but I know that different people are sensitive about different things. I’d hate it if the tech got in trouble over this.

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GroceryGirl February 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Just to add: I think the biggest faux pas here is that the manager laughed when the OP called in to complain. I may not agree with her choice to call and complain but (being one who works in a service industry) you should never, ever, EVER laugh when someone lodges a complaint with you!

Also, I’m not a doctor but I have had an EKG and the leads they put on you don’t go on your breasts they go above or under so I doubt that implants would effect the test. If they somehow did, why didn’t the manager explain that when the complaint was made in order to smooth things over?

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Bint February 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Ooh, negative assumptions in some replies! It sounds more to me as if the OP was nice enough to warn the office because next time someone could be extremely angry and offended. It isn’t inappropriate to pass on this kind of feedback – it’s helpful- the technician would probably appreciate it. What she said was completely inappropriate and unprofessional, and she needs to be told. I’d have probably snapped, “What kind of question is that?” at her and then complained – I don’t appreciate personal questions like that during medical procedures. The OP handled it far more kindly than I would have.

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Ashley February 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I get asked strange questions about my tattoos and stretched ears so I’m kind of used to firing one liners back at people. I’d rather tell whoever made the comment directly, than telling someone else and hoping it winds up going down the grape vine.

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badkitty February 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

If nothing else, be proud that your “blessings” can still pass for store-bought! For those wondering, implants would not affect the test in any way – that’s why stuff has to get moved around ;)

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Shoegal February 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I too don’t understand the call to the office manager. If this were so funny to the OP – was it also funny to call the manager and get this tech in trouble??

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Missy February 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m just going to point out that I am not a medical professional either, but when I’ve had to have EKGs, they do not place on the blessings. (Notice that the OP said they moved hers out of the way.) My blessings are small and not anything that anyone would pay for, but I’ve still never had anything stuck right ON my blessings.

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Gracie C. February 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm

jch – I didn’t get the impression that the OP ratted out the specific tech. I took her call as something along the lines of, “I (no specific name given) was in for an EKG and the tech said blah blah blah…” I got this impression because the response was to “bring it up at the staff meeting” not “I’ll discuss it with the tech.” Seems like it will not be humiliating for the tech as no one but the tech will know who the culprit was.

To some of the others – I’ve had many an EKG – and I’ve never been asked that question. If the information were needed for medical reasons, they would have to ask everyone, as not everyone who has implants have large breasts.

As for those who think that just because the OP wasn’t offended (or that she secretly was) that she shouldn’t have called the manager – a) it is not her job to pull the tech aside and teach her how to behave professionally, and b) better to have it gently reported by someone not offended, then by someone who WAS offended and ends up leaving your practice and bad mouthing you all over town.

As a final thought, I wonder what the tech would have followed up with had they been fake – intrusive questions about why? Comments about how real they look? Where could that conversation possibly go?

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SaucygirlBethsoulliard February 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Lee lee, your response was awesome. M, I agree with you. I think op was more bothered by it then she is admitting here. I used to be similarly blessed, and had similar experiences – the dr who did my reduction said all kinds of things that could have been construed as out of line. I think though, that when you spend all day looking and handling peoples chests, they stop having that “private” feel. To the tech commenting on the ops chest was probably no different than commenting on her hair or purse.

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Kitty Lizard February 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Well, I’m “Blessed”, but I had to pay for mine. I had a gynecologist ask once if mine were real!
He was astonished when I told him they weren’t. (I had a really fantastic plastic surgeon.)
I thought essie’s comment was hilarious!!

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Amanda H. February 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

LeeLee88, I can kind of sympathize with the tech in your anecdote. I’m a…well-endowed woman myself and have to get periodic EKGs and Echos done, and it is a real pain the way my blessings get in the way for the procedures.

That said, to others who wonder, I doubt the “realness” of the blessings has much to do with the placement of the leads, just going from my own experiences. I’ve never been asked by a tech if mine are real, and they’re almost the same size as OP’s.

I also got the impression that OP was calling to give the manager a heads-up for a potentially offensive situation, as opposed to just complaining. She said she wasn’t trying to get anyone into trouble, after all, and the manager did seem to take it with humor. I know that in my retail days, I would much rather correction come from management than for them to connect me directly with a potentially offended customer for correction. I would think it would be similar in a medical office situation. The correction means more coming from a person in a position of authority in your workplace rather than a customer who doesn’t know how things work behind the scenes.

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Cat Whisperer February 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm

For gosh sakes. Medical professionals who are having to handle extremely personal parts of our bodies in the course of examinations have to say something, because the alternative (complete silence broken only by technical comments cogent to the examination) is not only cold and uncomfortable for most of us, it can be downright scary. I, for one, would find it frightening if the medical professional examining me went from cheerful trivial conversation to concentrated silence: I would be wondering what was so serious that it rendered the medical person silent?

For this reason, when I’m having an exam, I try to lead the conversation to an area that’s not loaded and not personal. The weather, some news item that’s interesting, an admiring comment about something the tech is wearing, there’s lots of stuff to blather about and I think most medical professionals are more than happy to follow your lead when it comes to blather.

So if you know you’re going to have a medical procedure that involves very personal examination or handling of parts of your body that you’d rather not talk about, go into the exam pre-loaded with a line of blather to carry you through. Chances are the medical person will happily follow your lead in the conversation.

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Stacey Frith-Smith February 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Just one thought- in my estimation, it’s not unethical or problematic to refer the remark to the office manager. It’s not the OP’s job to correct the technician, and not her job to try to guess how this would play out in an office meeting. All bodies have idiosyncrasies of one sort or another (short, tall, bit round or bit flat, perfect nose or broken one ad infinitum). Remarking on them without first making a case for need is rude. Even people blessed with stellar looks sometimes prefer not to be noticed in this way. We all need to tread cautiously and with compassion in our observations about the world, and particularly in voicing our observations about people aloud. What could OP have done about the contents of this remark? The technician socially left her no place to go except either embarrassed humor, surprise or annoyance. Her motivation for reporting the incident is not as germane as the fact that she responded as best she could and referred it to the office manager for correction. That person appeared to be planning on a general announcement in the context of a staff meeting, not a public session in humiliation aimed at the technician’s small lapse. I see this as a case of “no harm, no foul” on both sides and don’t see any real objection to how either the OP or the office where she worked plan to address this.

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Miss Sweetbones February 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I agree that it would have been better to handle it right then and there. Calling the office to get her into trouble wasn’t kind… I think she either had a reason to ask or made an innocent mistake. I like the humorous answers a lot, but I probably would have said, “None of the other technicians have asked; do you need to know in order to place the electrodes?” If she doesn’t, it’s a clear (but tactful) reminder that the question was not appropriate. If she does need to know, then you’ve given her the information that will help her do her job best.

I think it’s important to remember that in medicine, people will ask questions that would otherwise be horribly inappropriate. Medical professionals aren’t being nosy. They’re just trying to get the information they need to do their job and give you the best treatment possible.

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Aje February 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Oh blessings. Welcome to a life where men have trouble making eye contact… at least the technition was a fellow woman! That would have been reaaaaally awkward

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JS February 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

As someone who works in the medical field, I have to say that this tech was being highly unprofessional. It was rude and, even though the OP tried to laugh it off, it obviously upset her. The majority of people who work in the medical profession have learned that they have to be very careful with what they say, before it bites them in the a@@.

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Elizabeth February 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm

You were very forgiving of this technician’s blather and yes, it was indeed inappropriate. The office manager, well I expect more from someone in this role. Her reaction was quite inappropriate and unprofessional.

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Kristi February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I agree with m, it seems entirely over the top and inappropriate to call the office manager at this woman’s workplace and likely ensure discipline of some kind. A word direct to the tech would have accomplished the purpose without getting others involved, OP seems a bit mean spirited.

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Wink-n-Smile February 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm

In response to “are they real,” you can say, “Well, they aren’t imaginary.”

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twik February 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Actually, if the OP reported it without heat, I think that it might be a “blessing” to the technician. Many people still find the state of their reproductive organs inappropriate conversation unless it relates directly to the treatment, and the next time the tech asks, they might get a much more irate patient.

Asking such a question if it’s not medically related is no different that leaning over the cashier at the grocery store and asking the same thing. Some people would think it funny. Other people would want your head.

If the message was simply, “perhaps you should warn her not to ask that again (unless it’s necessary for treatment)”, it may avoid something much more damaging downstream.

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Jenn50 February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Lia, no, the electrodes are placed under and around the breast, not on the breast itself. As an EMT who has done a jillion EKGs, I can think of no reason that a technician doing an EKG would need to know that.

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Jojo February 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I had an ekg recently and there seems to be no issue with the type of breast tissue you have, just the volume! As someone who has voluminous natural ‘blessings’ I felt rather uncomfortable having such a procedure without a bra on, and if I’d had the same blather helping out I’d have taken it as a compliment that I was in the ‘firm’ range of breast tissue rather than floppier range that nature has bestowed.
I do sympathize though, I and my fiance were recently blessed with an unexpected pregnancy. We paid for a private dating ultrasound ( not a requirement in the UK as the NHS provides ultrasounds and all pregnancy care) and the technician – registering our surprise at the news we were further along in the pregnancy than expected- launched into an interrogation of our contraceptive choices and the frequency of my periods. It’s most unpleasant lying on a couch having a stranger stabbing your abdomen with an ultrasound wand while giving you a lecture on contraception and judging you like you’re and irresponsible teenage mother with a drug habit. For the record my fiance and I are past 30, financially comfortable, non-smoking, moderate drinking, in a secure loving relationship and have never experienced an unexpected pregnancy before. We didn’t appreciate the unnecessary stress this woman put us under.

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Edhla February 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Gosh, ladies. The word is “breasts”, most women have them, and there’s nothing shameful or obscene about using the right word! :)

I too am wondering if there was a medical reason the technician asked. There’s a difference between someone in a medical setting enquiring about one’s breasts and, say, a cashier doing so. Some tests don’t work as well/can’t be done at all if you have silicone breast implants. Similar to how I’m asked if I’m pregnant virtually every medical procedure that I have done- they’re not enquiring because they’re curious about my personal life, it’s a question they ask for medical reasons. I would definitely have said something like “oh no, they’re real, do breast implants affect the EKG?” You might have got an interesting answer.

Sorry to get on my high horse about this, but it’s just a thing I have- I find it sad when women are so embarrassed by having breasts that they can’t even say the word and get upset if people make (non-sexualised) remarks. Accepting our bodies and being matter-of-fact about them doesn’t just make life easier for those of us who are over a D cup in particular, it also helps to open a dialogue about things like breast cancer.

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