Does my bum look big in skin: [6] My imaginary breasts

This post is part of the series Does my bum look big in skin?

Other posts in this series:

  1. secret water – does my bum look big in skin? [4]
  2. Posh spa? No thanks – I’m a naturist – Does my bum look big in skin? [5]
  3. Does my bum look big in skin: [6] My imaginary breasts (Current)
  4. You’d make a great naturist! Does my bum look big in skin? [7]
  5. Are naturists naive? – Does my bum look big in skin? [10]


I’ve recently realised that I have imaginary breasts. I know this sounds a bit odd.

Breast ownership is a lifetime’s commitment. I’ve gone through the phases of finding them new and strange, of realising they attracted attention and not being sure how to deal with this, of learning to deal with it more confidently, of regarding them as functional and of hardly regarding them at all. Then a couple of weeks ago, I read about ‘the return of the 70s breast’. 

The mammary of the moment, we are told, is softer and sits lower. Cleavage is so last season. And whilst the news was met with some journalistic spluttering – how can a body be judged in this way?! Sexist! Oppressive!  – I feel a bit differently about it.

It’s not really news: there’ve always been body-fashions.  Rubenesque and curvy was once the way to go, though what it meant was wealth: when only the rich could afford to be well-nourished, the fleshy female form indicated prosperity. (These days, sunken-cheeked starvation sends the same message). The body-of-the-moment is ever-changing.

Corseted waists were once the span of a man’s hand (ouch).  Hipless and flat-chested, flappers in the 1920s would strap their breasts flat to their chests (ouch again). There were big-eyed 60s doll-girls, and the athletic, boardroom-bestriding Amazons of the 1980s, with hair-dos that scraped the ceiling and appointments with their personal trainers at 5 o’clock in the morning.

Fretting over what’s in and what’s out takes your mind right off, say, equal pay or violence in the home. Distract us and keep us down. Mostly, though, it’s to keep the tills ringing.  

Oh dear, I’m afraid that you don’t have the look of the moment…but you can buy something to fix that.  Has madam considered a Wonderbra? Or maybe those giant slim-lining knickers that flatten the flesh round your tummy and hips, then shoot the fat out at the top as if you’ve used too much grouting?

All this is on the outside, though. Since I’ve been a naturist, I’ve noticed fashion gets deep beneath our skin. I’ve even given it a name, which I’m hoping will catch on: I’ve called it ‘dressed-undressed’.

Dressed-undressed is when you’re slightly disconcerted that your naked self can’t sustain the illusions of your clothing. My number one dressed-undressed issue is  – breasts.

I expect them to look as if I have a bra on, even when I don’t. (And if you’re not a breast-owner, please note: that’s more stressful than I just made it sound). It’s worst when you’re sitting round a table and you lean forward. In clothes, my imaginary breasts would rest just on the table’s edge. Undressed, my real breasts bump right into it.  I can’t hoist them up. I can’t push them down. They’re just in the wrong position. The last time I didn’t know what to do with them, I was 14.

And then I catch myself thinking… oh no, they’re too low. There’s something wrong. Gravity got to me. Babies and breastfeeding beat me up. (Nursing is the time when you view your breasts as functional: are they filling up with milk?  Which side did he feed from last? I used a tiny safety pin in my bra to remind me. This revolutionises your relationship with your rack).  But thanks be to Lycra – no-one knew what’s happened. Until now.

I wonder if other naturists sometimes feel dressed-undressed. Perhaps we’re all wearing invisible clothes. Or maybe it’s something that passes: I’ve watched women who seem truly oblivious to their unruly boobage, sliding sideways or pointing down rather than the obligatory forwards-and-up. For now, I’m not quite there.

What I am, though, it seems, is bang up to date. ‘Hoicked-up bosoms have all but vanished from fashionable circles’, and I’m feeling less pressure to hoick too. I have a happening chest, and it’s really quite exciting, filled with ‘soft focus, earthy femininity’, to use fashion-speak for a moment. ‘Not so much natural, as faux-natural’, the same writer warns a few lines down… but remember that this is still fashion and fashion is always here to make us feel slightly unhappy.

But hurrah – for now – for my 1970s breasts.  I’m a trend-setter at last!

Continue reading this series:

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