Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boobies in Belgium

© 2010 Leighann Lord

I’m not a buxom babe and I’m at peace with that. I wasn’t always. Puberty was a trial. Despite reading Judy Blume’s “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and faithfully executing its famous exercises – repeat after me if you remember: “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!” — my little cupcakes seemed genetically preordained to be modest. They’re a respectable 34B instead of the sought after 36C or dare I dream, D.

I once went to Victoria Secret to get measured, to make sure I was wearing “the right bra.” I was secretly hoping they’d find something I’d missed. The good news? Yes, I was wearing the wrong size bra. The bad news? It was too big for me. According to the evil Victoria Secret measuring tape, I’m a double A. Stand back everybody. I’m packing batteries. I’m an academic. Going from a “B” to an “A” is supposed to be a good thing. What can I say but, “Fie on you, Victoria, and a pox on your secret!”

Let me be clear. I’m not flat chested. But I know, from a purely esthetic point of view, my bust is not the main attraction, but an integral part of the total package. I’ve got a couple of good team players.

So it was with total surprise when I caught a man in the act of full-on ogling my boobies. I was on a tour in Europe with a day off in between shows. Our hosts were kind enough to take us to Liege in Belgium to shop at the open air market.

As I walked past an older gentleman sitting at an outdoor café, he casually looked me up and down and then his gaze fell abruptly to my chest, and stayed there, riveted. It was so far out of the realm of my personal experience, and it happened so fast that I wasn’t sure it happened at all.

I would have dismissed it completely had a friend not been there to witness it. I turned to her with my, “Did that just happen” face and she responded with her, “Yes, it did” face. She too seemed surprised but also oddly impressed. There was a hint of, “You go, girl” in the arch of her eyebrows. I was content to let the incident pass, filed away under random acts of reckless eyeballing when one block later it happened again.

What the deuce? One’s an anomaly. Two’s a pattern. But why? I wanted to ask but didn’t have the nerve to say, “Excuse me, Sir? Why are you staring at my boobies?” I have no idea how to say “boobies” in French, Dutch or German, the three main languages spoken in Belgium.

Perhaps Europeans just don’t share the American fascination for freakishly large breasts, preferring instead more natural proportions. This could correspond to the smaller food portions Europeans mysteriously seem capable of surviving on. Apparently, they don’t super size their food or their women. Now that’s refreshing. Let’s hear it for European sophistication.

It would be fair to say that I was both tickled and offended. Well, according to my inner feminist I “should” be offended but this was clearly at odds with my inner adolescent who, at the age of 18, was clinically depressed when a much hoped for last-minute growth spurt didn’t materialize. “Fie on you, Judy Blume!”

But the older I get, the more real life resides in undulating shades of gray. Yes, yes, yes, objectification is wrong, but may she who has not gazed appreciatively upon the chiseled male models on the Abercrombie & Fitch billboards cast the first stone. Is there a time and place to openly appreciate what is pleasing to the eye? Any random afternoon in Belgium.

Note to self: Check on the status of my dual citizenship request.

Leighann Lord is a stand-up comedian, who's style is best described as "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, she'd be Jazz. She's George Carlin if he'd been born a Black Woman. Check out her upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

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