For The Last Time: Not All Women Love Having Big BoobsS

Writes Alessandra Stanley, "Men who complain about being too tall and thin are a little like women who bemoan their large busts. Unlike being fat, bald or flat-chested, it's as much a boast as it is a lament." Wait, what?

The context: an otherwise very engaging New York Times review of Conan O' Brien's show at Radio City Music Hall, which is, she feels, tainted at times by a disingenuous false humility. To wit: "Mr. O'Brien patted his flat derriere, saying that the jumpsuit was "not a flattering look." Actually, he looked silly, but not at all bad." The tall/thin line follows hard upon it.

I get where she's going with it, and the operative word here is "boast": yes, people who publicly bemoan certain characteristics often are drawing attention to what is obviously only going to garner compliments. The people with actual issues rarely go around talking about them to strangers. But this is an unfortunate example. (I'm not even touching the truly "lamentable" states of baldness, fatness, or flat-chestedness, presumably burdens no one would willingly assume.) Any young girl who's developed early, or grown woman who's had to button her blouse just one higher than everyone else, knows the "SEXUALITY" sign large boobs confer on her, whether she wants it or not. Are big breasts synonymous with "sexy?" Sure - as any cat-caller will be more than happy to inform a woman. While I get what Stanley's talking about, I've heard women talk about back-ache, the problem of supportive bras, the challenge of summer clothes, the limits of high-fashion, the cost of breast-reduction, the unwelcome attention far more than I've seen preening Regina Georges pretending to bemoan Mattel frames. The old saw that any woman with a large chest is merely lucky, or doesn't know how good she has it, or that a breast-reduction is a purely cosmetic luxury, is tired and unfair, and I hate to see it perpetuated even in passing.

Of course, it was a throwaway remark on Stanley's part; I certainly don't believe the writer's trying to make any point other than that Conan O'Brien has it pretty easy. But it's a dig that reinforces a tiresome stereotype. If there are indeed women fake-complaining about their breasts, please cease and desist ASAP. Some people aren't kidding and we'd like to avoid remarks like this in future. As to tall, thin men - well, that I'll give her.

Slings, Arrows, Self-Pity. What A Kidder! [New York Times]