In this special Pretty Hurts series, the Cut explores women’s complicated relationships to beauty standards and the efforts required to meet them.
Nora Ephron didn’t just feel bad about her neck. She called breasts, or her lack of them, “the hang-up of my life.” In a 1972 Esquire essay, she wrote, “If I had had them, I would have been a completely different person. I honestly believe that.”
To find out how women see their own breasts, the Cut polled 57 New York women, ages 17 to 72 (plus one 4-year-old who grabbed the marker from her mom) and asked them to draw their boobs and write one sentence explaining how they feel about them. In cafés and bars, on playground benches and on the way to work, women laughed when they heard the question, disparaged their drawing abilities, and gave it a shot.
We heard stories of breast cancer, breastfeeding, and what it’s like to become a double D in elementary school. Women drew their scars, big nipples, or barely there boobs. They offered advice, wrote what they love about themselves or why they wished for something else. Big, small, or somewhere in between, there were a few instances of eh and a good number of they’re perfect! Click through our slideshow to see the results.
*This is an extended version of an article that appears in the November 17, 2014, issue of New York Magazine.