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There’s Trouble in Them Thar Hills

Feb. 4, 2015|693 views
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Not to put too fine a point on it, but being a big-breasted gal comes with certain, shall we say, perks. They’re certainly among a woman’s most noticeable assets. And contrary to popular misconceptions, a women’s IQ does not go down as her breast size goes up. On the contrary, according to research conducted about a decade ago by a sociologist at the University of Chicago, bigger-breasted women are actually smarter than their smaller-breasted peers. By about 10 IQ points. So much for the myth of the busty, dumb blonde.

I’m not sure what to make of that, but it’s important to remember what breasts are actually for. Research has consistently shown that children of women who breast feed—especially baby boys—gain a measurable boost in brain matter—and intelligence. While it tends to get lost in all the hype over appearance and allure, it’s important to remember that the real value of breasts is the incomparable nutrition they—and they alone—are capable of providing. There’s simply nothing better than breast milk for nurturing a newborn.

But rest assured, no matter what your cup size, if you’re like most American women, you probably worry about the shape and size of your breasts more than others might suspect. Women worry about asymmetrical breasts, for instance, even though it’s perfectly natural for one breast to be slightly larger than the other. Even big-breasted women report suffering from self-esteem and self-image problems. Given the popularity of breast augmentation—and reduction—it seems most women take the attitude that  “the grass is always greener on the other side” when it comes to evaluating their own breasts.

A study of attitudes in the 1990s towards breast size in America concluded that most Americans’ preferences are shifting towards larger breast size, at least among men. Women tended to prefer a smaller size than men. But it may be too late for that. Research suggests that American women now have the largest breasts, on average, in the world.

Some of that reflects better understanding of true cup size, rising obesity rates, and the continuing popularity of breast augmentation surgery. The latter, however, is no sure ticket to paradise. Research also shows that women who undergo breast augmentation surgery are more likely to suffer from depression, and are more prone to suicide. Which suggests that it’s probably best to appreciate what you have, and set aside any doubts or thoughts of envy.  

Isaacs EB1, Fischl BR, et al. Impact of breast milk on intelligence quotient, brain size, and white matter development. Pediatr Res. 2010 Apr;67(4):357-62. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181d026da.

Laura C. Nuzzi, Felecia E. Cerrato, Michelle L. Webb, Heather R. Faulkner, Erika M. Walsh, Amy D. DiVasta, Arin K. Greene, Brian I. Labow. Psychological Impact of Breast Asymmetry on Adolescents. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2014; 134 (6): 1116 DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000000736


Tags:  genetics, body image