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Blood, sweat and underwire an obituary for my breasts.

Blood, sweat and underwire an obituary for my breasts.

. 6 min read

When everyone else thinks your boobs are great, but you don’t…who’s correct? And who has the final say?

A few years ago, I stumbled across the work of Laura Dodsworth. She’s a writer, photographer and filmmaker, well-known for her photography project ‘Bare Reality’. Basically, it’s a photographic catalogue of breasts, penises, vulvas and vaginas, generously bared for our examination by volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. I found the collection of breasts the most fascinating. Tiny ones. Round ones. Long ones. Breasts that point down like the ears of a loveable dog, breasts that each point in different directions. Stretch marks and mastectomy scars - the kind of features we often try to hide, rather than display.

I’ve always been curious about bodies. In my work as an escort, I’m constantly meeting new people and seeing them naked. You might assume that this means I’m totally body-positive, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

On the one hand, I believe that everyone has the right to feel sexual (and sexy) no matter what they look like. Most of my clients are average guys who are perfectly capable of enjoying their bodies, once they’ve mustered up the courage to get naked in front of me. I’m proud of them, and I love the fact that sexual pleasure is so democratic. But sometimes that kind of acceptance doesn’t quite make it over to my side of the bed. Although my work is about more than just the physical, it’s almost impossible to avoid comparing my appearance with others. When I scroll through sex worker Twitter, or browse advertisements, or listen to my regulars tell stories of the amazing providers they’ve met in the past, I can’t help comparing myself to those retouched images and idealistic memories.

‘Bare Reality’ helped me see things differently. So many different breasts, of all shapes and sizes - I realised that the images of cleavage that I’d previously consumed - not just in the sex industry, but also in magazines and on television - are only a small part of the big picture. There are plenty of boobs out there that don’t look like a centrefold spread - and far from being shameful, it’s normal.

My introduction to breasts was far from average.

When I was nineteen, I walked into a fetish club in Sydney for the first time, and was smitten by someone with very impressive cleavage. The woman who would become my BDSM mistress for a number of years was tall, voluptuous and no-nonsense. She wore a leather corset and towering patent fetish heels. I’d only recently discovered my bisexuality, and the way she carried her body, without shame or fear, left me short of breath.

It wasn’t a typical adolescence. The first lacy lingerie set I ever purchased was used for the sole purpose of getting up on stage and being spanked in front of a crowd of delighted kinksters. Many of them told me I’d been blessed with really good tits. Our resident jazz entertainer, an old guy who sang Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet hits and had slept with more women than I’d had Saturday nights out, told me I had ‘a great rack’. Rather than awkward encounters with fumbling boyfriends, my first experiences of my body in relation to others were loud, sweaty, and involved enthusiastic applause.

But outside the scene, things were different. I wasn’t completely insulated from society’s judgement. I remember being a reluctant guest at a partner’s friend’s wedding, squeezed into an uncomfortable dress and seated at a table of strangers. All the guys kept staring at my chest, and their wives and girlfriends refused to speak to me altogether. My breasts, it seemed, could be a curse as well as a blessing.

I’ve never felt completely comfortable with my boobs.

I love my body primarily for what it can do, not what it looks like. I want to be functional: lift a hundred kilos, run twenty kilometres, then (after a shower, obviously) have electric, testosterone-fuelled sex. I’ve always felt encumbered by having what amounts to two squishy grapefruits stuck to the front of my ribs.

More than just fitness, I suspect that my personal take on gender is a little different. My stereotypically feminine characteristics - the long hair, the big boobs, the perky butt - are fun to play with in various social and sexual situations, but I’ve never felt as though they needed to be permanent. I love my cleavage one day, then want to hide it the next. Even though I have a ‘great rack’ (thanks, Frank) I still enjoy wearing men’s flannel shirts. And getting that shirt buttoned up can be tricky when your breasts refuse to sit flat!

Aged thirty-five, sitting in a cafe with a curvy girlfriend, I remarked “Do you ever get that feeling that your body is just a meat suit you sometimes wish you could zip right off?” Her horrified face revealed that indeed, some other people do feel very attached to their ‘bits’, and don’t secretly desire to swap them out the way you’d pop a Doc Johnson dildo off your strap-on after you’re done using it.

I’m not trying to say that breasts are bad. They are, for many people, deeply relevant to their sense of gender, their pleasure, and how they feel about themselves. That experience has even more layers if you’re a sex worker, where your physical attributes (and the feedback you receive from peers and clients) form part of a complicated picture around self-worth and earning potential. If you love your breasts - or if they’ve simply made you a lot of money - that’s valid.

Some people are emotionally attached to their breasts…I’m just not very attached to mine.

So, next month, I’m getting them adjusted. Body modification? Plastic surgery? Call it what you will, I’ve decided to go under the knife. This time next month, my boobs will be half their original size.

Like a butterfly turning back into a caterpillar, I’m choosing to move away from what many folks assume is the ideal for femme-presenting people. I feel conflicted; there’s a critical voice in my head saying, “Do you hate your body that much? Is a painful and potentially life-threatening medical procedure really worth it?” Yup, not only do we shame ourselves for having imperfect bodies, we shame ourselves for choosing surgery, too. I’m recalling those magazine articles I’ve read in doctor’s waiting rooms about people who ‘went too far’ with their nose jobs and tummy tucks, as though there’s some sort of sensible limit to plastic surgery, and if we cross it we become freaks and outcasts. Just like that ‘magical number’ of sexual partners where ‘fun girl’ turns into ‘slut’, there’s an amount of bodily enhancement that’s deemed acceptable and an amount that isn’t.

And just like the idea of ‘sluthood’, I think that distinction is utter bullshit.

Last month I was working on a blog about sex-worker-produced merchandise for Tryst and came across ‘Be a Bimbo’, a SW-owned fashion brand that shamelessly promotes the ‘barbie doll’ aesthetic. Hyper-feminine, bright pink, embracing trends such as breast enhancement, the site reassured me that it’s okay to want what we want, no matter what Women’s Weekly says. Even though ‘super femme’ isn’t my aesthetic, I’m still choosing to mold my body to my own liking, and that’s perfectly fine.

I have mixed feelings about announcing this.

I was planning a few months’ break, then hoped to go back to work as if nothing had happened. Would clients even notice?

But now it’s out in the open, and it’ll be interesting to observe how my customers react - whether they feel a sense of loss, or pick up on my enthusiasm for a body that’s closer to my personal ideal. In the sex industry, it’s easy to assume that our physical characteristics are our most important assets, but of course they’re not - it’s often more about what’s between our ears. In all likelihood, my next booking will be more about discussing the election results or the virtues of zinfandel varietals, than critiquing the ways I’ve changed.

If we can’t get into our bodies, play around with them, suffer accidental scrapes and bruises, and pick ourselves back up again, where’s the fun? What’s the use of being human if I can’t enjoy it the way I want, in the limited time I have?

Sex work has emphasised the importance of appearance a little more than I’d like. But it’s also allowed me to experience my body from a variety of viewpoints: my pleasure in the moment, my gendered attributes as valuable commodities, and through the eyes of my clients. From the dude who loves saggy boobs to the guy who thought I was a DD-cup, everyone has a different take.

This myriad of lenses has shattered the illusion of ‘perfect’ and given me permission to experiment. I’m looking forward to having this adventure. I’ll take blood, stitches, fun, sweat and laughter over perfect tits…natural or otherwise.