Bazoomas, love humps, knockers or jugs? A couple of melons or pair of Georgie Bests perhaps? We have so many terms for breasts yet the common insecurities so many women feel towards their own have remained largely unspoken.
Enter Laura Dodsworth, an award-winning photographer who’s more than happy to snap and chat about boobs. Her upcoming book Bare Reality: 100 Women and their Breasts is the culmination of 2 years spent taking pictures of ‘real’ breasts in their full, diverse glory and speaking to the women behind them.
“Breasts become a catalyst for a conversation about intimate aspects of womanhood,” she explains. “We talked about growing up, sexuality, relationships, motherhood, breastfeeding, body image, eating disorders, the media, health, cancer and ageing. I was compelled to explore what it means to be a woman and make women subject, not object.”
Such an inspiring and frank project comes at a time when society appears to be in a quandary over cleavage. Pert, round and larger pairs are in abundance on the top shelves of newsagents, in music videos and page 3 of The Sun. But as with the rest of the media’s narrow beauty ideals, what doesn’t comply with this prescriptive impression of the perfect pair is airbrushed into faultlessness or removed altogether.
As a result, raunchy Facebook pictures of ‘sweater meat’ and profiles like ‘Best Tits 2013’ are quite acceptable but Women You Should Know wasn’t allowed to promote Dodsworth’s book on the site using the image above. Such mixed messages have fuelled anti-censorship campaigners like Free the Nipple as well as influencing women’s opinions of their own bodies.
“We see images of breasts everywhere in the media and yet images of ‘real’ breasts and actual breasts themselves, are almost never seen,” Dodsworth says. “Where is the truth, the heart and the integrity in the two-dimensional media representation of women’s beauty and sexuality? Sure, sometimes fantasy is just what we need, and sometimes we need a healthy dose of reality.”
Featuring unadulterated images of women from all walks of life, her book covers reality in all its beautiful diversity. From Buddhist nun to burlesque dancer, stripper to social worker, it includes AAA-K sized women of different sexualities and ethnicities, aged 19 – 101 years old.
The overwhelming response to the book’s Kickstarter campaign is testament to our hunger for that realism and variety in media imagery. With 24 days left to go, the crowd-funded project has already reached over 200% of the target amount needed to finish production and printing.
“In the first few days I could hardly keep up with the constant stream of messages,” Dodsworth says. “I hoped to achieve the funding over the 35 days but reached it in less than 35 hours!” Her challenge now is to reach 1,000 backers.
After such a moving exploration, the project has transformed Dodsworth’s relationship with her own breasts. “I feel more tender about myself as a woman and for the female experience in general,” she explains, “I can only hope Bare Reality will inspire and move others.”
The photographer was particularly touched by the courage of ten cancer survivors who bared scars for the project. For every book sold £1 will be donated to Breast Cancer UK. It’s a reminder that ‘imperfections’ are life’s marks and every size, shape, colour or blemish is beautiful.
The Kickstarter project will be funded on 11th October. You can receive a signed copy of the coffee table book with a pledge of £25 or more.
All images © Copyright Laura Dodsworth. All rights reserved.
Fashion Journalism student at London College of Fashion