Amputated nipples

‘Speak for yourself.’
Do you ever have the urge to say these
words when someone makes a universal pronouncement with which you disagree? 
I wanted to say it the other night
to a man whom I met via friends, who had insisted that people in England were concerned
that the face of England, its population, will be completely unrecognisable in
twenty years time.  Completely taken over
by foreigners, he wanted to say but did not, and not foreigners of Greek or European
extraction, but mostly from the Middle East.  
You can guess the rest. 
I wanted to say, look at your self.  When your parents arrived in Australia some fifty years ago they
would have suffered the same derision for being different, for coming from the
Why’s it so terrible to be
different? Why the pressure to be the same?
I feel the impulse run through me, too.
Take for instance, my latest
preoccupation with the female body and why we women do things to ourselves to
conform to some perfect ideal, even if it kills us.
In my tenth year of school I spent time as a boarder, which meant for months on end my body barely saw the light of day. 
We boarders dressed in almost
darkness with a pitcher of water on our side table and a face cloth with which we swabbed down
our more sensitive parts before covering ourselves from top to toe.
In those circumstances it mattered not to me
that I could not shave my legs or my underarms, though I had started the practice
a year earlier when, at fifteen, I decided to follow in my older sister’s footsteps
and turn my legs into the supple, shining silk-like radiant things I had seen in the new
advertisements directed at women in ‘need of ‘ shavers for the fairer
At boarding school no one worried about shaving legs
or underarms, until it came time for the school dance.  
My older sister who had left home
by then and was studying at teacher’s training college picked me up after
school one day and we travelled into the city to Adele Formal Hire where we
were able to select a gown for me to wear. 
It was in polka dot black chiffon over a satin lining.  The dress covered my legs to the ankles, but was sleeveless
in a respectable manner.  The nuns would
not tolerate anything less.  No visible
cleavage, no plunging back lines, nothing suggestive of the female body
underneath, only arms, legs and head visible. 
You could not see my legs,
but after five months in boarding school, my underarms had sprouted a fine black layer of growth.  I  took to them with fingernail scissors during the
three days each week when it was my turn to take a bath.   Boarders were rostered for separate bath times three times a week, and once a week hair washing on Saturday mornings, lined up at the basins.  
In the bathroom there was daylight
or in the early evening an overhead light that enabled me to see my body, at least in bits.  There were no mirrors.  Mirrors were not allowed in the bathrooms, too
likely to tempt the bodies that travelled through. 
One of the older nuns had told us that in
her day, girls had to bathe in mid ankle length petticoats so that they could not see
their naked bodies while bathing so as to resist temptation.  
The things women must do/did to resist,
not only their own desires, but the desires of others. 
So my preoccupation at the moment with
the nature of women’s bodies – how we preen them, how we attack them, how we strip
them of excess, how we try to whittle them into an acceptable and universal
shape, how we try to hide them, how we cover them to make them look the way we
imagine others might want, the way we want ourselves  – hit me hard when I saw a YouTubeclip of women who had undergone mastectomies, nipplectomies or other forms of surgery that have left massive scars on their otherwise ordinary bodies. 
To see these images is confronting and most
of all for me the thought that some of these women may have elected to have their nipples removed.  
Why would they do this?  For health
reasons, in the case of cancer I can understand, but the other reasons, I’m at a
loss to understand.  

7 thoughts on “Amputated nipples”

  1. women are the cause of all the sins in the world. at least that is what patriarchal religions tell us. we are temptresses who would lead men into sin with our bodies. really? are men so helpless that they are not in control, that they cannot control themselves? religion tells them they don't have to, that everything is women's fault. so we must repress ourselves, society and culture and religion tells us. I say bullshit. it's past time for men to stop acting like babies.

  2. Vanity. Conformity. Fashion.

    Three reasons for abusing one's body – both for women and men.

    But women seem to go in for more self-abuse than men. Breast enhancement, (occasionally reduction), body piercing, botoxing and now, more and more, tattooing. I feel sorry for those ladies who go in for such things in order to become more 'attractive'. Sad, when, as is often the case, it has the opposite effect, in my view.

  3. I have never understood the need to muck around with the human form. I don’t even shave nowadays. I stopped when I was eighteen and although I’ve lost the beard a few times in between it’s never been for long basically because I think shaving’s unnatural. I have no intention of getting on a soapbox to try to convince fellow men to stop shaving—what they choose to do with their own bodies is entirely up to them—but unless some medical reason forces me to—sometimes I get some dry patches that can be a bit irritating—I’m keeping the beard. I wash it and trim it but that’s about it.

    I have no tattoos and no piercings. Never wanted either. Never understood people getting them. My wife has pierced ears—no doubt done in her early teens—and she wears earrings some of which are very nice (I’ve bought her some that are very nice) but if her ears weren’t pierced it wouldn’t bother me. My mother never had her ears pierced. She had clip-ons. It tried them on once and have no idea how she could tolerate wearing them for longer than it took to have her photo taken.

    I’ve never been attracted to women who wear a lot of makeup and most of my relationships have been with women who wore hardly any, a touch of eye shadow or some lip gloss. The more a woman goes out of her way to change how she looks the less I like it. Like all men I like boobs. Puzzles the hell out of me why I do—seriously, I’ve never been able to understand what is so attractive about them (the scene from Birdy where he lifts up a girl’s breast and mumbles something about overgrown mammary glands has never left me)—but I accept that I’m hardwired to appreciate them. I don’t mind if they’re big or small but bigger is better unless they’re too big and ‘too big’ usually means they’ve been enhanced. Silicon-filled boobs don’t do much for me. If anything I find them a bit off-putting. And once they’ve become supersized, well they’re just a joke. Not sure I have strong opinions on nipples. I could live without mine but they don’t annoy me enough to have them lopped off.

    I did know a girl once who had breast reduction surgery done. She wasn’t ugly but she was far from being beautiful and she knew it. But Nature has blessed her with a truly impressive pair of breasts and it seemed that none of the blokes she encountered ever looked above her neck and she got so depressed by this that she went to her doctor and asked for the surgery which—unusually for the NHS considering her age (she was about sixteen at the time)—they went ahead with it.

    I think it’s wonderful what doctors can do nowadays. Truly wonderful. The damage they can fix. But then some woman comes along with a wad of cash and says (albeit in not so many words): I can’t be arsed dieting so here’s some money; just suck the fat out for me. Or I want my nose to look like such-and-such a celebrity’s. Or I want horns and a tail because that would really be a conversation starter at dinner parties. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s meant to be a nice thing. It’s not when you think about it. Not when the beholder tells you you’re ugly because you don’t conform to what they consider beautiful.

    As for the changing face of England… I saw a television programme a while back that featured an Australian painter, Anne Zahalka, who paints stylised beach scenes that subvert what it means to be “Australian”. Well, it’s no different here. The world is changing, not just England. Get over it. I’d like to think in Scotland we’re a bit more accepting than that. There are bigots and racists of every nationality but I’ve not come across too many intolerant Scots. Drunk Scots, well that’s another thing entirely.

  4. I was in London, Paris and Scotland this summer. The mass immigration has already taken place, just like here in the larger metro and urban areas in the States. They have improved the cultures, especially tolerance toward our differences even within the many remaining pockets of hate. In London especially it’s improved the choices when looking for a good meal☺
    It’s amazing the degree humans will go in order to control other humans. I truly don’t understand why anyone knowing what we know today would have anything to do with organized religions of any kind. It has to be the fear of going against these organizations that threaten with fear to control their parasitical places in the world. I once believed education would eventually succeed in exposing them. I don’t anymore. So many will continue or be forced to believe. Reason, thinking will continue to be discouraged or forbidden. The lack of truly objective education I think explains the still overwhelming discrimination girls and women endure. Long established control of women, though recently showing signs of weakening, still has a long way to go. Those looking to organized religion to help them, need to take a good look at these male based organizations that are truly the real enemy working still to keep women under their control.
    It’s actually not that hard to understand, to make the leap, and accept the need of some to carry out such mutilations.
    Enjoyed your post.

  5. When you say boarder do you mean on the perimeter? like the ones who makes bird calls when disturbed?

    or do you mean "in between" like the ways London used different nationalities to represent spirits, spirits inhabiting a body, and God in his books about Jerry of the Is Land?

    Do you know about those with "raiment white as snow" the clear people/see-through AKA invisible?

    Nearly all your posts are laden with subtle sexual content, like the kind that got snuck into the New Testament, see if you can decipher when and exactly where Paul transitions to describing pubic hair and church orgies in first Corinthians chapter 11

    Is any of this making sense to you , yet, Lisabet, do you know who invented the Phillips head screw driver?

    Do you realize that if people don't think critically during these days, the press will sell the fear of so well our govt wouldn't hesitate to go Kennedy on the next elect, for doing nothing but seeing the hype for the truth of what IT IS?

    These are dangerous times, males will destroy this Earth by any of it's names if The People are willing to allow it

    You need to spit it out, go ahead and say it, truthfully, and quit acting like an irresponsible man

    yes I am aware how redundant that is, it's like saying ignorant male or something so similar

  6. I haven't been round to visit your blog in quite some time, Elisabeth, and I breathe a sigh of relief that I did so tonight. As always, your post is provocative and gives me much to chew and thing about! I am struck, immediately, though, by the harshness of your school and the shaming that went on. The legacy of the Catholic church is just horrifying.

Leave a Reply to ellen abbott Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *