Most people experience some insecurity regarding one or more of their physical traits. While some concerns are more prevalent at particular life stages (e.g., acne during adolescence), others are likely operative throughout one’s life (e.g., worries about being overweight). Furthermore, while both men and women experience body image dissatisfaction, some of the discontent is sex-specific (e.g., height and hair loss for men; facial wrinkles and shape of buttocks for women). Readers might remember one of my earlier Psychology Today articles titled "Facts and Myths About the Human Penis" in which I described several studies that had explored various facets of penis size, one of which dealt with the attitudinal incongruity between men and women on the matter at hand. Lever, Frederick and Peplau (2006) showed that while 55% of men were satisfied with their penis size, a whopping 85% of women were satisfied with their man’s member. Is there a similar incongruity between the sexes when it comes to the size and shape of women’s breasts? In today’s article, I report a subset of the findings from a 2008 study by the same authors (albeit the order of authorship is Frederick, Peplau, & Lever) published in International Journal of Sexual Health in which this issue was tackled.
Heterosexual individuals (men = 25,524; women = 26,703) ranging from 18 to 65 years old took part in the survey that was posted on two websites (MSNBC.com and Elle.com). Numerous measures were collected (e.g., body mass index, age, body exposure concerns, self-rated attractiveness) as these were analyzed in conjunction with a woman’s breast satisfaction. However, I will restrict my focus here on the four-item measure that captured breast satisfaction: Satisfied (“yes, I like everything about them”), Desire Larger (“no, I wish they were bigger”), Desire Smaller (“no, I wish they were smaller”), or Too Droopy (“yes, I’m okay with the size but unhappy they droop”). Here are the relevant results (percentages add up to 100):
Women (regarding their own breasts)
Desire larger breasts 28%
Desire smaller breast 9%
Believe breasts are too droopy 33%
Men (regarding their partners’ breasts)
Desire larger breasts 20%
Desire smaller breast 4%
Believe breasts are too droopy 20%
While 70% of the women were dissatisfied with some aspect of their breasts, a majority of men (56%) were content with their partner’s breasts. So similar to the incongruity exhibited by men and women regarding penis size to which I referred in the opening paragraph, women’s insecurities regarding their breasts are not supported by their men’s views on said parts. Of note, breast augmentation surgery has been the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure since 2006 (American Society of Plastic Surgeons Report, 2012).
Readers interested in other breast-themed articles should visit my earlier posts on the effect of a female hitchhiker’s breast size on the likelihood of her being picked up, as well as the relationship between breast size and tips garnered by waitresses.
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