I’m not sure if any guys read this blog, but if they do and are uncomfortable with my rant about girls’ chest sizes in YA, then I apologize and invite you to go read something manlier and full of testosterone. For those of you who are left, this
rant discussion is coming about thanks to some recent books I’ve read that have reminded me how much I hate the whole “My life sucks because of this and this and because I have a small chest while all the mean girl, cheerleading blondes have had huge boobs since middle school.”
I understand that YA books normally involve growing up and finally becoming comfortable in your body, and that includes getting used to the lovely changes that come about through puberty. If there were books about girls feeling awkward because they’re adjusting, I don’t think I would have such a problem. My problem is with protagonists who feel the need to whine about having flat chests and thinking that means they’re inconsolable losers who will never ever get a guy.
Unlike Lilly here, I am not saying this in a happy, excited tone, I am saying this in a “please shut up already because I don’t want to listen to your whining anymore” tone. Big difference.
The most recent book that employed this annoying trait was Sloppy Firsts. (Warning: if you love Jessica Darling and don’t like hearing bad things about her books, turn away, turn away now before my less-than-loving feelings about her ruin your day!) You see, Jessica kind of whines and complains about many things, so it’s easy to get lost, but one thing that stood out to me was at least one annoying mention of how unfair the world was to saddle her with a flat chest, or something along those lines. She’s very smart, an amazing athlete, has an awesome friend (sure, she moved away, but she still seems like an awesome friend) and she has a fairly charmed life in a likely upper-middle class household where she really complains about nothing (yet she does it so much). She has so many great things going for her, yet she complains about being flat and thus never getting a guy.
If you can’t tell what she’s saying, you clearly need to watch the movie. Or, you know, just look at the first GIF for reference.
Not all girls seem to complain as much, but I have noticed a trend. Hmm, how to make the awkward loner who the mean girls mock ever more awkward and mockable? Oh, I know, let’s make her flat-chested as well! After all, she has to be thin, so she should be the type of girl who has no curves to speak of – that’s much better than having a girl who has curves everywhere is better represents real teenagers! Then she can also angst about not having boobs and she can find that ONE SPECIAL DRESS that magically gives her curves without really being curvy (which seems to be code for “overweight” without being meaning, at least when this is applied to the sassy best friend).
See? Mia gets the guy now that she has a fancy dress that shows she obviously isn’t as flat as she implies earlier in the movie! (Sorry, couldn’t find a GIF that shows lower, but trust me, because obviously I know what I’m talking about!)
Wow, this started out as me getting annoyed with flat-chested girls that only seem to be flat-chested because it better explains why they aren’t popular (yes, because you must have at least a B cup in order to become popular, they totally test you), but I hadn’t realized until I began talking about it that it’s yet another example of YA protagonist almost exclusively being thin (and white, but that’s a post for another day or other blogs that talk about it much better than I do).
So, anyway, this is something that I want out of YA books, or at least most. Yes, girls come in all shapes and sizes and so should protagonists, but too often girls seem to think that they’re freaks simply because they wear an A cup. It seems to be yet another way of making girls seem awkward (like brown hair/brown eyes combo) but instead sending out a bad message to the readers who might share these traits and didn’t realize that they’re signs they aren’t as good as other girls. I feel like this is more of a problem with earlier contemporaries (such as Jessica Darling and The Princess Diaries, thus the GIFs – see, I have perfect reasoning, why would you think I do these things randomly?!), but it’s still around and it’s annoying. There are other ways of making protagonists awkward – you don’t need to take away their boobs to do so.
The GIFs came from here.