The Boobs Have It

Display in museum in New York City
Do you know how many breasts I have touched? 

Thousands of them.

It is staggering when I reflect upon it. 

So many breasts. So very many. All shapes and colors and sizes. Hairy. Not hairy. Moles and rashes and skin tags galore. Droopy. Perky. Somewhere in between.

During breast exams I have for years and years referred to the exam as the “boob check.” Whenever I made reference to my breasts of anyone else’s I nearly always called them boobs or boobies. 

To be honest, I thought it was cute.

Touching another woman’s breasts makes me uncomfortable, maybe even a bit embarrassed. I feel the same when someone else is looking at or touching mine in a nonsexual, clinical sort of way. So I made fun of breasts and joked about the situation. It took some of the sting out of the situation to act goofy.

One of the many beautiful things about blogging  is that from time to time someone says something that makes me reexamine a part of my life and causes me to make some changes. 

Mark at Exile on Pain Street made a comment on one of my blog posts a while back (ok, maybe it was WAY back in July of 2015) that has stuck with me:

“I hate that word. Boobs…. Boobs sounds comical and crude. It lacks decorum. They’re beautiful! Not something to make fun of.”

This. From a MAN. 

At first, I blew it off. What does he know about women’s bodies anyway? What gives him the right to tell me what is disrespectful about the term boobs. I can can dang well call them anything I want, can’t I? I own a pair after all.

But it ate at me. 

And I felt kind of guilty.

I would take that comment out from time to time and chew on it. The word boob is, after all, another way to refer to someone who is a fool. An idiot. My breasts are way better than that, aren’t they? So are every other woman’s breasts for that matter. They give pleasure. They give life. Right or wrong, so much of who we are as women is wrapped up in these exocrine glands. I would never tell a man to show me his “twig and berries” if I were doing a genital exam. Why do I persist in denigrating the female anatomy during office visits? 

Excellent question.

Yesterday I was telling a woman to change into my lovely blue paper gown so we could do a breast exam when it struck me…

When was the last time I called them boobs?

It had been a long, long time, I realized.

And that made me smile…

Advertisements

128 thoughts on “The Boobs Have It

  1. Interesting.
    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone clinical refer to them as boobs. I’m really trying to think, but I can’t remember any instance. I suppose it could lend a bit of levity, familiarity… or be offensive, depending on the brain the breasts are with.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Exactly… I kind of felt uncomfortable using the term “boobs” and have always stuck to breasts. Calling them boobs made me feel like a hormonal teenage boy who has nothing to do but gawk at sports illustrated!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I read this ten seconds after I sent a “boob” message to one of my girlfriends. I never think of it as negative. I think of it as humorous or folksy. But as another commenter said, it depends on the brain that’s attached to the boob.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Twig and berries! I like it! Although, I think a chap might be a bit put out by that name. At least meat-and-two-veg (as we say over the pond) sounds quite substantial. And don’t get me started on the monikers for the lady area…

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Mine was always referred to as a breast by the doctors and my surgeon. They did smile when I called the lump Humphrey, and they stuck with that. In my posts though it has always been boob: the blue boob, loobing the boob, I much prefer calling them that to ‘tits’ which is even more demeaning in my book.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I kind of shy away from the term ‘breasts’ too, preferring to use the word ‘boobs.’ It is silly I suppose especially at my age, but whenever I hear ‘penis,’ scrotum’, ‘vagina’ etc I want to giggle like a schoolgirl although I have to use ‘grown up’ words at work! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate telling a man I need to check his penis or scrotum or prostate out. The look on their face and the stuttering that ensues makes me feel like I should crack a joke or use slang to ease the tension but what do you say? Ain’t nuthin gonna make that better.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think you’re fine. You were just trying to ease the awkwardness of the situation, and boob is just common vernacular. While I certainly agree with him, that boobs are beautiful, and I love them too, I have to call overreaction there. Being professional is one thing. Being completely sterile at all times with a patient is another. I prefer a little bedside manner, and even humor, as both a patient AND as a clinician. You did nothing wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, Mark is a great guy. I value opposing points of view, even if I don’t agree necessarily right off the bat. I was pondering your own comment and thinking back: I’ve never had a guy refer to my breasts as boobs. Ever. Would I be offended if they did? Maybe. It really matters though what your partner prefers. That being said, I joke around an awful lot with my patients. My change in breast terminology will never affect that! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting development of the topic. I followed it through all the comments. Perhaps as a professional it is best to keep it on the professional level.
    I had a patient once who called her nether region “the bird”.
    (just to add to the information out there)
    Leslie

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on Medicine From The Trenches and commented:
    When I read this wonderful post from a fellow physician blogger, I knew I had to reblog this. I felt exactly the same as my very gifted colleague during my surgical intern year on my Breast Surgery rotation. Yes, it’s been a long time since I have referred to breasts as “boobs” out of respect for the miracle that is the human body and all its parts. Enjoy this wisdom.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. For me I need to joke to get through a Dr.’s appointment. Just for me depending on the Dr. I’d rather they joke and be less clinical. I don’t feel like the word boobs is demeaning it’s what they are. There are however other terms for them that are demeaning. I guess it would all depend on the person/s involved and where they’re coming from and what makes both parties most comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. Much respect to Exile’s comment though. Great to hear that from a guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I respect people who share different opinions. I enjoy being challenged when it makes me think like Mark did. I’m glad to hear you are comfortable with a female provider! πŸ™‚

      Like

  11. What an interesting post. When I first read that someone objected to you using the word boob, I thought, “Geez, get a life”, but the more I read and then thought about it, I don’t think I have ever had a doctor (male or female) call a breast a “boob”. But had they, I would not have been offended. Tits or jugs would have shocked me as I think of them as vulgar. I guess using breast is the least offensive.
    And “twigs and berries” made me laugh out loud. Never heard that before.
    Now, I have a question for you. How many people come in with “bare floors” versus “carpeting” in the genital area? I know it has been a trend for a few years but has the majority of the population become hairless??? Inquiring minds need to know!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have patients apologizing ALL of the time for not shaving or waxing before their exam. I tell them that if they seriously think their doctor cares, they need a new doctor! πŸ™‚ Having no hair does not make my job easier and it carries health risks so I prefer patients not do it. Still, a large portion of my teen-60 year old population is bare, or at the least very closely trimmed. How many exactly? That I could not say. It certainly is not even close to everyone.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, I might be more inclined to keep my Lady Garden weed whacked if I could actually ever see it. But having had a C-section and being fat, the overhang is too big to ever see what is going on down there. I suppose I should take a mirror and check it out as who knows what might have taken up residence since no one is tending it!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  12. I certainly would not object to the word boobs but you’re right, the words we have for them are either too formal or too informal. We probably need a new word! But as your experiences suggest, perhaps when you’re are “handling” certain parts professionally, there’s no word in the world that will make it more comfortable. You don’t like it, we don’t like it, but it must be done.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Interesting. I’ve never given it a thought – calling them boobs. I wonder if it’s more that we use the word in a negative way when not referring to breasts. The same way we do with other body parts (and forgive me) like ass, dick, cock, c**t, (sorry) but why is it we use words for our genitals and private areas to throw insults? Because really, those parts are pretty awesome.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Boobs… a word I didn’t use when I wanted them, and they didn’t arrive until 18. When they evolved, I still didn’t like the word. When they found something suspicious and I worried I’d lose them, I called them what I always have…the girls.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I like “the girls”. Or “ladies”. I don’t know why or even when I first started referring to them as boobs. In fact in my family we did not reference them by any name at all. Hell. We just didn’t reference them, period.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. We’ve so many different slang terms in the UK for bits of the anatomy that I am rarely offended by them, but I don’t recall ever hearing a doctor calling them anything other than breasts. Mammary glands, maybe? Though at my age (65) and never having had kids, I don’t think mine actually know what they were meant for!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I never thought of how derogatory BOOB was. Boob=idiot. My best friend and I, both well endowed, call ourselves “Sister-Tits” I think Boobs are fun and ok but I would want my MD to use the word breast. I think there is a time and place. What I do hate is what women call their vagina. “V- JAYJAY, Muff,..Swedgwick the bearded clam, and so on…. And don’t call me or any other woman a cunt…..unless she really is! What is in a name… a rose by any other name…..

    Liked by 3 people

    • We can be so disrespectful to ourselves and each other, can’t we? When you think about what men and women have done over the centuries because of those areas of real estate, the anatomy certainly should command more respect! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  17. The word ‘boob’ does not offend me. It’s a word. It’s how it would be used that might make a difference. If a caring and careful person was treating me and used the word ‘boob’ it would be accepted as part of their care. I appreciate you as a human being and a doctor. And if calling them ‘boobs’ for years helped you the human being to be the caring doctor you are….no harm done.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Well, Dr Delore, you really got the women talking on this one. I’ve heard lots of women refer to breasts as boobs and girls and sagging bags. But you had me laughing at twig and berries, like the other commenter who also thought it was funny. I’ve heard the vagina called vajayjay and the vacant spot down there. Frankly, if boobs makes the exam less embarrassing then gee, I see nothing wrong with the word if it makes a patient laugh or eases the tension.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The thing about it is I don’t know what people are thinking when I say boobs but ultimately it was a decision to give myself and others a bit more respect. I can be silly and joke around and ease tension without using the word Boob most of the time. Now, there may be situations that I need to use it, and I certainly would if I had to, but easing away from the term feels right. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Then.. there’s the “boob job” – makes me cringe every time.
    Curious how with the passage of time, we can reflect and re-examine our instinctive reactions.. and then, sometimes (not always, of course) we allow ourselves to consider and accept a different point of view. A lesson that I’m still learning. Thanks for calling a breast a breast πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 4 people

  20. I should’ve added beautiful and FUN. Aren’t they fun? I think so. The big shock to me was when I discovered they weren’t my personal playthings. Not for our mutual entertainment and pleasure at all. Rather, they produce food. Took my ego a good, long while to get past that one.

    And, Sweet Mother of Jesus, don’t call them exocrine glands.

    Thanks for the link. It’s like winning a prize.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Words are so interesting. What they mean is so dependent on culture and context. And why are we so weird about naked bodies? Can we blame it on religion? It really makes no sense, yet I have the taboos ingrained in me even as I can see the absurdity.
    I never liked the sound of the word boob. And it makes me feel like women are reduced to one body part. But it depends on who is saying it and how they are using it…(K)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Context does matter. As does personal preference. Honestly I had never given thought to the term Boob in any other contexts until Mark’s comment. When I thought about why I used the term about myself, I was not trying to be complementary about my breasts at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I am a little conflicted. I always call them boobs and would understand that you were trying to make me feel comfortable. On the other hand, I winced when my lady gynecologist asked me if I wanted to go potty. Whaaaat!!! Well done for adapting to what patients might be offended by. Please don’t say “Go Potty” to anyone. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I had a patient once who got breast enhancement at eighty-one. She said she’d always had beautiful breasts till seventy five and missed them. They were still perky when I took care f her ten years later.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I read all the way to the end, but never found the word my granddaughter told me when she was in high school: “BREASTICLES.” I shall be more careful now, though, after reading all the comments, with my 17-year boob-cancer survivor daughter-in-law (an R.N.) who always refers to her girls as her boobs. (My wife thinks her girls are getting smaller as she loses weight.)

    Liked by 3 people

  25. I’ve always called them boobs, too, mainly because it seems easier to say than “breasts”–as though there’s a great deal more work. They’re the same number of syllables still. But I have to be careful as my bff gets offended, thinking boobs is crass or like what a juvenile boy would say. She’s got me there.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Thank you for liking my post “Part 767 – There’s So Much Love Festing Going On Over Here. It’s Amazing.” Unfortunately my full post wasn’t saved. So, I accidently posted the incomplete version. Sorry about that! 😦 I’m not even sure how that happened. It made me die just a little. Like all over my keyboard.

    I have retyped the missing part and reposted it.

    Thanks for continuing to follow me. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Hey Victo,

    I think if I had touched thousands of breasts it would also feature quite highly in my ‘mammary memory’ πŸ™‚

    Breast exam – why not call it Breast Test and give it the acronym BT.

    I pursued interest in the etymology of the word ‘Boob’, with one site suggesting it has origins in the Latin, ‘puppa’ meaning little girl. In its Germanic form puppa may have been replaced with ‘bubbi’ and was further corrupted by use in slang to the word we know today as ‘boobs’ in the late 16th century. I got to thinking that perhaps as you rightly suggest there comes a point where a woman leaves behind the little girl, moving from boobs to breasts as she learns to fully appreciate why she has been gifted with them in the first place. Hence I think it valid to differentiate the words boob and breasts in this regard: in respect of one’s age and maturity.

    ‘Twig and berries’ – so funny! It sounds like the name of an old English pub but if we are stopping for a drink I’m having nothing shaken or stirred, thank you πŸ™‚

    Thank you for an interesting post. Like others it will give me pause for thought when using certain words I might otherwise have considered as innocuous or socially acceptable. From now on I shall respect the breast more than I do already. πŸ™‚

    Perhaps with chance to titivate for a night out your weekend will titillate with pleasure. Take care.

    Namaste πŸ™‚

    DN

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Thanks for making my day lol. As words go, breasts sounds dignified and beautiful while boobs sound less so. I could handle a female doctor saying boobs but if a male doctor did, it would sound more sexual. But that’s just me. ‘ A rose my any other name would smell as sweet.’

    Liked by 3 people

  29. I feel the same way about all anatomy. When my daughter was growing up we didn’t say ” your pee pee” or any other cutsie words. It’s a vagina. So we called it that. But boobs do go by many names too and I like that you reevaluated your name for them. I love when blogging gives someone else the opportunity to alter your thinking in a good enlightening way.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. I forgot to mention the saying my husband and I came up with for women. Again, women have boobs but men are boobs. That is the definition of the word boobs according to women. Here is the one for nuts according to men. Men have nuts. Women are nuts.

    I think both definitions say it all about male and female relationships!

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s