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We Shouldn’t Have To Say This: Breasts, Areolae, and Nipples Vary In Appearance

It’s critical that we call out and interrogate the misogynoir at the forefront of people’s reactions to Cardi B’s breasts.

By Sherronda J. Brown and Lara Witt

We really shouldn’t have to even say this, but it’s a fact that breasts, nipples, and areolae vary in size, color, position, and shape, and even in texture. Throughout just one, single person’s lifetime—due to age, hormonal fluctuations, and like, literal biology—our breasts can change in appearance, along with the rest of our body. Pairs of breasts themselves are not even identical! Most people naturally have one breast that is larger than the other, and this asymmetry is not anything to be ashamed of. 

However, none of this stops people from actively expecting breasts to look a certain way based on their own imagination or unrealistic expectations built up by porn and photoshop, and they often collapse in shock and disgust whenever their projected fantasy of “acceptable” breasts isn’t represented on their screens (or in-person). 

Much of this projection and precise expectation can be attributed to the sexualization of full breasts, and because these full breasts are associated with cis women’s bodies, this mindset is also the result of misogyny. Beyond that, there are racial aspects always at play in the scrutiny of our bodies, and features that are more commonly seen on bodies of color become the most demonized and ridiculed—among such features are large, dark areolae. 

One of the things that capitalism does best is convince us that we should be insecure about our bodies. It works in tandem with the likes of diet culture to continually push the idea that we should always be laboring over our bodies, and if our manufactured flaws cannot be fixed with our own labor, then we have to pay for it. Along with procedures like liposuction and breast enhancements, cosmetic surgeons also offer nipple and areola reduction surgeries—“a procedure that reduces their size for better aesthetic balance.” 

This week, we’ve had the misfortune of witnessing actual adults having actual conniptions about the size of Cardi B.’s areolae when she accidentally uploaded a nude to her Instagram stories on Sunday. One person even left a comment asking the rapper, “why yo areolas so big.” And not that anyone ever needs to have a reason for their physical appearance, she responded confidently, “breastfed a baby for three months! t**ties got bigger so nipples got bigger. Let me know if your daddy wanna get breastfed!”

The double standard couldn’t be more apparent than when Chris Evans’ leaked nude (or dick pic rather) showed up on the interwebs just a few weeks ago and resulted in a very different kind of reaction. There were calls to respect his privacy and directives from fans to flood Twitter with non-nude shots of the actor to shuffle any screenshots further down the algorithm. This respect for Evan’s privacy and autonomy should be the norm for all. 

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It’s critical that we interrogate how we view the bodies of marginalized genders and in this case, we must call out the misogynoir at the forefront of people’s reactions to Cardi B’s breasts. There is little to no autonomy and privacy granted to Black women’s bodies, and it’s essential to fight for that autonomy, because what may be seen as an innocuous instance of misogyny actually has much deeper roots in how this world treats Black women. 

Fatphobia, white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, and capitalism are vicious things that all result in the non-stop, ever-grinding gears pressing us into boxes of unrealistic, torturous expectations, and abuse. And the most marginalized suffer exponentially from all of these oppressions working in tandem. 

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