Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I am Tits.
May 7, 2012 7:27 PM   Subscribe

The Story of My Man Boobs
posted by latkes (30 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I only see my man boobs manifest themselves in photos. After being briefly horrified I go back to eating my greasy pizza. If they ever get bigger than my wife's, which are freakin' huge, I'll probably have to take action. Now back to pizza.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:39 PM on May 7, 2012


Thanks for posting this! I always cringe at jokes about such things, knowing that they prey on people's deepest insecurities about gender and body image.
posted by hermitosis at 7:44 PM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also: WaPo: Men with Breast Cancer Fare Worse than Women
posted by Stoatfarm at 7:46 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Folks maybe wait til later in the thread to wade in with your fight club references that not everyone is going to get?]
posted by jessamyn at 7:48 PM on May 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Men are supposed to have flat chests, hairy bodies and big penises. Women are supposed to have large breasts, thin hairless bodies and tidy labias.

In magazines, sure. In movies, I see a fair number of guys with different body types (though the women mostly fit into far more narrow categories).
posted by Forktine at 8:01 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's hard about bullying is that you can pretty much get singled out for anything, whether you're "supposed" to have it or not. That's why kids that age are so obsessed with conformity, because pretty much anything that stands out can become your visual catch-phrase.

I also think that's where the strength in goth and other subcultures come from -- by flagrantly refusing to fit into the expected look, you exercise some control over what people will notice and hassle you over.
posted by hermitosis at 8:06 PM on May 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


Men are supposed to have flat chests, hairy bodies and big penises. Women are supposed to have large breasts, thin hairless bodies and tidy labias.

Someone needs to reread for tone.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:20 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


HuffPo commenters and PETA adds aren't what I would turn to for the barometer of public sentiment.

For another take on this, on his podcast Scott Thompson of Kids In The Hall fame spoke about his treatment for cancer that caused him to grow breasts. It was heartbreaking.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:40 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there some great reservoir of pro man-breast public sentiment out there that we should know about? Because if not, then these two examples seem just as apt as any.
posted by hermitosis at 8:52 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh the author used to work for Xtreme Elvis. I knew that dude, and even stayed at his place in SF for a while once on tour.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:00 PM on May 7, 2012


I've had breasts for 15 years or so. I hate them but can't afford the $6.5k surgery to send them away. They're not tiny.

I've been to a few specialists / experts and some say it's bad gynecomastia and some say it's fat.

I am not even that fat--20 pounds heavy, I'd guess (5'8", 175lbs). One of the reasons I do not lose the weight is because when I do (I've been as low as 160 in the past 5 years), the breasts just look larger because my stomach doesn't come to my shirt.

With the exception of my lovers (who are few and far between the last 8 years--guess why!), I don't take my shirt off in front of other people. I don't go in the ocean or in pools, I shower at home after workouts. I've worn black t-shirts every day for more than a decade--yes, that means I work retail. It's near impossible to find non t-shirts or jackets that fit well.

I'm pretty confident in most areas of life and think that's why I've never been teased about my breasts--not one single comment made to my face or (that I know of) behind my back. However, I certainly cringe whenever I hear jokes in movies and whatnot about "man-boobs". I feel terrible for guys who are shy or lack confidence who have them.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:08 PM on May 7, 2012 [31 favorites]


Well, there was some leaping into the discussion with some lazy knee-jerky "bitch tits" quotes that strongly suggested no actual R'ing of TFA had taken place.

MetaFilter is not a word association test. It's just hard to remember that sometimes because so many people comment as if it is.
posted by hermitosis at 9:09 PM on May 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Confession time! I consider myself a dude (for the most part). I'm fat, and have what some call "moobs". But I'd like to have bigger boobs. My ex has a friend who has shall we say... an excess of boob (her friend is female, btw). We used to joke about having a transplant. One time, she got me one of those cheesy bank/jar things with phrases on the side for which you're saving, you know like "computer virus" ... this one said "boob job". It's a funny joke between us.

Anyways, I'm a guy who wants boobs. Yes, I know that they are a pain in the back. I dunno. I guess I'm just weird.
posted by symbioid at 9:09 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I totally grok the author's upsetness towards supposed "liberal" folks making trans-jokes (like making fun of Ann Coulter and implying she's a man, I'm looking at you, Stephanie Miller). It's really disgusting and against everything we say we're for as liberals.
posted by symbioid at 9:11 PM on May 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Aromatizing
can be genetic or from insulin resistance or .... if you're really unlucky (not you, symbioid) both. There are nutritional protocols that can help this.
posted by noaccident at 9:28 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always had them, and it's been a source of pain and shame for most of my life. Honestly, I'd love to do something about them, but I have never once heard of anything like treatment for it in Japan. It was bad enough growing up with them* in the States (which made my life a living hell as a kid) but here in Japan, it's considered perfectly acceptable to make harsh statements about other people's bodies**, it's just shitty. The thing is, I've lost weight (not now, in the past) and they were still prominent. At the slenderest I've ever been, they were still there. I wear the baggy clothes just like the author said, and if you hang up my t-shirts, you can see how tucking my knees to my chest to stretch them out has deformed them. I won't wear polo-shirts, because damn, those were invented to invite shame.

The thing is, it took me a long damn time to get to the point where I said "fuck it, I like going to the beach." and took off my shirt. I can't say I don't care, because I do. A large group of my friends has gotten into a weight shedding (I won't call it dieting, it's down-right insane how much weight their dropping, and how quickly) manliness contest. Every time I see them, their quick to give me their own idea on how I could shape up (severe calorie restriction, one says, power lifting, another says. No, no, you should run, another says). It doesn't matter if I tell them to stop, it'll just keep coming. That, combined with the above mentioned Japanese non-taboo about fat-shaming, and fuck it.

*I really, really tried, but I can't bring myself to say anything other than 'them.'

** Years ago, when my wife introduced me to some friends she hadn't seen in a while, the first words out of their mouths were (in Japanese) "You got fat!" My wife is 5'1", and weighs maybe 100lbs. At the time, she was maybe 105, maybe 110. It took me a couple hours to stop thinking they were tremendous assholes.

posted by Ghidorah at 10:02 PM on May 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted; please take moderation discussion to Metatalk, or contact us. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 11:02 PM on May 7, 2012


"Body police." People can be jerks. We just laugh - my husband and I get called "Ladies" from time to time because of his moobs and lovely long hair. People do this even when he has a beard. I would have thought a waiter would be a tad more observant. I guess those moobs are just such eye-candy no one sees anything else! They are rounder since he went vegetarian and eats too much soy product, I swear. There's even one nice lady in our building who clearly thinks we are lesbians. I guess I can appear kinda butch. Maybe one day she'll figure it out.

Anyway, nice to see someone stand up against the ordinary point of view. It's ridiculous and unpleasant to criticize other people's bodies, and we should all be more accepting of differences.
posted by Listener at 11:43 PM on May 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Growing up with any non-normative body is difficult, and as difficult for boys as it is for girls. And it's only going to get worse the more drenched we are in endless images of the perfect body-type, whatever that type is. This was hard to read, especially as with a lot of horrible stuff in childhood the dream is that you get to leave it behind you when you get sme power over your own life as an adult, but that often turns out not to be true because even if you can refashion yourself, those memories don't go away. And the refashioning itself is also problematic sometimes.

Good article; I know it made me rethink some of my assumptions not just about male bodies, but about policing the way we want people to look.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:47 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


With Klinefelter's syndrome, as soon as I stopped being an ectomorph and turned toward endomorph in my 30s, I instantly expressed moobs.

I like them, and I don't find them shameful, though certainly folks have tried to shame me over them. These days I choose sex partners who appreciate them and I just do my best to love my body and be accepting of its morphology.

Also, books like Fat!So? and Big Big Love really help with this kind of thing (being or becoming more accepting of your non-normative body) if you're willing to read self-helpy sorts of books (disclaimer - I know the authors of both books personally).
posted by kalessin at 6:39 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've always had them, and it's been a source of pain and shame for most of my life.

Same here. Adolescence and young adulthood were even more painful because of them, especially as a relentlessly non-athletic bookworm. Every once in a while I consider surgery, but then I think back to the complications of breast reduction surgery that I've witnessed.

I'm still uncomfortable taking off my shirt at the beach or at the pool, but that's getting better. I'm better at accepting my "imperfections" than I used to be, but ...
posted by etherist at 6:56 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love my breasts. I've always had them, no matter how much weight I gain or lose. I didn't always love them, though, as they've always been a source of ridicule. When I was a kid, my mom used to scream at me about them and threaten to buy me bras and make me wear them to school. Way to go, mom. It's bad enough that I got that shit from kids, you didn't have to go and pile on.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:24 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good article, but nitpicking:

(If a woman’s labia are too big, it just might remind us that, with a little testosterone, the same tissue would make a penis.)

Wha? Wouldn't clitoris make more sense as a penis analog? Or more generally, the vulva?

posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm with symbioid, which is, complex.
posted by odinsdream at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2012


I had a relatively identical experience with man boobs as the author of the article. Lost weight, boobs remained - small, hard glands in them and everything. It was a great shame of my childhood, and eventually I had surgery to remove them, and, like the author, can't feel my nipples any longer. I was also a devout evangelical growing up, so it was all tied in to self blame and Job and thinking I was being punished and it was in general just a really fucked up thing.

I wrote a pretty candid and detailed account that was in the 4th issue of Metafilter Magazine (pdf).

As I note at the end of the piece I wrote, the biggest takeaway I got from my fiasco with gynecomastia was a greater sense of empathy for folks all around, because you just never know what people are going through and the lengths they go to hide it.

To those who have it and are considering the surgery - my parent's insurance did cover it, but it was kind of a fluke, and they tried taking it back before they finally relented. It's worth asking. We made the argument that it wasn't purely cosmetic. Gynecomastia is common in puberty, usually goes away in 6 months or so. In a few rare cases, it doesn't ever go away on its own. This was me. I have high estrogen levels, or so they told me at the time. These days I might be able to deal with it better, and may not get the surgery if facing the situation now. But at 17, shit, my man boobs were the great horror of my life. I don't regret it, but the surgery and the follow-ups are kind of a nightmare of their own.

I urge anyone who wants to talk about this further or knows a teenager who does and has questions about the surgery or related things to memail me.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:28 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


 I was recently stunned to hear porn actress Dana DeArmond describe me during a podcast interview as a “fat lady” while her host Joe Rogan openly theorized that my small penis was somehow connected to my feminism.

That pissed me right off. What is the matter with those people?!

And then I read that the author's surgery took away the sensation in his nipples, and that saddened me. He gets bullied into changing, and the surgery cost him even more of himself.

The whole story is just so sad. Why do people do this to each other? He should never have felt ashamed of his body. He should have been able to just jump right in and swim in that pool with the other kids.

I'm glad he's comfortable with his own body now. At least he's found some peace despite all he's been through.

God, I really need something cheerful to read now.
posted by misha at 11:57 AM on May 8, 2012


> What is the matter with those people?!

They haven't realized that mocking people's bodies is at best juvenile.
posted by Listener at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2012


Adolescence and young adulthood were even more painful because of them, especially as a relentlessly non-athletic bookworm.

I got to a point when I went to high school that I would do everything I could to sit at the front of the bus. If I sat beyond the first five rows I was going to be teased until I either started crying or got beat up for retaliating. One guy in particular made it his daily goal to ruin my day and would torment me for the entire hour long bus ride saying things I'd rather not repeat. Fighting back was a lost cause because the bus driver (who would end up convicted of child sex crimes a few years later) seemed to reveal in the violence and torture dished out to me on a daily basis. Needless to say I don't go back home that often.

I managed to have the surgery at the end of my freshman year of high school and the tormenting let down, but that was mostly because the prime tormentor got expelled and had to switch schools. Even after 20 years, I still have a hard time not hunting down my main tormentor and putting a bullet in his head for the hell he put me though. While I can take some solace is know that he's a complete failure in life, there is still a part of me that would like to pay him back for the torture and torment he put me through.

To those who have it and are considering the surgery - my parent's insurance did cover it, but it was kind of a fluke, and they tried taking it back before they finally relented.

Mine did too but my plastic surgeon was terrible - both as a surgeon and as a person. When it became clear that he had botched the surgery my dad (the least understanding parent possibly ever) had a "heart to heart" with him (read: threatened him with bodily harm) and he offered to redo it and waive his fee. This after he said "maybe he just needs to lose some weight" during our three month follow-up after I had lost 20lbs. Needless to say we passed and I now have one side that's larger than the other.

I no longer care what others think of me or my body but I do plan on having another plastic surgery to correct the failed one I had 20 years ago. I did a consultation 10 years ago and the surgeon warned me that I would probably end up with a concave chest if he did a proper reduction and removed the scar tissue from the first surgery. At this point I'm not interested in a "beach body" I just want every remaining artifact from that period of my adolescence removed - looks be damned.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 3:32 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I had perhaps a relatively unique experience in this regard. I had the situation where I had only a large growth on my right breast whereas the left side was completely typical. I am not sure when it first started to appear but it must have been around grade 6 or 7 and lasted until I was a sophomore in high school when I had a grapefruit sized mass removed from my chest.

At the time I was immensely ashamed of it and hated taking off my shirt in public. Swimming and the beach were of course especially traumatic. I went to an extremely small grade/middle school and a relatively small high school so I knew the people who teased me really well.

One of the strange things is that having only the one man boob obviously made me a bigger oddity than the other kids who were fat or chubby or whatever. However at the same time, I think most people quickly came to the realization that there was a medical problem rather than something "I must have done wrong". So inwardly I still felt like a freak eventually almost everyone was supportive and the teasing went away almost entirely except by a few people who were clearly a lot more troubled than me. Lastly, when I finally had the surgery scheduled I had lots of people that I would have never expected offer me support and privately tell me about their medical problems and the like.
posted by mmascolino at 6:21 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I transcribe for a practice specializing in breast issues. Quite a few men are seen there for possible cancers, and I'm always struck by the fact that because breast screening isn't particularly promoted for men, their cancers tend to be caught at later stages. Also, gynecomastia has become far more prevalent among adolescent males. It has been hypothesized that this could be due to hormonal imbalances from environmental triggers.

We need to grow up and get past the juvenile focus on "boobs". Our bodies, like our minds, are unique, important, and worthy of respect and protection. All of them. No exceptions.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:22 AM on May 9, 2012


« Older Grandpa Was A Baller The weird, wonderful tales of...  |  Here’s the thing, ladies: I do... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments