Why Is the Discourse Around Sydney Sweeney’s Breasts So Unhinged?

Out of all the erogenous zones, boobs are the jolliest, aren’t they? Sacks of fat and glands and ducts that add up to something far greater than the sum of their parts. You can feed babies with them; they look great in oil on canvas; I sometimes find it comforting to cup mine when I’m feeling a bit stressed. They’re simply very well-designed bits of kit, which is exactly why it pains me that, in the past few weeks, good old breasts have found themselves at the epicenter of possibly the dumbest culture war of our time.

“Are Sydney Sweeney’s breasts double-D harbingers of the death of woke?” That’s the totally normal and and not at all deranged question right-wing Canadian title The National Post posed a few weeks ago after the actor hosted Saturday Night Live. You’d think the 26-year-old had announced a Fox News x The Grim Reaper lingerie collab live on air, but no: she had simply worn a low-cut dress and cracked a few jokes about Hooters.

The title wasn’t alone in running what I can only describe as the content version of an awooga. Britain’s The Spectator hailed the Anyone But You star’s appearance on the show as the comeback of “the giggling blonde with an amazing rack… a creature shamed to the brink of extinction,” as though there’s a bunker somewhere where they’ve all been sheltering, waiting for evil feminists to stop talking so much about the male gaze and body neutrality.

“Red-blooded men” have “got used to walking on eggshells,” the piece insisted (lol), but now, thanks to Sweeney jumping and laughing while also having boobs, that era is over! They’re free from the tyrannical rule of women politely asking them not to stare at their breasts unless invited! They can admit that they only fancy girls with blonde hair, glamour model proportions, and who are, ideally, under 30! The good old days of men’s magazines, busty models jumping on trampolines as a legitimate TV segment, and Playboy bunnies not talking so much about Hugh Hefner’s extremely troubling behavior are back, baby!

Let’s call all of this what it is: really fucking strange. And it’s not the first time Sweeney’s cleavage has left members of the middle-aged bloke community and their allies behaving like they’ve never seen a breast before. There are YouTube supercuts of her topless scenes as teenager Carrie in Euphoria. She gets asked endless questions about her chest in interviews. And, yeah, a lot of this is because she is famous and sexy and it’s quite normal for people to fancy famous, sexy people (take the world’s reaction to Jeremy Allen White’s Calvin Klein shoot)—but I feel like there’s something larger at play when it comes to Sweeney’s near-constant sexualization. Society is just really weird about boobs.


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