I recently read the node Why do men like women's breasts? and discovered that a misconception existed -- large breasts have not been worshipped throughout history, as some would have you believe.

Marital, the Roman poet, wrote of the perfect breast as not overflowing one hand. Ancient Roman women, in fact, wore garments designed to support and suppress the bosom. Renaissance corsets squashed the breast in addition to the rest of the body. (belgand has pointed out to me that corsets tend to create cleavage as well) Europeans and Americans through the mid-1800s still preferred smaller, perky breasts with smooth contours.

Until recently, large breasts were seen as maternal, better suited to a wet nurse than to a beautiful woman. This may as well have been due to their impracticality -- a functional bra is a relatively modern invention.

Source: An Underground Education, by Richard Zacks. Truly badass well-researched book.

Also, in the Roaring Twenties, the ideal figure was slim and boyish (flat) - flapper styles were cut straight to flatter that figure. Kinda similar to models nowadays, who rarely ever have breasts half the size of mine (that's a complaint, not a brag) - unless they're models in sex toy catalogs. Don't ask me how i know that.

Body shape is one of those things about fashion that fluctuates madly. However, it is seen as more essential to one's self than the clothing one wears, and there are a lot of buried cultural valuations placed on it. (Please also read sensitivity and fat people.) For example, i suspect that people think of me as motherly for the reason mentioned above. And i also think that i would not be so hung up on gender identity and body image if i did not have such an undeniably female body.

Large breasts did feature prominently in a lot of very early artwork and fetishes (in the traditional, not the modern sense). This is usually because the images had some ritual and symbolic significance having to do with fertility, and by extension, bounty, continuation, and wealth. There are similar images with enlarged phalli, hands, noses, stomachs - while it is true that there are places where roundness in general is seen as attractive, the intention of these figures and drawings were not to make images of attractive women and their breasts but to perform a function. You think they drew the buffalo hunt for fun? Well, maybe they did. But they also had a ritual purpose.

1st of all: WHy do we only speak of Europeans and Americans?!?

2nd of all: If you're going to go back to Roman time, why don't we go even back before that to Africa. For example, the Gumuz who live along the Nile River have horn-blowing contests and the song they sing with it has the theme: "My girl has big breasts and a big behind;she is the shapliest and most beautiful of all." They still sing this today. This has been going on for thousands of years without stop. There definitely is some sort natural attraction to big bazooms, in my opinion it just depends on the person.

thanks National Geographic December, 2000
Please note that in Japan, the old tradition was to not to pay attention to breasts at all. Indeed, in feudal Japan before Western influence, the female body, nude or no, was never seen as a beauty, but almost entirely ignored. Murasaki Shikubu, a writer from the Heian period and author of The Tale of Genji, writes, "Unforgettably horrible is the naked body. It really does not have the slightest charm."

Chinese influence brought focus to the nude body, and especially well-developed breasts. In the T'ang dynasty, beauty was seen in quite portly women, well-rounded and plump. When Chinese culture was imported into Japan, this preference came along; however, the prevailing attitude was that the female form was not aesthetically pleasing at all. The focus for a woman's attractiveness was on mainly hair and clothing choice, rather than bust size or almost any other physical aspect.

However, Japan has long been the exception, rather than the rule.

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