Leslie Lehr A Boob's Life

Leslie Lehr – A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You | a review

Leslie Lehr’s A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me―and You is a memoir, a personal odyssey, as well as a cultural study of America’s deeply-rooted obsession with breasts. Lehr embarks on a journey that traces back to her early fascination with boobs during her childhood (prompted by a revealing photograph of her mother she found as a very young child). Having (or lacking) boobs defines pretty much her whole life and the way she looks at herself. Her self-image is very much tied into this vision of a perfect woman, who inevitably has large, perfectly shaped breasts. Although I did go through something similar during my teenage years (haven’t we all?), I still feel sad for that fact that Ms. Lehr went through much of her life equating some of her worth with the way her breasts look. It is undeniable that our culture is obsessed with breasts, and it is very true that a pretty woman can get farther in life than one that does not look exactly like the cheerleaders from Hollywood movies (girl next door my a**!). Boobs definitely have a lot to do with how pretty a woman is considered, but not always.

“As far back as I can remember, everywhere I’ve lived, breasts have been the Holy Grail, the quest for female perfection. I’m beginning to think breasts are more than a body part. They might be the whole game.”

Soon to be developed into an HBO TV series by Salma Hayek’s Ventanarosa, A Boob’s Life uses the metaphor of the ‘boob’ to shed light on all the unfairness and judgement that women are faced with in their everyday life. Drawing upon her own personal experience, Lehr outlines how this physical aspect of a woman’s body can define her self-worth. At certain points in the memoir she alludes to the fact that brains will not get you as far as looks will. A sad reality. Take, for example, the Miss USA beauty pageants, where many young girls only apply because the winner gets a scholarship to a prestigious school. The lucky ones, who have both the brains and the looks still have to use the latter to try to get ahead in life.

A Boob’s Life systematically takes every defining moment in a woman’s life and presents them through this distorted lens of how much a woman is worth according to her bra size. The book is really funny but also very enlightening. I especially liked the factoids at the end of every chapter (some were interesting, while others were downright shocking). The short lists of trivia and not so fun facts show everything that is wrong with America today. As someone who doesn’t live there, I cannot really understand every aspect of the issues people are faced with every day. But honestly, it’s amazing(ly upsetting) how little time has passed since women were allowed to vote. But this isn’t even the most shocking part of the story. Even though I kinda already knew, I still was taken aback by the fact that it hasn’t even been a full sixty years since black women were allowed to vote. What’s worse, the Violence Against Women Act was only expanded to Native American women, queer women and immigrants in 2013. Crazy, huh?!

I enjoyed this memoir a lot and I really tried to savour every word. As the book advances, it delves deeper into themes of inequality, gender imbalance, and the glaring injustices within the American system—a particularly poignant exploration given her proximity to Hollywood and life in Los Angeles.

While I found a lot of truth in what Ms. Lehr described in her book, I cannot fully identify with the woman whose self-worth is so inevitably tied with the way her breasts look. I understand that Ms. Lehr’s intention was to educate young ladies about the injustices they may face later in life, as well as advise them not to rely solely on their looks, or not to care so much about it (body-neutrality instead of body-positivity is a concept I can totally get behind).

Ms. Lehr describes a conversation with her daughter, Juliette, where Juliette says she isn’t a feminist. She refers to this super toxic feminism where women are subsequently considered superior, not equal. A Boob’s Life does not promote this view, it really doesn’t. But by attributing every injustice suffered by women to boobs only (I know, I know, they are meant as a metaphor), it gave me the impression that just by having breasts, a person is entitled to be treated better than the rest. I might be mistaken, I’m not sure. But I think this issue is so much more complex than this. Yes, we deserve equal pay for the same job. Yes, we deserve to be respected for what we have achieved. But first and foremost, a person should be judged by their actions. People in the workplace should be judged by merit, not looks, that I can agree with 100%.

(All women must be believed is a very dangerous idea, if you know what I mean. #justiceforjohnny) 

“It goes right back to judging women with large breasts as bimbos and small breasts as brains; women who are believed versus women who are ridiculed. Our bodies are the common denominator in the ways we are held back.”

So this brings us to the question:

Can a woman have it all? 

No, she cannot, is the simple answer. The book thoroughly, albeit quite implicitly explores this idea, the dream that is sold to women all around the world. Girls, it’s a lie. (See what I did there? I almost said ‘guys’ but then I didn’t!) You can only have it if you don’t give a 100% in any area of your life. Motherhood will suffer because of your career, or your career will suffer because of your role as a mother. Women are born to be caretakers. Whether they do it as mothers, friends, co-workers, etc. – it still remains true. The advantage of emotional maturity we have over men comes with a price.

If you try to have it all, you will not have the time to do everything perfectly. A man, on the other hand can dedicate hours on end to something he is interested in. It is unfair, I know. We can try to do something about it, as many women do. They can sacrifice one for the other and they can be very successful businesswomen or amazing mothers. But let them choose their path. Not everyone needs to have a career while also doing a man’s job at work. Not everyone has to be a mother to feel whole.

(Sidenote: Men also have a cr**load of injustices they have to deal with every day and I honestly don’t want to take sides either way. I just want to be able to see both sides of the coin. I want to be able to see the good in people, regardless of gender.)

Leslie Lehr’s narrative is fraught with struggles. Sadly, breast cancer becomes yet another hurdle she must face. Her descriptions of her experience with this horrible illness were seriously hard for me to handle. She is brutally honest about it all: treatments, her feelings, society’s attitude, etc. I don’t really want to get into her descriptions of her experiences here, but let’s just say she is one hack of a fighter and there’s a lot we can learn from her!

My Rating

As you can see A Boob’s Life is very thought-provoking. So much so that it’s hard for me to try to put everything on paper. Informative and at times light-hearted and humorous, yet occasionally challenging to take in, A Boob’s Life presents a tapestry of love and resilience. Above all, it is the story of Leslie, American women, and quite obviously, the multifaceted significance of breasts in our culture. I definitely recommend this book and I’ll give it a 4 and a half fox rating out of 5. 🦊🦊🦊🦊1/2

I honestly can’t wait for the TV series to come out! Thank you to Pegasus Book Ltd for providing a copy of this book for me to review!

America, a country in adolescence, was stunted at second base. We couldn’t have these pleasure domes distracting us from our productivity, so we hid them with clothing. But we also displayed them to be in fashion, a business based on the striptease.

Discussion Points

One of the things that was really shocking to me is how politics divides families. As someone who doesn’t live in the US and doesn’t have such starkly opposing political parties, I cannot fully understand these heated situations. What do you think about this? Is this something you experienced in your own life?

Some of the issues explored in the book are very serious, such as the abortion legislations and the 2021 march for free choice in the matter. What do you think will be the consequences for future generations?

One aspect that is thoroughly explored in A Boob’s Life is the fact that breasts are everywhere in Hollywood. You cannot watch a movie or even one episode of a TV series without seeing at least one pair of boobs. Yet, nipples are either blurred out or covered with tape. Leslie Lehr wonders about why this might be and one of the reasons she comes up with is that nipples are the body parts “where you suck”. The question is though, are they not allowed to be shown on TV because they are sacred (since they are meant to provide nutrition for babies) or because they are profane (since sucking on them as adults implies a deeply sexual act)? What are your thoughts about this?

As always, thank you for caring!

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Read this book before the show comes out!

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