SOCIAL SCIENCES

A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me--And You

Pegasus. Mar. 2021. 312p. ISBN 9781643136226. $27.95. SOC SCI
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In this quirky book, Lehr encourages readers to think about the social construction of the breast along with the reality of how beauty standards and the facts and fictions of desirability have played a role in her own changing cup size—and in the lives of many others. She talks about beauty queens, cheerleaders, and the myriad narratives around female embodiment before turning to her own story as a mother, a single woman, a cancer survivor, and more, in stories that seamlessly blend social critique, humor, and pain. This social history spans the 20th century, from the golden age of the pinup girl during World War II to the onset of TV advertising in the 1950s and the launch of Playboy magazine in 1953. Lehr also includes a history of the bra, from its origins as a handkerchief to replace a corset in 1910 to the push-up bra in the 1940s to bras as high fashion in the 21st century. For Lehr, laughter and shame are irrevocably intertwined when talking about breasts or bras, especially her stories of breastfeeding and, later, undergoing chemotherapy after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
VERDICT A unique blend of memoir and social history that should have broad appeal to anyone who has breasts or has ever worn a bra.

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