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Her writing was snappy, funny, hip, over the top, confiding… This essay about having small breasts is echt Ephron. She was desperate from a young age to be a visibly womanly woman, a woman — she quotes that hideous song from Annie Get Your Gun — “as soft and as sweet as a nursery.” For that, she needed very visible breasts, but hers never grew. She wore tiny ridiculous bras, then padded bras. A friend tries to cheer her up:

“When you get married,” Libby explained, “your husband will touch your breasts and rub them and kiss them and they’ll grow.”

But “no one would ever want to marry me. I had no breasts. I would never have breasts.”

She describes, throughout her life, “a never-ending stream of women who have made competitive remarks to me about breast size.” She remains “obsessed by breasts. … If I had had them, I would have been a completely different person.” Breasts are “the hang-up of my life.”

One nice thing about her breast essay is that it unexpectedly becomes more cranky and crazy and obsessed about the subject. Usually essays like these describe maturing into equanimity about a particular fixation, or experiencing some breakthrough moment that calms you down about it. Not Ephron’s.

Breasty friends of Ephron’s claim that the ridicule and unwelcome attention they’ve endured is worse than her small-breasted misery. She responds, by way of concluding her essay: “I think they are full of shit.”


She’s right about that, by the way. They are full of shit. To have generous pretty breasts is a great thing – a source of erotic pleasure, obviously, and – given that Ephron shared a breast obsession with a billion or so men – a powerful attractor.

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4 Responses to “Nora Ephron has died.”

  1. Mike S. Says:

    as an adult male human I will say a few things:
    i) breasts R awesome
    ii) small breasts are a subset of breasts
    iii) i & ii imply that small breasts are awesome, and…
    iv) women often don’t have much appreciation for statements i-iii above b/c they’d prefer to be regarded as something more than ‘bipedal w/breasts’

    on the one hand, forgive me UD!
    on the other hand, why should I apologize for eons of evolution and the present set of interactions between men, women, their brains and endocrine systems?

    also, too, breasts.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    No need to apologize, Mike. You’ve said, er, a mouthful.


  3. L. Marie Says:

    I’m really only familiar with Nora Ephron through her films, but this essay makes me want to read everything she’s ever written. Why? Because, despite the generational and ethnic difference between the two of us, I see every bit of my own neurosis about my A-cup existence in the essay. “If I had had them, I would have been a completely different person. I honestly believe that.” And so do I. Ha!

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    L. Marie: I think you’re both probably right. I (and my sisters) have large breasts and it definitely made a difference for all of us.

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