Last week, The Sun reported a study by a plastic surgeon called Dr Patrick Mallucci, who proclaimed to have discovered the formula for "perfect" breasts. What was his scientific methodology? Analysing photographs of 100 of The Sun's Page 3 girls. Bafflingly, Mallucci spent three months on this study. That's just over one pair of tits a day - on a process that would take a 15-year-old boy a few hours and a fistful of lube.
Mallucci identified a number of key "mathematical" features: firstly, that the upper hemisphere of the boob was 10% less full than the lower hemisphere; secondly, that the nipples were angled upwards at 20 degrees; finally, the skin sloped flatly or inward above the nipple but curved out below it.
Supposedly, the more a breast deviated from these ideals, the less attractive it was deemed to be. In case you were wondering – as I was – if this was just a piece of PR puff for The Sun, the study was actually published in the International Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.
While I can appreciate the fact that surgeons might want to quantify some of the features that woman might look for when they are considering a breast augmentation, I find it extraordinary that the study was so reductive. Breasts can be perfect in all shapes and sizes, and what works on "Nikkala, 19, from Derby with a pithy opinion on the Eurozone" won't suit everyone.
The second, bigger, problem I have with this study is the sample. Instead of taking an assortment of bosoms and getting men and women to rate them, Mallucci restricted the sample to Page 3 models. He told the Sun that "Page 3 made me question what it is that makes readers find these breasts appealing." What this means is that the perfect breast shape for women should be defined by men, specifically The Sun's target 'white van men'. A woman can't possibly be considered attractive unless her plumber gets pointy-pants when surveying her bosom.
I wouldn't be surprised if Dr Mallucci installed a panel of Sun readers into his surgery. Any client contemplating a breast augmentation will have to "get them out for the lads". If the jubblies don't meet the standards of these discerning men, then the woman will be instantly whisked into general anaesthesia and signed up for surgery, putting an end to a lifetime of un-wolf-whistled walks past building sites.
These sorts of studies help to promote the insecurities that keep cosmetic surgeons in business.
We should celebrate our boobs for their achievements over and above how attractive they are to members of the opposite sex. What about boobs that have battled and defeated cancer? Or those that have nourished children? So what if they have war wounds or stretch marks? So what if you are blessed with bee stings or bazungas? Or even one of each? Our mammaries shouldn't have to conform to mathematical formulae.
By Olivia Solon