Google and My Boobs


It all went downhill fast.

What was intended as an exploration of the Feministing archives turned, with a click of a Google Ad, into a dark examination of my own weird body obsessions (am I the only one who stands in front of a mirror poking that turkey wattle thing on their upper arm?).

This led to me self-shaming, uh, myself, about my stupidity in falling prey to manipulative and commoditized ideas of beauty, to an argument with myself about whether it is MORE feminist to be body positive, or is it more feminist to embrace my desire to be shapely and sexual and fuck off to those “feminists” who would shame me into believing that that desire means I have bought into the dystopic marketing that eats up so many women, but wait what is it about feminism that fractures us and pits woman against woman, slut-shaming and arguing over causes like so many crabs in a socially righteous barrel, or wait, is it actually, truly, the MOST feminist to rail against the corporate media and advertising machine itself, which has so accurately punctuated the Feministing blog archives with personalized Google Adsense ads for shapewear, which I research and buy with the kind of regularity that only a woman with 34DDD breasts and a lifelong terror of backfat and sloppy asymmetrical quadra-boob does?

Let’s walk through what happened here.

Step 1: I, a writer-who-writes-about-all-kinds-of-things-but-generally-not-about-feminism-but-wants-to-start, hear about So You Think You Can Blog. I think I can blog.

Step 2: I get all up and into Feministing, feel shreds of my soul slipping away every time I see Todd Akin’s name, wonder what good old Todd would say about all of the women who legitimately enjoy introducing fear and powerlessness into safe and consensual sexual relationships and oh look! STUFF FOR MY BOOBS!

Step 3: I click on the frightfully specific-to-me Google Ad popping up that moment on Feministing. It is for Leonisa, which promises me “Invisible and sexy shapewear from the #1 brand in Latin America!” [Latinas obviously understand boobs and sexiness better than women of other ethnicities.]

Step 4: A smoothing strapless bustier bra! Exactly what I am looking for!

Step 5: It doesn’t come in my size. Actually, none of the bras are larger than a DD, even in the full-figured and minimizer sections of the site. I immediately feel fat, disgusting, and like nobody will ever understand me or my body. Having boobs is not easy.

Step 6: I am disgusted with myself that something as stupid as online bra shopping has the power to make me feel disgusting.

Step 7: A Jillian Michaels banner ad asking me “How BIG is your WEIGHT LOSS goal?” does not help.

Step 8: I refresh Chrome to try and banish the source of the angst. A shoe ad pops up instead. This is like the lonelier, digital version of my best friend showing up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food after that guy with the soulful eyes tells me he loves me but he doesn’t like, love me, you know? Except I don’t live in a rom-com. And seriously, do I spend all of my time online Googling bras and shoes and researching weight loss tips? What do these ads say about me? Google has put it pretty bluntly: Choi, you’re shallow and fixated on superficial crap.

Step 9: Aforementioned downward spiral of arguing with myself about feminism, body dysmorphia, sexist media conventions, violence against women (including, of course, psychological violence) and my own self-esteem begins. It leads me to believe that I should examine these subjects with a thoughtful, critical, and diverse community, rather than talk to myself in the vacuum of my office and my own preconceptions.

Step 10: I start typing.

I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this. The existing media structures that shape our consciousness and psychology, and even our feminism, are often more powerful than we know. Even the most vigilant among us, who spend a considerable amount of time observing and deconstructing issues of media and advertising, can find these pockets in ourselves where mainstream sexism and marketing have taken occupancy. It is especially shocking to confront these issues when we are least expecting it and therefore most vulnerable to it — like when browsing feminist blogs.

My boobs are my trigger. What’s yours?

Amy S. Choi is a journalist in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation