Tits Up: What Sex Workers, Milk Bankers, Plastic Surgeons, Bra Designers, and Witches Tell Us about Breasts (Hardcover)

Tits Up: What Sex Workers, Milk Bankers, Plastic Surgeons, Bra Designers, and Witches Tell Us about Breasts By Sarah Thornton Cover Image
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An innovative investigation of the five strange worlds that worship women’s chests.

After years of biopsies, best-selling author Sarah Thornton made the difficult decision to have a double mastectomy. But, after her reconstructive surgery, she was perplexed: What had she lost? And gained? An experienced sleuth, she resolved to venture behind the scenes to uncover the social and cultural significance of breasts.

Riotous and galvanizing, Tits Up excavates the diverse truths of mammary glands from the strip club to the operating room, from the nation’s oldest human milk bank to the fit rooms of bra designers. Thornton draws insights from plastic surgeons, lactation consultants, body-positive witches, lingerie models, and “free the nipple” activists to explore the status of breasts as emblems of femininity. She examines how women’s chests have become a billion-dollar business, as well as a stage for debates about race, class, gender, and desire. Everywhere she turns, Thornton encounters chauvinist myths about this elemental body part that quietly justify deficits in women’s bodily autonomy and endorse shortfalls in their political status. Blending sociology, reportage, and personal narrative with refreshing optimism and wit, Thornton has one overriding ambition—to liberate breasts from centuries of patriarchal prejudice.

About the Author

Sarah Thornton is a sociologist and author of three critically acclaimed books, including the international bestseller Seven Days in the Art World. She was a scholar-in-residence at University of California, Berkeley, for three years while writing Tits Up. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Praise For…

[Thornton’s] impassioned polemic makes a convincing case that the derogatory way Western culture views tits…helps perpetuate the patriarchy…Tits Up asks readers to reimagine the bosom, no matter its size and shape, as a site of empowerment and even divinity…[D]eceptively trenchant.

— Lucinda Rosenfeld - New York Times Book Review

[A] colorful new volume…The book’s trajectory is an uplifting one, with its five chapters exploring different hard-to-access Bay Area arenas rife with breast-related decisions and transactions…All of these immersive experiences left Thornton in a newfound state of wonder about the magic of mammaries.
— Julie Zigoris - San Francisco Standard

Thornton honors her subject throughout Tits Up through her meticulous research and critical contemplation…Tits Up might read like an ethnographic dissertation about breasts with the thesis that words matter. And they do. But just underneath that is a softer, more subtle message that art heals—as do encounters with the spectacular array of souls out there in the wide and varied world.

— Mieke Marple - ZYZZYVA

Required reading that expertly convers the ways in which social constructions, sexualization, and economic viability influence people's views of bodies, their own and others'.
— Library Journal (starred review)

Thornton's research and interviews are exhaustive, entertaining and enlightening…Tits Up is a revelatory look at many different facets of this oh-so-vital body part…One thing is for sure, you'll never think of boobs the same way again.

— BookPage

With intelligence and humor, Thornton examines how breasts can help women create new visions of themselves.
— Kirkus

With a sociologist's eye, a reporter's nose, and a Double D brain, Sarah Thornton explores the contradictions, power, and fundamental formidability of breasts. What a treat to follow her into worlds largely unknown as she upends culture-bound thinking and exposes breasts for what they are (or should be): a part of a woman, to be shown or not shown, used or not used, as she and she alone deems fit. Exquisitely written and consistently illuminating.
— Mary Roach, New York Times bestselling author

Tits Up is Sarah Thornton at her best: irreverent, witty, deeply researched, and enlightening. I learned a lot.

— Judy Chicago, artist

Sarah Thornton offers a revealing look at our most misunderstood organ. Her message is both powerful and overdue: it’s time for us to shape the narrative of our own bodies.
— Florence Williams, author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393881028
ISBN-10: 0393881024
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English