Why Do Girls Have Breasts?

This is somewhat strange, but it’s good material for a weekend when there’s no other news. At the website of the Daily Mirror, a Labour oriented British tabloid published in London, we found this headline: Mums slam ‘growing up’ book for boys naming the ‘two reasons’ girls have breasts.

Gasp! What are the two reasons? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Parents have been left outraged by a ‘growing up’ book for boys that apparently details two reasons for girls having breasts. [According to some blogger, the book] says that breasts are multipurpose – not only are they for feeding babies, but also to ‘make girls seem grown-up and attractive’.

Your Curmudgeon is stunned! Let’s read on:

The page reads: “Girls have breasts for two reasons. One is to make milk for babies. The other is to make the girl look grown-up and attractive. Virtually all breasts, no matter what size or shape they end up when a girl finishes puberty, can do both things”.

Multi-functional! That’s very interesting. The Mirror informs us:

The title is said to be published by Usborne, which produces numerous books for young children.

Wikipedia has a write-up on them: Usborne Publishing. It says they’re a United Kingdom-based publisher of children’s literature, and we get the impression that it’s a respectable operation. Here’s a link to the publisher’s page for the book. It looks innocent enough.

Then the newspaper says:

As such, hundreds have slammed the material, claiming that it teaches young boys to ‘objectify women’.

That’s horrible! After that they copy a bunch of critical tweets (or Facebook posts, or something), which we’ll skip, and then they tell us:

The overarching sentiment is that the book gives the impression that girls grow breasts for the benefit of their sexuality and attractiveness. Not only this, but it also – by going on to say “virtually all…” – suggests that some breasts aren’t attractive at all.

Oh, how cruel! The story continues:

One reader also shared photos of what is apparently the version of the same book for girls. [Facebook stuff omitted.] This edition says much the same. It reads: “Often the first growing-up change that boys notice about girls is their breasts. .. “…they look attractive; and they’re sensitive to touch.”

This is an outrage! Anyway, that’s where the news story ends, but it’s followed by an online poll where the question is: “Parents, would you use this material to teach your kids about ‘growing up’?” We don’t see any way for readers to know what the current poll results are.

Aside from the virtue — or lack thereof — of those books from Usborne Publishing, we have a question for you, dear reader. If you disagree with what those books say, then what is your explanation of the purpose of those, ah … organs? But we caution you: please be discrete! This is a family-oriented blog.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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41 responses to “Why Do Girls Have Breasts?

  1. Christine Janis

    I think the person who wrote this is a tit.

  2. Christine Janis, do you mean me, or the Mirror‘s writer?

  3. Christine Janis

    The Mirror writer, of course! I think you’re my bosom buddy

  4. If my man boobs are not there to produce milk, should I assume they are there to make me look grown-up and attractive?

  5. Ross Cameron

    Enter Bob Hope`s theme song–Thanks for the mammaries

  6. This is not politically correct but I would approach the question from a different angle:
    Are there any heterosexual males who do not find large, nonsaggy, symmetrical female (sorry imamonkey2) breasts attractive?

  7. And if your answer is yes, then I think you need to re-evaluate the heterosexual caveate.

  8. And Christine beat (no pun intended) to the tit/ bosom buddy comments, although I was going to label the mirror article author a boob.

  9. Do we have any information about when in the history of primates large breasts appeared?

  10. Usborne is a highy respected children’s publisher.

    But this talk of “reasons” is question-begging, and we need to discuss the cleavage between adaptationist and genetic drift approaches to evolution, both of which have strong support.

    In this context, I commend Ramachandran’s wonderful spoof Medical Hypotheses article, Why do gentlemen prefer blondes? http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~sousa/teach/rama.pdf

  11. Christine Janis

    Does nobody else here remember Desmond Morris’s hypothesis? That basically boobs represent a mimicking of the orbs of the buttocks, that came to be selected when our behaviour “evolved” from doggie style to face to face mating.

  12. I remember it well. I think he mentioned the coloration of the buttocks of female non-human apes when receptive

  13. Christine Janis

    Now you’re making me blush

  14. It’s an udder mystery to me.

  15. Dave Luckett

    Me, I think SC’s instruction to “be discrete”, that is, to take things separately, one by one, is very difficult to follow, given the subject.

  16. Even people who otherwise accept evolution through natural selection often suddenly revert to human exceptionalism when a morally sensitive area is involved. The religious already do so when it is suggested we are cousins of the apes, and there were never just two of us. The nonreligious hold out until sexual selection is involved; then, all of a sudden, our behaviour is strictly cultural and not ape-like.

    And then there are the postmodernists, who are willing to claim that even the human sexes themselves are an invention, or occur on a spectrum.

  17. Breasts are like model railways: we claim they are for the children, but daddy plays with them more.

  18. And here I thought girls did not find me attractive because I’m an old fat dude! But it’s because I don’t have breasts!! So it aint my fault! Gawd did it!

  19. Hans Ø. Tjelle

    Maybe breasts have some secret adaptive advantage? Distracting cave bears or beating up potential rapists or something.

    Jokes aside, there could be some unknown function which could be uncovered by further research, so we can’t claim to actually know the reason why human ladies have permanent breasts. But for the purposes of educating our younger citicens, I don’t think that distinction is necessary.

  20. Eddie Janssen

    Geoffrey Miller: The Mating Mind, chapter 7 (Bodies of Evidence) has something to say about the subject.

  21. You Darwinist fools!

    The human female breast is yet another data point proving that our Privileged Planet was painstakingly fine-tuned so that one day mankind would develop the Ta-Ta-Towel

  22. TomS asks

    Do we have any information about when in the history of primates large breasts appeared?


    In women, they invariably arise with puberty.

    In men, they optionally arise following a diet too heavy with junk food.

  23. Hmmm, noticed this post seemed to generate the most comment in a shorter amount of time than the usual SC post. Wonder why that is? 🙂

  24. You people need to come to grips with this issue head on! Don’t give me any of this “on the one hand, on the other hand …”

  25. Tom – yes. Depends on what you mean by large, but smaller, more attractive. Christine – yes, some of us remember the Morris hypothesis.

  26. Olivia’s cups runneth over…

  27. Please, I am asking about paleontonlogy.

  28. I agree with the book but to answer Curmy’s question, assuming I disagreed with the book, the only alternate function I can think of is similar to a camel’s hump (must.. resist.. crude.. joke).
    That is, resource storage.

  29. Serious response, for a change. I think the whole issue here is wording . . . as in the explanation for WHY. There are a number of characteristics (whew) that cause boys and girls to notice each other, but are those WHY a characteristic exists or just an side topic? Using that second explanation as a why is what I think got the author/publisher in trouble. Damn, being serious on this topic is harder than I thought.

  30. The primary function of breasts is to convey sexual attractiveness. The breasts that develop in puberty in girls aren’t composed of mammary glands, it is a layer of fat. While I realize that feminists abhor the unfairness that nature conveys on humanity, breasts aren’t too different from a peacock’s showy display.
    In biology, form correlates with function. This should never be construed as an example of intelligent design (another criticism of the book). Evolution has created a huge number of functions, zero designs.

  31. Holding the Line in Florida

    Size appears to be mostly irrelevant for most men in my opinion. As Frank Zappa put it “Girls, do you have munchkin tits? Remember that anything over a mouthful is wasted!”

  32. Related from a good friend whose wife, whenever she caught him eyeing a well endowed female would say “You do realize those aren’t real?”

    To which he would reply… “You do realize we don’t care?!”

  33. Retired Prof

    Dave Luckett said, “Me, I think SC’s instruction to “be discrete”, that is, to take things separately, one by one, is very difficult to follow, given the subject.”

    Difficult, but not impossible. There’s a limerick that does it.

    A comely young miss from Assizes
    Had boobies of two different sizes.
    The one was quite small
    And worth nothing at all,
    But the other was large and won prizes.

  34. Apparently this idiot doesn’t realize that developed breasts are a sign of (at least biological) maturity, and big ones are (to our primitive instincts) a sign of health (“this woman isn’t depleted by disease and/or starvation”).

  35. Christine Janis

    None of these speculations address a rather key point: why is there so much individual variation in what’s supposed to be a secondary sexual characteristic, hence indication of maturity/fecundity or whatever. Breasts might be largely made of fatty tissue, but their size is not all that correlated with the overall amount of fatty tissue on their owners.

  36. If breasts are such valuable attributes, then why don’t women have more of them, like the Hindu goddess Durga has multiple arms? For a multi-breasted goddess, Google for “Artemis of Ephesus.” The mutation sometimes occurs — see Accessory breast, but it doesn’t seem to make a woman attractive.

  37. Obviously because God only has the two, since we were made is HIS image. Hmm, seems to be a logic error in there. Hermaphrodeity?

  38. I suppose meeting a woman with eight arms would creep out most men a tad and I don’t think Durga is equipped with them for erotical reasons. Neither would she be very helpful with your household chores unless you have an infestation of buffalo demons at home.

  39. @The Curmudgeon
    You may be interested in Aristotle’s explanation that the number of nipples is related to the average litter size.

  40. Men have two hands, women have two breasts (usually). Do we need more proof of Intelligent design?