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Five Conversation Starters: Boobs, Boobs, Boobs

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The media's collective eyes seem locked below neck level. After Us Magazine reported that Kate Hudson was filling out her bikinis with some surgical assistance, the Web came alive with speculation, opinions and -- that tried-and-true muckraking technique - side-by-side photo comparisons. Hudson's modest chest served as appetizer for the latest mass circulation of paparazzi shots showing the mind-blowing mammaries of Jersey Shore's J-Woww and The Hills's Heidi Montag.

Other breasts were out on a political mission. After an Iranian cleric said that earthquakes are caused by women dressing provocatively and tempting men, Purdue student Jennifer McCreight's proposed that women around the world wear their most cleavage-revealing shirts in a mass experiment. "Boobquake" went viral, spawning hundreds of news stories - but no conclusive link between sexy tops and seismic activity.

Oh sure, we all like to pretend we spent our evenings engaged in sparkling repartee about Goethe or Gauguin, but let's be real. A few hours and a few drinks in, the conversation usually devolves into an argument about whether Kim Kardashian or Kristin Cavallari better fills out a bikini. Might as well be ready with a few facts up your sleeve. Or...er...down your shirt.

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Staring at them won't improve your health.
The power of wishful thinking has kept this one alive for a decade. Back in 2000, the Weekly World News proclaimed, "Looking at Big Boobs Adds Years to a Man's Life!" Apparently some bogus gerontologist named Dr. Franz Epping claimed, "Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female such as Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson Lee is equivalent to a 30-minute aerobic workout." Even though the story was eventually exposed as a lie, this particular rumor just won't die. Something about Dr. Epping's advice (watch budget women-in-prison movies and read Playboy as often as possible) seems to strike a chord. Shocker.

Hollywood is losing its taste for ta-tas.
The New York Times recently spoke to a contingent of Hollywood casting agents sick of silicon starlets - they want natural breasts for authentic period films. Last month's call for the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise sought "beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants."

Three? More common than you think.
Apparently Mark Wahlberg, Tilda Swinton and Lily Allen all have third nipples, and they're not alone: up to six percent of people have some form of polymastia (latin for freakish extra boobs), ranging from a relatively innocuous nubbin to a fully-formed, fully-functional breast. Back when witches were still hunted, extra nipples were thought of as "witch's teats" used to feed a familiar. Those with extra breast bits were tortured and killed. Whereas now they just become successful actors and singers.

Man Boobs stretch back for millenia.
In the U.S., breast reduction is one of the top five surgical procedures for men (behind liposuction, rhinoplasty and eyelid surgery), and is becoming more and more common among teen boys. But male anxiety about burgeoning breasts goes way back: Roman physician Cornelius Celsus described breast reduction in men as early as 50 A.D.

At work, medium is just right.
It's no surprise that a breast expert argued that women with large boobs and cleavage are perceived as being less professional than those with medium-sized breasts. What's more surprising is that men said the about woman with small chests. Apparently, Goldilocks was on to something.

Facts of your own? Put 'em in the comments (but keep it clean, friends!).
Photo credit: Daniel Spillere Andrade

Contact Frances at francesmcinnis@gmail.com or www.francesmcinnis.com.