“A Boob’s Life” Author Leslie Lehr to Lead Virtual Talk on Body Positivity

By Tom McLaughlin

Body positivity will be the focus as Rutgers University–Camden welcomes author and breast cancer survivor Leslie Lehr for a candid and refreshing interactive Zoom session.

The all-virtual session, which is free of charge and open to the public, will be held at 12:45 p.m. Thursday, April 22. Advance registration is required.

Lehr will discuss her prize-winning book, A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me… And You, and answer questions from guests.

Charlotte Markey, a professor of psychology at Rutgers–Camden, lauds the importance of Lehr’s message, noting that a 2020 study published in the journal Body Image revealed that approximately 70% of women from 40 countries investigated were dissatisfied with their breasts. Moreover, 5% of women in the United States have gotten breast implants.

“Maybe it’s time to understand what’s going on,” says Markey, author of the books The Body Image Book for Girls, Smart People Don’t Diet, and Body Positive. “Breasts are everywhere in the media, but have received little social scientific inquiry. Yet, they obviously contribute to body dissatisfaction among women, and body dissatisfaction has far-reaching consequences. For many women, coping with this dissatisfaction includes surgery.”

Lehr’s book includes autobiographical information as well as a thorough historical account of Americans’ preoccupation with breasts in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Leslie Lehr

“It’s intriguing, interesting, and time we started to offer honest conversation about women’s bodies,” says Markey, who helped arrange the talk. “The end goal is for people to feel good about themselves.”

The Rutgers–Camden psychologist explains that, when people do feel good about their bodies, it translates into feeling good about themselves in general. She adds that many people have spent the past year feeling anxious and afraid, with mental health suffering as a result. A focus on body positivity is timely, she says, as people are “ready to get back to being out in the world.”

“They’ll get their haircut by a professional, they’ll be implored to lose weight by Weight Watchers, and they’ll buy some new clothes,” she says. “There are even some reports that the pandemic has led to an increased interest in cosmetic surgery.”

Only weeks since its release, Lehr’s book has already gained a lot of attention. Salma Hayek is even planning to turn it into a comedic series for HBO Max. Nonetheless, the sudden success is no surprise to Markey.

“It strikes a chord,” she says. “It’s something people worry about, think about, want, want to change, etc., and yet there’s little open dialogue about women’s breasts.”

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