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The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden

The Story of My Tits

by Jennifer Hayden

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I added this book to my to-read list after reading Nancy Powell's in-depth review in Shelf Awareness. Hayden's graphic memoir is "an emotionally gripping and self-deprecating, yet good-natured tale of cancer survival and a celebration of all things inherently female." Wow! Must read this, I thought, and put it on hold at the library.

But having finished the book, I can't agree that it's a "landmark work deserving a place in the pantheon of comics artists," even though Hayden is certainly talented. Her choice to frame her life through the story of her breasts is creative, her narrative compelling. She builds a moving story, tragedy striking with an emotional intensity.

But ultimately marring the memoir is the blatant, unchallenged misogyny. You can't ignore it — Hayden grows up in a family where her father leaves issues Playboy on the living room table for his daughters to aspire to, and before she's even hit puberty she knows that her mother's ultimate pride is in having big enough breasts to impress her husband. Hayden internalizes this world view wholesale, and breasts, and boys, become the all-consuming drama of her life. "Do boys like tits or personality?" she asks, worried, as a teen lacking the former, that she has no value in the economy of patriarchy. She dates men who make misogynistic jokes and endlessly comment on her body as representation of her worth. She defends her philandering misogynist of a father — a man who, let's be clear, abandons his once well-endowed wife when she's hit by breast cancer — and refuses to forgive herself for not forgiving him immediately. This man is described, mildly, by Hayden's boyfriend as a "skirt-chaser" — probably the harshest term to befall him in the entire book.

The degree of misogyny in the men around Hayden, alongside her own unchallenged internalized misogyny, is hard to stomach. And it's no fault of Hayden's that she grows up as a woman in a woman-hating world. But, disappointingly, she doesn't grow in this regard. She moves from "Boys like tits, not personality" to "Boys like both," but never ever considers the possibility that she doesn't exist for boys, that what boys like is not the point.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
Jennifer Hayden tells the story of her tits, her mother's tits, and her mother-in-law's lungs. It's not easy to decide to pick up a story that you already know is about cancer, but with a title like this one, how could you not want to try. And it's worth it - Hayden does a really good job at making a difficult tale not only heartfelt and sincere, but really quite funny. Sure, you're bound to shed a few tears during this read, but the overall take-away is optimism and peace. The drawings are simple, but not simplistic and, when it counts, conveys some very difficult feelings in an honest and punch-in-the-gut manner. Highly recommended for anyone who has had a loved one be diagnosed with cancer. And to anyone who hasn't. ( )
  -Eva- | Mar 26, 2016 |
Jennifer Hayden looks at her life before, during and after breast cancer, her choices in having a radical mastectomy and how it has shaded her life. It's worth a read, introspective but life-affirming.

Which reminds me, should set up a reminder on my phone about my boob squish this year. Before my annual oncologists visit. (for a different cancer) ( )
  wyvernfriend | Jan 12, 2016 |
I just finished The Story of My Tits, thanks to msf59's recommendation, and it was topnotch. It centers around the author's and her family's experiences with breast cancer, and also covers such things as her growing up and family life. It's told with wit and humor and compassion, and could easily sit on the shelf next to Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant. ( )
  jnwelch | Dec 12, 2015 |
I read this hefty Graphic Memoir in one evening and loved every minute of it. The author's relationship with her breasts, from childhood through adolescence and wild young adulthood, through motherhood, and through breast cancer -- all this is the vehicle for a poignant, honest, funny, and sweet memoir about life. The heartbreak of parental disappointment, the joy of finding a true love (and his flawed and wonderful family!), the terror of facing death and loss and uncertainty -- it's all there. As the narrator finds redemption in coming to terms with her body as it is, and as she learns that it is not her; as she finds meaning and solace in the absence of meaning, I resonated with joy. The novel made me chuckle and it made me cry; in that it joins a list of favorite reads for the year. ( )
3 vote EBT1002 | Nov 30, 2015 |
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"When Jennifer Hayden was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43, she realized that her tits told a story. Across a lifetime, they'd held so many meanings: hope and fear, pride and embarrassment, life and death. And then they were gone. Now, their story has become a way of understanding her story: a journey from the innocence of youth to the chaos of adulthood, through her mother's mastectomy, her father's mistress, her husband's music, and the endlessly evolving definition of family. As cancer strikes three different lives, some relationships crumble while others emerge even stronger, and this sarcastic child of the '70s finally finds a goddess she can believe in" --… (more)

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