When I compared Catherine Tate to Christina Hendricks last month and said that Tate owns her boobs, my husband looked at me in alarm. “Are Christina Hendricks’ boobs fake?” he asked. I assured him they were very real, but then I couldn’t explain what I meant. This post is an attempt to do that.

One way to think about it is the difference between renting and owning.  When I rent a car, I blast the air conditioner before the car’s engine has had a chance to warm up, and I would never pay for a car wash. When I own the car, I’m much more gentle with the engine, and I’ll invest in keeping the car clean.  When I rented an apartment, I never made permanent changes to it, but now that we own our home, I’ve installed a nice closet system, painted the bedroom and even planted tulips for the last five years. Along these lines, a woman who owns her boobs takes responsibility for them. She makes sure she has the right bras even though they cost a lot, and instead of baggy tee shirts, she wears the best-fitting clothes she can find.

But that analogy only touches the surface. Here’s another comparison–getting a present. When it’s a present I want, I effusively thank the giver and show it off to everyone. I put it somewhere safe. I smile whenever I look at it. On the other hand, when it’s something I don’t want, my thanks are merely polite, I only show it to someone if they ask to see it, and I store it in the attic until I think it’s safe to re-gift or sell at a yard sale without the giver finding out. Along these lines, a woman who owns her boobs acts like she’s glad they’re part of her and figures out how to show them to their best advantage. But the woman who doesn’t own her boobs is always looking at what other women got and wishing she’d been given the same thing. She won’t accept what she actually has, and it shows in the way she talks about her body, dresses and stands.

With boobs, it’s all about a certain attitude. As I thought about writing this post, I realized that even though we own a car, there are times when it is incredibly dirty, the windshield wipers need changing, and the tires need inflating. To look at the state of our house right now, you would never know I have pride of ownership. It’s a mess. And the same can be true of  boobs. Sure we technically own them at all times, but sometimes we forget to act like we do–like when we wear stretched-out bras or those infamous baggy tees.

And even though most of us are grateful for our size, boob ownership is also a process. As an adolescent, I would gladly have traded my body for a smaller-busted model. And even today, after shopping at a store where nothing fits my chest, I find myself wishing I were less buxom. But wishing I were different happens much less frequently now than it did when I was younger.

Neither of these explanations have fully captured what I had in mind when I compared Tate and Hendricks, but it’s a start. There’s so much more to explore on this subject. However, instead of judging celebrities for whether they do or don’t own their boobs, why don’t we begin with ourselves. Where are you with this right now–do you own your boobs?