Frozen and Phantom Wings: the Body in Pieces

As a Gemini, my astrological profile tells me that my best physical feature is my shoulders, blades and all. This feels like a joke or a euphemism, how you’d compliment an ugly woman. After my divorce, when a new boyfriend told me I had beautiful feet, I thought so it’s come to this. Shoulders may be more obviously sexy and less fetishized than feet, pace the trend for off the shoulder asymmetrical and cold shoulder tops. If you don’t know a “cold shoulder” shirt or sweater, you’ve definitely seen them: the shoulders are literally cut out, neat round holes like anti-bras, to display two curves of flesh, which become, in situ, proxies for boobs. We become four-titted. The god with a hundred eyes, the goddess with a thousand arms, the human with four tits, merging in the mind’s eye like 3-D projection. Some say the butt is also a surrogate for boobs, your back boobs. Because the owner of the back boobs can’t easily see you looking, you can look for as long as you like; you can see the displaced boobs without the complications of a face and identity or even being seen yourself. The butt is the voyeur’s boobs. We call breasts “our girls,” suggesting they are both metaphor and metonym; we are both part of their “girlhood” and they stand for our whole self. We Arcimboldize our bodies with specialized sexual characteristics. We have boobs coming and going, but the mystery of shoulders, like that of butts, should remain opaque.