Florence Williams is a decorated environmental writer, one of my personal heroes (we launched our careers at the same ragtag Western environmental mag), and author of the new book Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History. I caught up with her over a cup of coffee this week and learned a little about the biological theories of bustiness, the chemical cocktails that are showing up in breast milk, and a smartphone app that makes my childhood days of sneaking peeks at Playboy bunnies look positively pedestrian.
Q. Why write a book about breasts?
A. The idea occurred to me when I was breastfeeding. I hadn’t really thought about my breasts before that, but suddenly, I was totally wowed by them and what they were able to do. It’s totally amazing. And then of course I learned that there were toxins in breast milk, and so that really launched me down this path of trying to learn how modern life has changed breasts and how breasts evolved and why they’re so special to us to begin with.
Q. Why are human breasts so different from other mammals'?