Recently I’ve decided to finally go through with getting a breast augmentation. And I found out that a lot of stigma is attached to this surgery. Breast augmentation is the #1 cosmetic procedure and an estimated 1 in 26 women in the US have had it done. So why is there still so many stereotypes about women that choose to undergo this procedure?
I was talking to my sister (she’s in med school and I treat her like my personal WebMD.com) about how to find a great surgeon. A close friend overheard and the look that dawned on her face was like someone just farted in a car with all the windows up.
“Are you seriously considering a boob job?”
After explaining to her that yes, I am planning on doing this because I’ve wanted to for a few years. I graduate in December and haven’t landed that big girl job yet, so it seems like great timing.
“Seriously, you look perfect just the way you are.”
“Yeah well, I think my nose is big. But I was born with this nose so I’m gonna die with this nose.”
I honestly didn’t argue with her because I don’t want any negatively surrounding this experience. But she hit a few different stereotypes I feel compelled to address.
The first thing she said is the stereotype that all women getting breast augmentations have low self-confidence and/or self-esteem. That all women doing this have body dysmorphic disorder. That everyone is trying to reach for unrealistic goals in the hopes of looking like a life size Barbie doll.
In high school, I did have low self-esteem. I hit puberty at age 12 and grew a happy trail and chin hairs before most of my male classmates. I was bullied and felt humiliated. Bullying isn’t always what people see in the movies (e.g. stealing lunch money, pushing you in the halls…) For me, it was a snide comment like the boy in 8th grade calling my chest mosquito bites. It was a guy telling me on AIM (do we remember those days?!?) to go shave my side burns.
I ran track, did cheerleading… and started some patterns of disordered eating. I spent years straddling that thin line of ‘extremely healthy’ and ‘obsessive.’
At 23, I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m extremely confident and happy in my body. If someone told me tomorrow I’m actually not a candidate for a boob job, sure I would be disappointed. But not devastated. I think I would feel something like when you really think a pair of boots are cute and ask the clerk to check in the back for your size, and then they walk back out and say they don’t have them.
I’m not having a boob job because of low self-confidence. I’m doing it to celebrate my curves. That I’m happy with my body and want to look more womanly. To feel like I can look balanced and honestly to make getting dressed and finding clothes that look good easier. To put my past behind me of reveling in being one pound lighter (probably because I just took a shit) and instead feel like my curves on the bottom match my upper half.
As for the second part of her statement, it upsets me because it’s so hypocritical and contradictory. It’s the assumption that all women doing this procedure are vain.
I take about 25 minutes to get ready everyday (yes, shower included). I hate blow drying or straightening my hair except special occasions… like it has to be new year’s. And I only wear make-up once or twice a week.
We do things every single day to change ‘what we were born with.’ We cut our hair, trim our nails, shower, and shave our legs. We get braces for purely aesthetic reasons. The list is endless. I think that making this comment is implying you have the authority to decide what we can do and what we can’t do to alter our appearance. That you get to decide what’s vain and what’s not.
Perhaps some women that get a breast augmentation are vain. Some are not. What I hope anyone reading this might see is that one cosmetic procedure doesn’t make you a vain person. Some people might spend more on clothes, make-up, hair… You can’t assume someone is wasteful and vain because of one procedure because they may (or may not) be conservative in other respects.
Yes, I’m doing this because I don’t want to be president of the itty bitty titty committee anymore. But seriously… doing this feels empowering to me. I’m happier in my own skin and healthier than I’ve ever been in my life. And adding some small breasts to my frame is exciting because I like the curves I see in the mirror, instead of when I was younger and just wanted my hips to stick out a littttleee bit more.