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I Am Not My Boobs

I have breast implants.  Not reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, not part of sex reassignment surgery,  just straight up bags of saline shoved in my tits because I simply wanted bigger boobs.  I spent several thousand dollars on a completely cosmetic operation to modify my perfectly healthy body. That’s right, I paid someone to cut into my body and put something foreign underneath the muscle wall of my chest.

Why would a college-educated feminist risk her health and open her wallet in the name of big boobs? Obviously I must be aware of the oppressive and patriarchal values placed upon female bodies in our society, and I must know that the media perpetuates an unattainable beauty standard, right?  Clearly I must be aware that this want for bigger boobs is a projection of the images of what is considered an ideal female body that I have been bombarded with from a lifetime of absorbing media, right?

Yes. I am aware that perhaps a lot of the reasons why I hated my boobs before had to do with these things.  The thing is, knowing why you feel bad about yourself doesn’t always make things better.

I tried to scare myself out of it. I watched videos of the surgical procedure, researched the worst case scenario side effects, and read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth. Even after reading Wolf’s book, which draws comparisons between breast augmentation and genital mutilation, and refers to breasts with implants as “sexually dead breasts”* and still didn’t change my mind. (That still makes me mad, and is absolutely untrue in my experience, but that’s another story.) I re-read Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs and asked myself if I was perpetuating raunch culture.

* link: http://books.google.com/books?id=YD56gICSRk0C&lpg=PP1&dq=naomi%20wolf%20the%20beauty%20myth&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false page 246

I’m not stupid, I know that there is something really messed up about fixating on my breasts so much.  I knew that it was ridiculous that I haven’t left the house without a padded push-up bra since 7th grade.  But I also knew that by age 22, and after five years of being on various different types of hormonal birth control, my breasts weren’t going to get any bigger unless I got pregnant or gained a significant amount of weight.

I asked myself if I could be happy without bigger boobs. Yes. I could be happy and I could love my body. But I also knew I wasn’t going to stop buying bras full of gel and padding. I knew I would still stop and stare at the C and D cup bras in stores, and even occasionally try one on under my shirt to see what I would look like if I wore that size.  I asked myself if I would still want to get the surgery if nothing other than the size of my breasts changed. I told myself they wouldn’t change my life or make people notice me or make me a better person. I knew this was true, yet I still fixated on how I looked in the mirror.

I could be happy without getting this surgery. But I would be even happier if I did get it.  In my mind it was completely worth spending the money I would have otherwise put towards getting a newer car. So last summer I gave myself permission to do something that would make me very happy. I did something frivolous and expensive and possibly even in complete contradiction with my feminist values. I spent several months hunting for the best doctor, figuring out what choices I wanted to make involving the surgery (there are a lot) and making sure I had realistic expectations.

On September 17th I went in for surgery. I’m glad I did it. I’m very happy with my results.  Every day when I wake up and look down at my boobies I smile.  They make me love going clothes shopping and even trying on bathing suits, something I used to dread.  I don’t think getting surgery is the answer to everyone’s body image problems. It’s not something anyone should take lightly.  I don’t like that we live in a world where people, myself included, feel the need to pay thousands of dollars to change how they look.  What I do like is how I look and feel now. That’s why I gave myself permission to have breast augmentation surgery, because it was my choice to make about my own body, and because it made me happy.

I am not my boobs. I am so many other things. I’m a college graduate, a teacher, a friend, a horror movie fanatic, an avid reader and a tumblr addict.  The contents of my bra do not define me, but I don’t mind talking about them. They’re a part of me, the process of getting them helped me learn a lot about myself, and they look good.

By weetziebat

Brittany - 24 - NJ.
I have a lot of feelings about horror movies, Batman, John Waters and trashy reality tv.

15 replies on “I Am Not My Boobs”

Hi I hope I’m doing this right. I had a hard time registering before so my comment was posted before but I’m just kinda adding to it I guess.

I see that the person who wrote this responded so its sort of like an answer to that. N e way, you said in response

“I could accept the way I was with small breasts. I got the surgery because I prefer how I look now, not because I hated it before.”

but this statement is totally the opposite to what you said before and I just have to say respectfully, I don’t believe you. I’m just being as honest as I can be so I’m sorry if it sounds attacking I’m not attacking you but I do believe you’re in denial.

comparing it to dying my hair would get the point across, but make me sound rather flippant about the serious impact of surgery on one’s body and finances.

Yeah, ’cause it is flippant! It’s a totally different scenario anyway you didn’t say I liked how my breasts were before but I just wanted to try something new and see how they felt. You explained very clearly that you spent years hating your boobs, obsessing about having bigger ones, padding your bra so they’d look bigger and feeling bad cause they were not bigger and now it seems like you want to change your story. And surgery is permanent. It’s not like putting on a hat or nail polish. You don’t get to wake up in the morning and say, naaaahhh, I liked it better before or after a few months, I’ma go back to my little breasts ’cause it’s not that easy. It’s a lifetime commitment unless you’re loaded with cash and don’t mind going under the knife over and over.

However, I respectfully disagree with the statement that I am somehow in denial. I was able to see past the boobs and see myself just fine before. I could say ‘I am not my boobs’ a year ago when they were tiny. I had accepted the way my body was. But then I had an opportunity to love my body even more.

Denial – Don’t Even kNow I’m Lying. To me this is just spin, I’m sorry. You didn’t accept your body the way it was, isn’t that obvious? You weren’t able to see past the boobs and see yourself, that’s why you had the surgery. If you were, you wouldn’t have had to do it. The surgery was just to change the boobs, come on. Now that they’re changed you want to say yeah, my boobs are not important. It’s spin, really. But at the end of the day, their your boobs to do with as you want. I think its sort of like people who lose weight who have body issues. All of a sudden they lose the weight and don’t want anyone to know they had body issues. They lie and say they just wanted to be healthy or that they didn’t do anything in particular or that they never really minded the weight. It’s like they’re ashamed of who they were before or maybe still are, like they’re ashamed to admit that they didn’t like themselves but at the end of the day the sad part is they’re really only lying to the one person that really matters, themselves.

I hate to be the voice of distension, but as a woman with serious body image issues, I am told that I should love myself at the size that I am and throw out society’s messages that tell me that I don’t meet with some unrealistic ideal.

We parents tell our children the same thing – it’s what’s inside that counts. You are unique and beautiful just the way you are.

Then we turned around and tell them that if they want to change their body to be happy, then that is what they should do. Respectfully, which is it? I think the messages contradict each other.

I recently watched a special program where they featured women in China who are sawing into the bones of their legs to insert pins so that they can become taller. It is harder to get a job if you are under a certain height and society has told them that taller is better, but even though there’s this stigma against being short, the operation is highly frowned upon. If one does it, it’s done in secret — you don’t tell a soul. It takes about a year to heal.

I really don’t see the difference. I don’t see the difference in a dark skin person who lightens their skin because they believe that to be lighter is better; that they will be happier if they are whiter. They do that in India, and there’s a lot of controversy about it. Of course, it’s prevalent in the African American culture, too; skin lightening.

I am glad you are happy, believe me, to each their own but doesn’t happiness begin and end inside the mind? It’s what we tell ourselves that make us happy, and ultimately what we believe about ourselves.

It is a contradiction, but it’s one we deal with all the time. Every time we get a haircut we are participating in a minor form of body modification. Women choose their clothes and make-up to highlight what they like and downplay what they don’t about their appearance. And don’t even get me started on high heels. These are all small, non-invasive ways that we control how we look to the outside world, and they are all decisions we have to make every day. The big thing is whether or not we make the decision from a place of body-love or body-hate.

The things you mentioned sound like they are done out of body-hate or fear that life will never be good if they don’t change. Weetziebat specifically said that she could be happy with her unmodified boobs, but she had always wanted bigger ones, so she got them. To me that makes the surgery more like getting a tattoo (albeit a really really BIG tattoo).

Saying we deal with it all the time is a common practice fallacious argument. And respectfully, you’re comparing apples and oranges when you compare a haircut, makeup or high heel shoes to breast augmentation. It’s not at all like a tattoo ( I have two).

Weetziebatt: I knew that it was ridiculous that I haven’t left the house without a padded push-up bra since 7th grade.

A tattoo to me is more like jewelry. You like it, you got it because it had meaning to you; you’re like a walking piece of art now, but will you say, I won’t leave the house without my tattoo? You don’t need to put on a fake tattoo to feel complete. The women who had her legs cut into to be taller said she was fine when she was shorter. She said she just wanted to feel “better”. People who use lightening skin cremes never tell you that they hate their color. They say they just wanted to look “nicer”.

I had a friend over who read the article and wanted to comment but she couldn’t register, so she asked me to write her comment down for her. This is not me, mind you, but I think she makes some great points. I’m just copying and pasting. She is 20 years old.

“IMO, Weetziebat is in denial. On the one hand she’s saying, “The contents of my bra do not define me,” but she also admits that, “I still fixated on how I looked in the mirror.” and I know that there is something really messed up about fixating on my breasts so much”

“You had to change yourself in order to be happy. If you really truly loved yourself as you were, you would have accepted yourself the way you were. It was just easier to get the breast implants than it was to do work you would need to do internally to accept your small breasts.

“Weetziebat: That’s why I gave myself permission to have breast augmentation surgery, because . . it made me happy.

“Since we’re selling the myth that what’s on the outside can make us happy now then let’s throw away the myth that money can’t buy happiness because I guess it can. Now what’s the advice to the little poor girl with small breasts? How does she become happy?

You can say now: I am not my boobs. I am so many other things. . . . The contents of my bra do not define me, only because you got the augmentation. You couldn’t say I am not my boobs when you had small breasts. You didn’t count the characteristics you list as important enough or having enough value to help you accept yourself the way you were. Something in you told you I need big breasts to feel better. Good thing you had some money. ” ~ Kimora

I agree wish some of what you and your friend had to say, and I don’t think the comments here would provide an interesting discussion without your viewpoint. I don’t want a bunch of people high-fiving me for being lucky enough to pay someone to give me boobs. Your points are valid and should be part of this discussion.

I’m going to try to address the issues you point out, but I’m probably going to end up rambling and missing a bunch of stuff.

When I wrote this, my point was to explain why I decided to get implants even when I knew all of the social factors that caused me to want them were messed up . I know that some people think I’m foolish, insecure, or that I was terribly unhappy and had low self esteem before the surgery. I wanted to explain that not everyone who gets elective surgery fits into that box.

I was able to live a normal life, I was happy, and my self esteem was just fine. This might be hard to imagine, because why would someone change their body if they were fine with how it was? I could accept the way I was with small breasts. I got the surgery because I prefer how I look now, not because I hated it before. There was one thing I didn’t like about my body, and I had the power to change it, so I did.

I initially wanted to write about how I like how I look with my natural brown hair, but I LOVE how I look with bright red hair. The red dye is making me less of what I look like naturally, but it makes me feel more like myself, and it makes me feel powerful. I can’t have the red hair now because I’m job hunting, and while I really miss it, I can be happy without it. The best comparison would be other forms of surgery that alter the way someone looks, because to explain it by comparing it to dying my hair would get the point across, but make me sound rather flippant about the serious impact of surgery on one’s body and finances.

If I wanted to do something to make myself stand out, like getting my ears pointed or my tongue forked, would anyone say it was because of low self esteem or that that I should love myself the way I am and that coming to terms with my body would be a better solution than changing my look?
Probably not, because those things rebel against social norms and standards of beauty rather than conform to them.
I think the issue isn’t that I did something as extreme as surgery to change how I looked, but that I did it in a way that reflects the values of a culture that places value on women based on their looks. I conformed to what would give me more value in our society.
I admit that there is so much wrong with this, with the fact that certain bodies are ranked as better than others, and with the fact that changing my body has changed the way many people have treated me and interacted with me. It is wrong that I internalized the messages of society that made me dislike my small boobs.
However, I respectfully disagree with the statement that I am somehow in denial. I was able to see past the boobs and see myself just fine before. I could say ‘I am not my boobs’ a year ago when they were tiny. I had accepted the way my body was. But then I had an opportunity to love my body even more. To make it look the way my ideal self looked in my mind. I had the good fortune to have both the money and the time to get the surgery, and access to a great doctor, so I went for it. It was not necessary, and I did like they way I was before, but I love the way I look now.

I want to make it clear that I made an educated decision, and that I thought for a long time about the reasons why I was making it. I imagine that a lot of people make assumptions about what kind of person gets breast implants, and I want to talk openly about my choice. Not because I think anyone else needs to make the same choice, but because I want people to understand that it was right for me.

Hi Weetziebat,

Thanks for responding! And thank you for being so open to hear views that may not match your own. My friend was able to register this morning and I’ll let her speak to her comments, as for myself, as a person admittedly with huge body image issues as I said before, I questioned the statements you made supporting your decision to get the breast implants and explaining your dissatisfaction with them before because they sound, to my ears, incongruous to each other and what you were claiming.

Kimora pointed out some of the inconsistencies, but I’ll just point out my own.

I was able to live a normal life, I was happy, and my self esteem was just fine. . . .I could accept the way I was with small breasts.

But you didn’t. You didn’t choose to accept your body the way it was with small breasts, so I wonder why. Since all I have are your words, I look to your article to answer me.

I am aware that perhaps a lot of the reasons why I hated my boobs before had to do with these things.

The words are there. “I hated my boobs before”. Your boobs, as they were, were a part of your body. That’s body hatred.

The thing is, knowing why

you feel bad about yourself

doesn’t always make things better.

Feeling bad about yourself (because of a part of your body that is natural; that you view as defective or less than ) is body hatred; is low self-esteem.

I think the issue isn’t that I did something as extreme as surgery to change how I looked, but that I did it in a way that reflects the values of a culture that places value on women based on their looks.

To me that’s the issue intellectualized and distorted. For me it is very simply this: You changed your breasts because you hated them; because they made you feel bad about yourself.
Where did you get the idea that there was something wrong with them? Where did you get the idea that bigger breasts were better?

As with anything, intention is key.

You might very well be happier now, but to me, it is because you have bought into an ideal, an ideal that was foisted upon you by an industry who has zero interest in how you truly regard yourself or your sense of well being and is only focused on making money.

Had you not had the money, it’s my guess (IMO) that you would have lived in abject misery, always feel less than. The words above, “I hate”, “I felt bad” are your words from your article, not my own. I am not assuming, I am listening to you.

I want people to understand that it was right for me.

If it is right for you, then what is right for the woman who feels exactly as you do but has no money with which to buy away her self-hatred?

Yes to this on all counts. You feel good. End of story. Yea, plastic surgery is problematic for all sorts of reasons, but at the end of the day, if your happy, why does it matter.

I remember when my mother got a breast lift and implants. She did it because her two precious chillen’s had half gnawed off her nipples and because she gained so much weight only in her chest during her pregnancy, which disappeared as soon as we were born , leaving her breasts more looking like flapjacks. She felt like she had no control over her body, couldnt find bra’s that fit and was just unhappy with the way they looked. So she saved for years ( years ) to get them lifted.

After she got them, it was basically free license for people to just run amok with her body. Touching them, grabbing the, lifting up her shirt – really similar to pregnant women who are then assaulted by everyone. So yelling and screaming at adults who are like two year olds and cant keep their hands to themselves, she is happy. And in this life, thats all you can ask for.

Kudos to you.

I’m glad you mom was able to get her operation. Having kids changes some women’s bodies more than others (some people in really strange ways: A friend of my mother gained about two shoe sizes over the course of three pregnancies and it stuck like that for life) and I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch your body change like that and not be able to do anything about it.

I too have breast implants. I got them almost 2 years ago and to this day I’m quite happy that I got them. Unlike you, I never had small breasts though. I was a size D when I decided to augment my breasts. I’ve always liked big breasts, when I was a kid I’d look up to Dolly Parton and I’d stuff my Barbie’s chests with ribbons under their clothing to make their breasts bigger. When I grew up I’d be unbearably envious of women with larger breasts, not Maxi Mounds big but big nonetheless. So, after a lot of careful consideration, a lot of reading the cons, the what ifs, seeing the pictures, videos, forum and blog posts and seeing every single angle I could think of. At age 25, I decided to go ahead and get breasts implants for my 26th birthday. Nowadays I am a size 34F, it actually sounds bigger than it looks because I have a wide thoracic chest so unless I really dress them up my breasts look fairly average -on-the-slightly-larger-side.
Oh, another thing. I ended up getting two ripples on my left breast and even with that I am fairly happy.

I view this in the same manner as fat acceptance. Healthy isn’t just physical, it’s a state of mind. If you’re not fully happy with something about your body and changing it isn’t going to cause detriment to anyone or yourself in the long-haul, then why not?

Just as many of us repeatedly state that if someone chooses to be obese and is happy with their life, body, and mental health, then we should just let them go about their lives without our constant interference. The same can be said for pretty much any cosmetic surgery (including weight loss surgery).

I think it’s horrible that we (used in the ‘we-all’ sense) judge women for wanting to get implants. I also think that women who choose reduction seem to get a pass because back pain is a medical condition that can be alleviated by breast reduction.

My cousin got implants after years of feeling inadequate; being pregnant twice didn’t change her physique in any noticeable way. She did it because she felt conspicuous in her clothes, they didn’t fit in the breast region. When she chose to pursue implants, she decided on ones that would put her at a large b, small c. Looking at her now you would never guess. She looks really good. I mean, REALLY good.

I admit to some mild judging where she is concerned. But not on the physical “How could she do that to her body” side. The financial circumstances were … Not what I expected. Our grandmother (her husband and my grandmother) had been subsidizing 100% the formula expenses for the twins she had given birth to a year earlier, supposedly because it was so expensive for two people who make close to 6 figures combined. And then one day *BOOM* new boobs. I shouldn’t judge, I know. But I’m only human.

I went through all those thought processes when someone close to me had a breast augmentation done. One half of me kept thinking that no one should need big boobs to be happy, but the other half said “You go girl! If it makes you happy then do it.” I went with option “B” because the surgery made her happy, and when the people I care about are happy, then I’m happy too.

I just said “Happy” a whole lot, but I can’t think of a better way to say it. Oh well.

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