A few weeks ago I read an article about breast implants and the comment section abounded with women complaining about the small size or sagginess of their post pregnancy and breast-feeding mammaries. They couldn’t wait to ‘fix’ this obsessed-over body part.
Though I myself don’t have a husband with whom to discuss the ethics of breast implants, I got to thinking about the possibility of them in my own future. Bigger boobs are something I’ve wanted far before I ever became a mother. In college I became painfully self-conscious of their small size, and even began saving up for a boob job by serving cocktails at a local and ever-so-classy strip-club. [Being surrounded by the huge, fake knockers there was extra visual motivation to save up. And to faithfully search down a surgeon with a more delicate touch than my coworkers’…]
I’d saved up more than enough money and was beginning the process of looking into surgeons who wouldn’t make me look like I had rocks inside my chest, or kill me, when months’ worth of hard-earned money were stolen from me. [I won’t go into detail as to how this happened because if I did I’d never be able to show my face in public again.]
Needless to say I was temporarily devastated. But when the depressing fog lifted I decided that it just wasn’t meant to be. Perhaps my boob job would have been botched. Maybe I would have regretted it in my own age. Looking back almost a decade later, with a toddler daughter by my side, I’m glad I didn’t get the boob job despite the fact that I still long for one on a multiple-times-a-day basis [obsessive, I know].
The reasons? They all boil down to the worldview I want to embody for my daughter, who will grow up being reminded time and again by the media and misogynistic beauty industry that she needs to change what she looks like. So below, the four reasons I won’t be getting the much longed-for boob job:
- I don’t want my daughter to know that for purely cosmetic reasons I underwent risky major surgery, essentially paying someone a whole lot of money to cut open my body and insert foreign objects inside it. It’s not that I don’t want her to know that I have insecurities. In fact, I do. I want her to know that I am flawed and that I long to feel more like my own definition of beautiful, but that at the end of the day I have the wisdom and grace to not let my insecurities guide my life. My insecurities are a part of me, and they probably always will be, but I would never want my weaknesses to control my decisions. I want to overcome my insecurities, not give into them. And I want my daughter to sense that I embody this life-view to the best of my ability. What’s more, I want her to sense that there is beauty itself in the way a woman bears her so-called imperfections.
- I want her to recognize that there exists a bold distinction between enhancing natural beauty and permanently changing ourselves as physical beings. Makeup, fashion, padded pushup bras, for that matter, are all ways to explore sense of self and beauty. But at the end of the day they don’t change how we were made. We can remove clothes and makeup, and when we do we are left with the naked, unadorned versions of ourselves. We may not like the way we look bare, but that’s okay. What matters is not that we love ourselves as is, but that we possess the resilience and grace to accept our female reality rather than permanently carve out a brand-new physical ‘me’.
- One day my daughter will express intense dissatisfaction with her appearance, and I will tell her that she is beautiful just the way she is. But if I were to get a boob job, she and I both would know I didn’t wholly believe my own words. I would have paid thousands of dollars and underwent risky, major surgery in order to meet some ridiculous standard that I (paradoxically) didn’t want my own daughter to feel pressured by. Clearly, I wouldn’t really believe females are always enough just as they are. I would know, deep within, that I was an integral part of the very problem that plagued my daughter.
- Lastly, I want my daughter to know one existential truth: the inevitability of aging and the gradual loss of looks forces all of us, enhanced or not, to accept our every-growing physical ‘flaws’. Cosmetic surgery is never a solution to body insecurities precisely because the passage of time itself ensures that our bodies deteriorate regardless. The single great challenge life presents to each one of us is to be happy despite this grim reality.
All said, at the end of the day women who yearn for bigger breasts and women who actually go out and get them aren’t really that different. One important factor does distinguish them though: the first bear their insecurities with grace, teaching their daughters to do the same, while the others give into desires borne of weakness and risk passing down a destructive message about female beauty.