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Dec 30 2011

Boobaversary: In Defense of Plastic Surgery

Two years ago today I got a boob job. I feel like blunt is the best way to start this conversation.

Plastic surgery is usually the butt of jokes, it’s what celebrities do to themselves that makes them look like aliens. Sure, there are burn victims and cancer victims who get cosmetic surgery, but that’s just to make them look “normal”. If you’re a “normal” person who gets plastic surgery, it’s probably because you’ve got too much money, are incredibly vain, or have no self-control when it comes to weight. If a woman gets plastic surgery, she is stupid and skanky. If a man does, he’s kind of gay.

If you’re a feminist, you are betraying your sex by succumbing to the cultural pressure of normative standards of beauty.

I am admittedly biased, but I think plastic surgery is great, why shouldn’t we be able to do whatever we want to with our bodies? Tattoos, piercings, hair dye, nose jobs, whatever… why isn’t this a great thing? My reduction is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I introduced my procedure as a “boob job” for a reason, because it was a more aesthetic and emotional choice than a medical one. Even though reductions seem to be more culturally acceptable than augmentations, the difference is simply the direction I moved on the size scale.

I was a 32H and it was making me miserable. They were uncomfortable, there were no clothes that fit me, I always felt like people were staring at them, and the bras I had to wear were incredibly painful. I would get sores on my shoulders from where the straps dug in.

I hated my breasts. Loathed them. In fits of pique I would daydream about getting breast cancer so that I would have a reason to get rid of them entirely. Let’s just say I didn’t have a healthy working relationship with them.

I was already a D cup in 6th grade. By the time I was in high school, there were no local stores that actually stocked bras in my size.  Open stares were not uncommon.  And then there were the comments, shouts, and open groping from strangers.  I was a freak.

It took me nearly a decade from when reduction surgery was suggested to me and actually going under the knife.  It turns out surgery is really scary and you find that people are going to think less of you if you have plastic surgery.

I can usually weasel out of it because I had a reduction and not some other procedure.  I still feel obligated to emphasize just how much I had to get removed, to try to justify it.  I feel the need to tell you all that there was almost no fat in what they removed, so having more control over my weight wouldn’t have made a difference in my breast size.  I feel obligated to assure you that it was absolutely necessary, that I had macromastia, but in reality, I would have been fine without it.  Just not as happy, not as confident.

And while getting smaller breasts wouldn’t generally strike people as trying to fulfill the normative beauty standards, I immediately looked as though I’d lost 20 pounds. I think I look way more conventionally attractive now, which means that I’ve engaged in a hateful act that some people think is morally equivalent to female circumcision.

“Slicing up the body to conform to a societal ideal is inherently a woman-hating act, whether the offending body part is the clitoris or thigh fat.”

On the other hand, I no longer look like I’m smuggling party balloons under my shirt.  I can run.  I can buy bras that cost less than $150, or I can even just not wear one!  I can wear normal clothing and I am not immediately perceived as slutty for having enormous tits.

I recognize that there are a lot of cultural specifics to what we consider beautiful, but  I wasn’t trying to please anyone except for myself.  I’m still a freak, but now it’s for reasons that have nothing to do with my appearance.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    maxdwolf

    I once knew a woman who was similarly afflicted. I don’t put ironic quotation marks around that term because, for her, it was arguably truly an affliction. I once escorted her to a club. I’d walked along city streets with some gorgeous women before, but never had I seen such reactions. Half a dozen cat calls in one city block. It was ridiculous. It may also have been a factor in a brutal assault she suffered in her adolescence. As much a fan of breasts as I am, I am dumbfounded at their ability to wipe away irrationality and even morals.

    I am more a fan of the petite build myself, but I would never fault a woman for adapting her body to suit her own ideals. Let’s face it. If there were a surgical fix as simple and basic, many of us men would be lining up to make changes in a certain piece of anatomy unique to us. I must admit, I would.

  2. 2
    Cwayne

    Interesting the posting of Heidi Montag’s picture. I’m a man and I found her infinitely more attractive before the enlargement and facial surgery.
    Remeber seeing a few moments of her on a show with her mother and her mother was so disturbed about the number of surgeries. She also looked a lot like her mother prior to the facial surgeries.
    No idea who you are but I don’t feel at all that I need an explanation from you regarding your reduction. Thanks for educating me on macromastia, and, in my opinion, you looked hot with H and look hot with C.
    Just my opinion.

  3. 3
    David

    I am sorry I think your surgeon should be in gaol.

  4. 4
    B.T. Murtagh

    I think the stigma against plastic surgery and other body modifications is lessening, but it is definitely still there. People like yourself being open about it can only help that process along, and I salute you for it. I haven’t had any such surgeries myself, just a couple of discreet tattoos, but I would if I were unhappy.

    Not that it matters, but I thought exactly what you meant me to think with the description “boob job” and the two pictures in that order. My reaction was “Well… as long as she’s happy with them, that’s what matters, but I don’t consider that any kind of improvement at all.”

  5. 5
    Michael Hawkins

    I’ve thought about this sort of thing from time to time. I’m generally against breast implants simply because I think they look awful most of the time. At best they will appear nice in a shirt, but remove that shirt and it is obvious they’re fake. That said, if it makes a person feel good, go for it.

    I’ve had LASIK. I hated having contacts, not to mention I was bitter over the fact that I couldn’t just wake up, rub the crap out of my eyes, and see shit in the morning. (Bitter towards whom, I don’t know.)

    I am also currently on my last set of Invisalign braces. (It isn’t surgery, but I am altering part of my body medically.) My teeth have always been decent enough, but I had one that was turned just enough to bother me. It wasn’t particularly noticeable from the front, but I could feel it with my tongue. I just wanted it to be straight, so I have made it so. Now I feel great every time I think about it.

    I really don’t see how wanting to feel normal and/or good about one’s self can be inherently woman-hating. People go to the gym all the time with looks, not health, first in mind. What’s the difference? Or would the person you quoted also find that to be woman-hating? I just don’t see the principle at work in that sort of thinking – especially if she would consider your reduction to also be an act of hatred towards women. Yeah, it is unfortunate that people feel the need to adhere to some sort of societal standard, but I don’t see why someone should suffer being an outsider for the sake of some philosophical points. Besides, I’m a man and I’ve changed my body. Is that okay because it isn’t part of the ‘patriarchy’? Isn’t that a double standard?

  6. 6
    gogoyubari

    I’m one of those people–women people (you know, the half of humanity who’re judged all the time on how we look) who’ve had plastic surgery to make myself appear more “normal”. To not be a freak. To not be the butt of dismissal and cruelty and jokes every single goddamn fucking day.

    Way to dismiss people like me, Ashley. “Oh, sure, there are people” like me. But for “normal” people like you….So glad you feel “way more conventionally attractive now.” Must be nice.

    My heart bleeds for you. One or two mostly ignored theorists have criticized decisions like yours. How brave of you to stand up for your decision to modify your body (y’know, lots of women do it every day and they don’t make a big fucking deal about it) and compare yourself to victims of clitoridectomy.

  7. 7
    Michael Hawkins

    gogoybari,

    I don’t see you as being dismissed at all. Ashley pointed out people who are burn victims and whatever else as a matter of a caveat. Society sees some legitimate uses for cosmetic surgery, but when the matter is one of merely feeling normal or good, it is frowned upon. (Not that Ashley’s surgery appears to have been just for that reason.) That is, her primary point is that most cosmetic surgeries are not seen as respectable.

  8. 8
    Mike Haubrich

    My sister had terrible back problems all of her life and had reduction surgery. She is much happier now, and relatively pain-free. (I am posting this pseudonymously for her privacy.)

  9. 9
    Perpy

    Ashley, I’m so glad that you’re willing to post this, and share your experience.

    I think that people who are unhappy about their appearance should be able to get plastic surgery – especially since it’s their choice and their money. And in you case, you’ve probably avoided future back problems (also, I could never imagine not being able to run!).

    I’m personally affected by some bad acne scarring, and considering laser surgery. I know that many people around me probably would condemn it at some level, but it’s nice to know that there are people with such a sensible attitude as you.

  10. 10
    EEB

    Oh, I hear you. I didn’t have a breast reduction, but I did have a gastric bypass. I knew there was going to be a horrible backlash–especially because I had been a part of the fat-positive, HAES community. My feminist friends were angry and felt I was giving into patriarchal beauty standards. My skinny friends were pissed because they felt like I was “cheating.” The only supportive people were my family and an old school friend…probably because they understood what the reality of my situation was.

    Like you, I try to make excuses that it was all for health reasons. In fact, I wrote that down on my paperwork in big ol’ letters…I was getting the surgery only because my doctor was pleading with me. I LIKED being 340 lbs–fuck you, skinny ideal! I always have to add that it wasn’t a matter of self-control…I ate a very healthy diet and worked out regularly before, and though I was actually fairly healthy for my size (good blood pressure/cholesterol–I was a vegan, though–but my sugar level was bad). I had health conditions and needed medication to would keep me from ever losing weight the “right” way. So I had the surgery.

    But the truth is, I’m so glad I’m smaller now. Going outside is a lot easier now. People talk to me. People hang out with me. They invite me to go places. As the 300 lb high school student, I never went to parties. I never dated. It’s like having my adolesence in my 20s. So I did get benefits way beyond my health (which, ironically, got far *worse* after the surgery, and I am now permenently disabled because of a serious complication…yeah, it might not have been the best idea in retrospect).

  11. 11
    ルイヴィトンフランス

    ファンタジー世界

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