Fair warning: this post may be a bit controversial. I apologize if it offends you in any way. Additionally, I apologize if it makes you change the way you see me. I am finding that my 20s are a period for change and reinvention and self-discovery, so the way I see myself is changing everyday. A little change in thought can be a good thing.
Over Christmas break I got breast augmentation surgery.
Phew…That was easier than I thought it would be. I dreaded telling my friends I was having the procedure. One friend in particular responded with: “You’re getting fake boobs?!” There is nothing fake about my breasts. They are attached to my chest, which is attached to my torso, which is a part of my body, which houses my soul. That sounds pretty “real” to me.
Initially, I began thinking about having breast reconstruction surgery because I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Disease. This is, essentially, hypothyroidism, but it is more aggressive than regular hypothyroidism. It occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, resulting in hypothyroidism and a heap of other obnoxious symptoms. You may be wondering how this is related to breast augmentation- I’m getting there, I promise.
My breasts have never been normal (sorry for the over share). I’ve had doctors my whole life tell me that “one day I’d be able to get them fixed.” I always joked about having breast surgery, but after I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s my Freshman year of college, I started to do a bit more research. My research told me that there was a connection between organ development and Hashimoto’s. Specifically, breast development in women often suffers as a result of untreated Hashimoto’s disease. I remember the day I found out there was a link. I sent the URL immediately to my mom, and I cried. It was so good to hear that there was a reason for what was wrong with me. It had a name, and it wasn’t my fault.
Long story short, my parents took me to a consultation with a plastic surgeon and he told me that there was definitely something wrong- which was comforting in a weird sort of way. I got reconstructive surgery on December 13, 2012, and I have been extremely happy ever since.
What I really want to explore in this post is a feminist interpretation of breast implants. I have told a lot of my friends at school and at home about this surgery, and whenever I tell them the reason, they normally respond with “Oh well that makes sense…good for you. At least you got the surgery for a good reason” This is a response that has troubled me for a long time. I don’t understand what a “good reason” for plastic surgery refers to. Honestly, if someone wants plastic surgery, and they believe that it will make them happier, then that is a good reason. Any reason is a good reason. I don’t believe that you can place limitations and situational culpability upon someone’s happiness.
As a Women’s Studies major, I often joke that once the W&M WMST department finds out how much I like baking, being in my sorority and rap music, they’ll take away my Women’s Studies card. However, I really believe that if a lot of them knew about the implants in my chest they’d snatch the card as fast as they could. I worry that they’d no longer see me as a credible source of female empowerment and self- love; they wouldn’t see me as a strong woman who was in control.
Making the decision to radically alter my body was powerful, and exhibited a great deal of control: my control over my body and my happiness. Plastic surgery is so taboo in our culture. We see it as a negative thing that is the result of poor self image and extreme vanity. I do not see myself as a vain person, nor do I think I have poor self-image. However, I saw something in myself that I didn’t like (my breasts) and I took the steps necessary to change them. I knew that my insecurities about my breasts were holding me back and they were stopping me from being the person that I wanted to be. So I fixed them. Honestly, what’s more empowering than that?
The way I see it, having my breast surgery has given me the confidence to share myself with other people. I am no longer afraid of making myself vulnerable in relationship-type situations for fear of having to bare my chest at some point. I am no longer embarrassed to go to the beach in a swimsuit, and I feel better in my own skin.
From a feminist perspective, I exhibited agency when I decided to take control over my body. For twenty years, I loved myself and my body, flaws and all, and I will continue to love myself for the rest of my life. However, loving yourself means looking critically at what makes you happy. I knew that my breasts weren’t making me happy, and I love myself too much to feel unhappy about something that is easily changed. I am proud of my decision, and I am proud of my body.
I am a woman, a feminist, and I have breast implants.