I originally had decided not to publish this post, because after all, we don’t really need another post on how people in western cultures view breasts. But when I opened today’s paper, I saw an article on The Boob Lady, and just lost it. So here goes.
When I got sick this past spring, I joined a Yahoo group for people with chronic illnesses. One of the regular emails consists of a list of links from the Mayo Clinic that provides information on a variety of health concerns, from preventing the flu to dealing with intractable fatigue. So imagine my surprise when a recent link from the the Mayo Clinic covered breast augmentation.
I clicked on the link, because I wanted to know how breast augmentation could possibly be related to health. One of the reasons suggested for breast augmentation was priceless:
* Correct a defect in the development of your breasts, such as having breasts of unequal sizes
So this is how breast implants are related to women’s health! Only, I’m confused as to what health problems I’m risking by having uneven breasts. Is the smaller breast more susceptible to cancer? Am I in danger of damaging the larger breast by closing a door on it? I’m afraid to admit this, because clearly I’m a developmental freak, but most parts of my body are uneven. Can medicine come to the rescue? The only thing worse than misogyny is when misogyny enriches the medical industry.
Frankly, my misaligned breasts haven’t caused me any problems in life. My mismatched feet, on the other hand, have caused considerable problems, since one foot always has an ill-fitting shoe. Maybe the Mayo Clinic will send me an article about foot implants. But then, I’d have to work my way up my body, undergoing multiple surgeries to even myself out so that I don’t exhibit any developmental defects and make other people uncomfortable. Oh, wait, uneven body parts are a health issue. I’m sorry to say I’ve typed this entire post with uneven hands. How could I have been so reckless?
I think I’ll focus on actual health problems, like this intractable fatigue.
The Boob Lady
Optimism only leads to disappointment.
She didn’t start out as The Boob Lady.
A creative-writing class unearthed her feelings about her breast lift surgery two years ago and the impact it made on her life.
“For most of my life, my breasts would arrive in the room before I did,” she said.
After nursing and raising those children and getting into shape, she underwent a breast lift — a surgery that removes excess flesh and moves the nipples up — and for the first time, she felt like she had breasts that aligned with her petite body.
“Finally, I’m comfortable with me,” she said.
TBL wants girls to be comfortable in their own skin. That phrase, comfortable in your own skin, is important to me. I’ve been working for a long time to achieve that level of acceptance of myself. The way that I understand the phrase, it means that you accept yourself as you are. It does not mean that you accept yourself once you’ve had surgery to get rid of the unacceptable parts.
The article just gets worse and worse:
“They’re not the end-all be-all but they are the things that define us as women,” Squires said. “They’re out there all the time. They define our sex, but it isn’t who we are.”
Silly Boob Lady, our breasts do define who we are. Someone, get this woman a radical feminist analysis of body image, stat! She attempts to preach about the need for a positive body image.
Bodies, she said, change a lot. And so do your breasts, with life-changing events such as pregnancy and birth, or through exercise.
“They’re in a constant state of flux,” Squires said. “Change is a good thing. If you don’t like your breasts today, you may like them in 20 years.”
But surgery to “improve” your breasts is acceptable. It’s impossible for me to reconcile the idea that bodies are to be accepted as they are, as they change, but plastic surgery is okay.
…What’s unnatural are boobs deliberately hiked up by some tits-on-a-platter bra, á la Victoria’s Secret,” she wrote.
But breasts subjected to surgery are natural? Restrictive bras are unacceptable, but surgery is fine? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to encourage women and girls to accept their bodies as they are? Loving your body, without reservation, without “fixing” it first, should not still be subversive. Unfortunately, it still is.