This article previously appeared on June 21, 2016.
My breasts have always seemed to be a topic of public conversation. For some reason, when you’re buxom, other people feel comfortable speaking freely about all things boobs. I guess it’s kind of like the elephant in the room scenario–they’re out there, no matter how much you try to cover them up. So rather than shy away from the topic or hide behind loose-fitting tops, I’ve learned to embrace my bosom rather than be embarrassed by it.
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my breasts. It’s hard for me to remember a time before I had them. It was as if one day I just woke up, and suddenly they were there, having skipped the training bra stage and jumped chest-first into a B cup at the age of 12. Being that age with a figure of someone who should have been at least 5 years my senior was a hard thing to wrap my head around. Growing up and being different, having something that no one else really does, sets you up for a learning experience. When you’re that age, boys are much too interested, and other girls are not very nice. You stand out no matter how much you wish you could just blend in. It’s a little bit like being in a freak show, people (friends, family and strangers) were always looking, judging, and commenting. And so began my love hate relationship with my breasts, followed by years of mixed messages and body image issues.
When my age and my chest finally caught up to each other, I found myself in my early twenties wearing a DD cup. By then I had learned how to handle the comments and the unwanted advances. I had also learned how to flaunt them to my advantage. At some point, however, my breasts became burdensome again. When I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t happy. I no longer felt comfortable wearing certain things, even just wearing a V-neck made me feel self-conscious. I also noticed that I had a lot of tension in my neck and back, and I was physically uncomfortable. It’s hard to explain–I didn’t really feel bad, but I definitely didn’t feel good. All of a sudden my boobs just seemed too big for my body.
So I decided to have breast surgery. At 25, I was determined to have a breast lift and reduction. I longed for the days of being a 36C again. And I needed the extra weight lifted off my shoulders both literally and figuratively. I scheduled an appointment with a reputable and trusted plastic surgeon. During my consultation, he went over what the process involved, what would be done and what to expect from the healing and post-op phase and how the final results would turn out. He provided me with a plethora of material to read through and research so that by the time I went in for my pre-op check-up, I could be well-versed in what the procedures actually entailed, and I would be able to have a list of questions and concerns ready for him to address. I was ready. This was really happening. I booked my appointment and took my reading material home. I was only two steps away from what I so badly desired.
I was both scared and excited about the surgery. I had thought about it for a long time and felt that it would make a positive impact on both my mental and physical state. I went home counting down the days. My pre-op appointment was a few weeks out, and from then, if all was kosher, the surgery date would be set. I didn’t really tell anyone about it. Besides my mom and my boyfriend, no one else, not even my best friend or my sister knew what I was planning. I guess I’d heard so many opinions about my breasts throughout my life that I didn’t want to hear any more. I wanted my breast and me to have a little privacy.
In the weeks leading up to my appointment, I read all the pamphlets and brochures the doctor had provided me. I googled image after image. Logically, I knew what I was getting myself into, but for some reason, instead of finding comfort in what to expect, I became anxious. Day after day, it was all I thought about. And as the date of my appointment approached, I couldn’t seem to shake the anxious feelings that had seemed to increase during that time. Why was I suddenly so freaked out about the whole thing? Isn’t this what I had really wanted–and wouldn’t I feel better afterward? Doubt overwhelmed me. And doubt plus anxiety is a difficult pill to shallow. So two days before my appointment, I called to cancel.
As soon as I hung up with the doctor’s office, I thought about calling back to say I changed my mind, I made a mistake, I was just having nervous butterflies. I wondered how many last minute, chicken-out phone calls they receive. I couldn’t possibly be the only one. The receptionist was really sweet and asked if I had wanted to reschedule. I told her not at this time. Later that day ,I told my mom, who through it all had been supportive of my choice, and she was proud that I’d felt confident enough to listen to my gut. Ultimately, I was too.
I told my boyfriend next. And that was really the icing on the cake–or rather the push-up on the bra–that made me stop questioning my decision. When I told him that I had canceled my appointment, he responded in those simple, easy, not-over-thinking, guy terms, “Good, I like your boobs.” Just like that. And for some reason, instead of getting mad at what I would have normally perceived as a lack of sensitivity, I smiled. I guess sometimes that’s all it takes, someone to be more accepting of you than you are of yourself. To see yourself through their eyes and not your own distorted ones. I thought back over the years, and my feelings about my breasts have always fluctuated. Maybe this was just one of those times.
Over the weeks to follow, not only the anxiety about the surgery but my dissatisfaction with my chest dissipated along with it. I still didn’t love what I saw when I was naked, but it also wasn’t as bad as I believed it to be. 10 years later, my breasts haven’t gotten any perkier (damn gravity) and thankfully not any bigger. But at 35, I have no regrets about not having had surgery years ago. I still have those days when I avoid looking in the mirror and then other days when I’m quite satisfied that I can fill out a dress. I think I’ll always have mixed feelings about my chest, but I don’t feel as strongly about it as I once did. And if I ever do, well, I already have the number to a good surgeon.
Also by Danielle: Why Not Having Children Doesn’t Make Me Selfish
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