For most of my life, I have had small breasts. Perky, tiny, less than a handful, mosquito bite breasts. On a good day, I was a full A cup. On a bad one, it felt like I hardly filled out a training bra. But when a modeling agent (at least that’s what he called himself) said he’d pay for my boob job, I said, “No thanks.”
I wanted to say “yes” so very bad. I almost did, in fact. I loved boobs. I wanted boobs. Much, much bigger ones. I loved how they filled out bikinis. How they completed dresses. How they made all my full chested friends appear womanly and sexy and feminine. But I didn’t want to owe this man – I certainly couldn’t have paid for a boob job on my student loans and Jamba Juice paycheck without him. But most importantly, I didn’t want to get a breast augmentation because he said I needed to. Who was he to say that I wasn’t beautiful just the way I was?
I was also very insecure. What would my friends and family think if I did it? How would they judge me? So, I walked away from his offer, but I kept wanting one.
As a result, my collection of push-up bras grew. I even bought this ridiculous contraption called a Brava lured in by its promise of an increase in cup size. Brava was essentially two suction cups attached to a malfunctioning fish tank pump. It didn’t work, in case you were wondering.
When I got pregnant a decade later, my body changed and something incredible happened. For the first time in my life, I was a big-breasted woman! My A-cup blossomed into a milk-engorged D. It hurt like hell, sure, but holy F, I had boobs! My closest friends probably have at least one photo of my milk-just-came-in chest, somewhere in the dark corners of their old iPhones. I know my husband does. I made him back that picture up on a hard drive. Call it self-absorbed, but I loved those things.
My large C/small D-sized boobs stuck around through two back-to-back pregnancies. I never stopped breastfeeding between the birth of my daughter and son, so it didn’t dawn on me that, eventually, my breasts would return to their pre-pregnancy size or smaller. When my milk officially dried up, I shriveled out of the new bathing suit tops I’d just purchased for a Hawaii trip. The itsy-bitsy ones in the back of my mismatched sock drawer were all that fit. And I found myself thinking, “Could I breastfeed, forever? Was that why some women kept it going until their kids were five? Should I have another baby so that I could have my boobs back?” Those were the for real thoughts that went through my boob-crazy head.
After a wild hormonal shift post-breastfeeding, several cosmetic surgery consultations, and a serious look at finances later, I decided I was finally ready to make those D’s I loved so much permanent. One of the biggest things I had to work through, however, was how much I still cared what other people thought about what I did to my body. I knew I people would judge me.
In fact, here are some of the things people may be saying at this very moment about my decision to go under the knife — and my responses to them.
“She’s having a mid-life crisis.”
With each passing day, I’m getting dangerously close to forty. If I let myself go there, I realize this leaves approximately forty more years to drink mimosas and eat croissants at charming French cafes. Forty more years to enjoy my family. Forty more years to love the skin I’m in. It means that, hey, life really is almost half over.
Mid- to late-thirty-something mamas go ahead and let that realization sink in. It means we’ll probably never fall in love again if we’re happily married. It means we can be on the fence all we want about a first, second, or third kid, but soon biology will decide for us. It means that right now we’re the youngest and freshest and most commercially beautiful we’ll ever be. It means now or never. And #yolo. And carpe fucking diem.
Maybe my boob job is the result of a mid-life crisis, but so what? There’s nothing unhealthy about finally having the courage to do what you’ve always wanted to. Boobs? Blue hair? Laser hair removal on your entire body? An Instagram account where you take naked selfies with your cats? You do YOU. Because I’m finally doing me.
“Her husband made her do it.”
This is a tricky one. In my case, my husband begged me not to get breast implants. He loved me just the way I was, he said. He didn’t want to waste the money, he said. He worried about warping our daughter’s brain, he said. All valid points. But just as I wouldn’t let a man decide my fate when I was in college, I wasn’t about to now. I wanted this for me.
But what if I had been doing it for him? Like after two kids and a childbirth ravaged body I got a boob job to bring sexy back into my marriage. Would that be such a bad thing?
“She’s so vain.”
And guess what? So are you. Some people wear red lipstick and bleach their hair platinum blond because they like the way it makes them look. Some people tattoo sleeves of flowers and skulls down their arms because they think it’s beautiful. Some people get eyelash extensions. And nose jobs. And lip piercings. Some wear crocs and thrift store dresses and let their hair go gray because that’s their thing. Some do all of the above to varying degrees because they like it. We’re all beautiful, and we’re all vain. Even the most granola mom I know still cares if she has a piece of food stuck in her teeth. It’s human nature to want to look good. And the most stunning thing of all? This is America! Good means different things to different people, and we are free to embrace that. You be your version of beautiful, and I’ll be my version of mine.
They’re actually very much real. Not to sound like the great plastic surgeons of the USA paid me (they didn’t), but everything about my body still feels 100% natural. I was worried that it would seem like there’s something foreign hiding inside my body, like an alien baby monster, but I don’t. I feel just as real as I ever did before. PMS and cellulite and sleepless nights and all (will my children ever sleep!). While these fun bags were augmented, they feel like the real deal to me, and I’ve got no regrets.
“Her kids will think their bodies are inadequate.”
I struggled with this one the most. My sweet, innocent, unique individual of a daughter with her frog and Doc McStuffins obsessions. Her always too long bangs hanging in her brown eyes like an ill-fitting hat. Her sweet lack of understanding about vanity and sexuality and body shaming. She has never been a girly girl, but that’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy pretty things. And she’s perfect just the way she is. I want her to know that. Always. I want to protect her from insecurity and self-loathing. But I also want her to know that if she really doesn’t like something about herself, she can change it. After the wise old age of thirty-five, of course.
When my daughter’s old enough to understand or starts comparing her body to mine, I’ll be honest with her. I think that’s where society gets in trouble. Airbrushing and Instagram celebrities and our perfectly breasted friends The Kardashians – so much of it is smoke and mirrors. Wouldn’t we all feel better about ourselves if the beauty icons we looked up to were honest about the time, money, and — in some cases –surgery it takes to make them look like walking magazine ads?
I’ll always tell my daughter (and my son, for that matter!) the truth when they ask. I’ll say, “They look real, but they didn’t start out this way. These breasts fed you both, and you sucked them dry in the most satisfying way, but when it was over, I missed what I once had. And so, I did something about it.”
I’ll say, “When you’re thirty-something and have the money to make a change yourself – whether it be aesthetically or geographically – I’ll support you.” I may try to talk them out of it, just like my mom tried to dissuade me from that perm in fourth grade and, yes, even this boob job, but I’ll respect my children’s choices when they’re adults. Because just as it’s my body I’ve decided to very happily alter, they have their bodies with which to do the same.