This may surprise you but I actually appreciate when someone asks me this question because to me it means that they aren’t willing to speculate or gossip but respect me enough to ask me directly. I usually respond with something like, “Yes, my breasts are real and so are the saline implants I have inside them.” What is “real” anyway? And I’m not simply asking that question as a Matrix fan, I really want to know what real means to you. Do my breasts define how genuine of a person I am?
Once I’m asked this question I soon begin to wonder if women who have had to have breast reconstruction due to fighting breast cancer get asked the same question and what it must be like for the person asking to hear that this woman has implants because she went through the trauma of losing her breasts to cancer. I mean, fighting the trauma of breast cancer is something everyone can get behind, support fighting, and declare as a trauma that needs to be dealt with but what about those of us who have known traumas that are quieter than breast cancer? Trauma is anything that overwhelms our system whether emotionally, physically, psychologically, etc. so who’s to say that one trauma is more valid to get treatment than another? Now in NO WAY am I belittling dis/ease or illness such as cancer, I have lost loved ones to cancer. Cancer is a terrible disease and I am simply using it as an example of how our society can be selective about what traumas it rallies around. Do we judge women differently for choosing to get reconstructive surgery or not when they have experienced any kind of physical trauma?
I felt deformed after I breastfed my infant for 10 months. I felt deformed and struggled with feelings of shame and inner conflict wondering if it was worse to be what others would view as vain or even “slutty” by getting implants or to just live my life struggling to feel good about my body and wearing the scars of motherhood proudly because I knew that this would be a life long struggle… You see, when I was a little girl I was in an accident that had mutilated my body in a way that made doctors turn away and refuse to treat me for eight years so all through puberty I felt deformed and ugly. No one could see my scars or the damage from the accident but the scars were there, externally and internally so my puberty was riddled with this trauma defining me along with being a general outcast for being “ugly”, “skinny like an Ethiopian”, “weird”, “nerdy”, “hairy”, having “four eyes”, and just plain different for reasons I don’t need to list.
I was just getting comfortable with my body as I awakened as a woman for the first few months of marriage before finding out I was pregnant seven months into my marriage. After breastfeeding my infant for 10 wonderful months I stood in the mirror looking at these empty and useless bags hanging on my chest at the age of 21… These empty sacks looking like week old party balloons no one took down off the wall when the party was over, I was right back in my childhood all over again and nothing anyone else would say to reassure me helped.
When my son was seven I finally was brave enough to get breast augmentation and I began to feel like myself again. It’s alright if you don’t understand why this was so important to me, I don’t need you to understand. What I do want and the reason I am bringing this up is because breasts have been in the news a lot lately, or at least, I have been hyper-aware of it lately. Breasts, (on women anyway), are commonly seen as a definition of how sexually proficient a woman may be and I can say from experience, if a woman isn’t confident in her breasts it may have an affect on her sexual satisfaction at no fault of her partner, (although partners are frequently blamed, I believe women ultimately hold the power and control over their orgasm but that subject is for later).
My next blog will have some examples/comparisons to demonstrate how revered breasts are in our culture along with why I wonder if this power is a “good” thing, a “bad” thing, or something that has as much value as we give it as individuals and society. Follow this blog or subscribe anonymously by email to see the examples and join the discussion as it’s posted. In the meantime, ponder how important other women’s breasts are to you, how often you have labeled or judged breasts and why. And please feel free to share your opinions on why you think breasts are so important to our culture in the comment section below.