Let's talk about breasts, baby...
...let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about breasts. Let’s talk about breasts.
(I would now like to offer my formal, written apology to Salt n Pepa for adapting their 1991 hit, “Let’s Talk About Sex” as my blog post title. It was too far, and yet, I couldn’t make myself not do it).
Boobs have been on my mind a lot lately. Specifically, my boobs. (Although the consideration of others’ boobs have also factored in). Believe it or not, today I want to talk about extra skin (surprise, surprise), and my ongoing journey of living in a smaller body than I previously did.
Okay, so here’s the T. With weight loss, my boobs went from a H cup to a D cup. But I am actually pretty sure that it would be a C cup if all the extra skin didn’t exist. That's a 5-6 cup-size difference. Bra sizes go like this: AA, A, B, C, DD, DDD, F, G, H… Don’t ask me why it is this way-- I have no answer. Bra sizes were clearly created by a man.
So, in clothing, here’s the difference (I am giving consent to examine and compare images of my boobs)--
And now here’s a little more up close and personal--
Warning: you’re about to see some wrinkly cleavage (no nip) so stop reading now if you don’t want to see more…
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By wearing a good bra, it's not like I feel deformed in my day-to-day, walking-around-life. And I am sort of leaning forward in these pics to exaggerate the skin wrinkles--they don't like routinely fall out of my bra like pictured--but you get the idea. Frankly speaking, without some serious support, my breasts look like scrotums. My stomach skin, (and my thigh skin, my chin skin, and my upper arm skin) is similar. Probably my ass too, but I can’t see that, so I am just conjecturing on that one. I am basically just a giant walking scrotum these days. Now before you start sending me hate mail for scrotum-shaming, know this--I am sure there is a segment of the population who thinks that scrotums are beautiful. I do not happen to be numbered among that segment of the population and if I had a choice, I would prefer my boobs not resemble them, nor any other place on my body, TBH.
Lately, as I have previously detailed too many times, I find myself feeling a sense of deep dissatisfaction with my body because of my extra skin. This dissatisfaction produces some pretty mind-bending cognitive dissonance for me, as it seems antithetical to everything I know to be the truth. (ie- There are no bad bodies… all bodies are good). Further, when I weighed 130+lbs more than I do now, while I didn’t love the way my body presented, I worked for years on loving her and was making progress. (Again I will bring up my fatkini summer). I didn’t feel the need to be covered up.
But now, after losing all this weight, I would venture to say I feel more dissatisfied with my (naked) appearance than I did before. Clothed I feel mostly fine-- there are lumps and bumps where I wish there wouldn't be, but it's fine.
Before I go any further, I feel like I need to include AGAIN the fact that pain and limitations on mobility were my motivating factors for my bariatric surgery. I worked really hard to make the decision free from the appearance factor. I knew I would probably experience life differently (and in some ways better) in a smaller body based on our American cultural value of women’s thinness, but everything in my soul fought against that. For the past several years I have grown SO FREAKING TIRED of the pressure on women to present a certain, culturally acceptable (thin) way. It’s just not fair. It causes all sorts of disordered eating and body dysmorphia. It’s just a fucking train wreck. As a feminist and believer in body positivity, I just cannot handle it.
And I hate that I care about this-- it makes me feel like a bad feminist.(But hey, Roxane Gay wrote a whole book about being a bad feminist, so it's not like I am in bad company). But I do not like the fact that I now have more of an obsession about my body than I did before. At the risk of being too transparent, I feel like in some ways I swapped an obsession with food for an obsession with my body image. I am working on that in therapy, but it’s not something I had anticipated as a potential outcome of my bariatric surgery.
Yesterday I asked on FB:
“Can you be a feminist and still want a boob job? Serious question. I am very much conflicted in my mind re: this issue. Think about it and get back to me.”
There were 44 comments, all to the effect that you can, indeed, be a feminist and want a boob job. There, essentially, were no dissenting voices on that issue. However, there were a few people that cautioned about the importance of motivation being internal and not based on the gaze of others. (Which, I TOTALLY agree with). In addition to the comments, I also got DMs from three different women who had gotten boob jobs, and even some pretty impressive after pics.
But I feel the question I presented wasn’t clear. I guess I absolutely knew you could be a feminist and want new boobs. I think a more accurate way to describe my internal conflict would have been to ask, “How do you know you have the correct motivation for having a boob job if you’re a feminist? How do you know you are doing it for yourself and not because of the gaze of others, or to conform to some bullshit societal norm?”
Over the past 4 years, I have been on a path of religious deconversion. More recently, the realities of how my election of evangelicalism has impacted my sexuality have been surfacing. In my journey to really live embodied, to really be alive in my own body, I have hit some major stumbling blocks in this area. The many and severe messages I received about sex from the evangelical church absolutely ravaged any healthy views about the issue. And I didn’t even realize it until I turned 40. (But I am getting into a story for another day--but, in short, therapy helps... that's my answer to everything, btw).
As I walk forward in my new truth, I am putting in the work to develop a new ethic for everything in my life. It’s kind of exhausting. Any time I am faced with a decision or a thought, I have to slow down the automatic (evangelical) messages that I pumped into my brain for 40 years, and force myself to sit with how I really, genuinely feel about it. It takes time and effort to determine what my values are and then subsequently make decisions based on those values. I do envision this becoming easier in the future once time has passed and I have made some of these decisions. But even so, I think that having a practice of not just always doing what you’ve always done is a healthy way to live. So I hope that I continue this practice once I sort my values out and not just “change teams,” so to speak.
But back to boobs. Obviously, in our culture, boobs fit into the realm of sexuality. (Which is kind of dumb because they are baby-feeding machines. But I digress). In my new headspace, I hold no judgement towards anyone who has gotten a boob job--for any reason. Whether it’s a reduction, augmentation, reconstructive surgery, literally not my business. You do you. I will do me. Your motivation is your deal--even if it’s for the sex work industry. (And I only include that last sentence because it's been a process for me to understand the predicament sex workers are in).
I know that having plastic surgery would likely make me feel more confident. I am just trying to honestly determine why that is. I want to own feeling good in my body. But I also don’t want to make decisions based on cultural norms or vanity. And that’s my #1 holdup right now. (#2 would be that figuring out how to afford plastic surgery would be a whole thing).
And my last concern has to do with long term satisfaction. Have you ever read the children’s book If You Give a Pig a Pancake? The premise is that if you give a pig a pancake, she’s going to want some syrup to go with it, and so on. Everything you give the pig will only lead to the pig asking for something else, or produce some sort of a bigger headache. So maybe it’s better to not give a pig a pancake. As I detailed before, there are several areas of my body where I am struggling with excess skin. It’s not just my boobs. And so let’s say that I make a choice to get reconstructive surgery done on my boobs. How, then, am I gonna feel about my stomach, which is as deformed as my boobs? So then maybe I go the “mommy makeover” route instead (you can google it, it also takes care of the belly situation). But then what about my thighs? And what about my batwing arms? So then a “whole body lift” (again, google it). But then what about my neck? Do you see what I am getting at? I am worried about giving a pig a pancake. There’s always going to be something else I am unhappy with. And I don’t want to live there. (And I can’t afford all that shit anyway). But then I also wonder if part of being sexually empowered is taking a step towards doing something that will just make me feel good just because I want to feel good in my own skin.
By the way, not that you asked, but Nick is Switzerland on the issue. He is neutral on the boob situation. He continues to not shame me for my body even though he’s now married to a scrotum. He would support me if this is what I decided, but he has offered no sway one way or another.
Anyway, I have no where to land on all of this. It’s not like I am going to tie all this up with a neat bow and a profound closing line. It’s just a peek into my head, and a further explanation as to my current churnings on feminism and boob jobs.
The end. (That’s my profound closing line).