The right to choose…breast implants

December 31, 2007

“Does feminist mean a large unpleasant person who’ll shout at you or someone who believes women are human beings? To me it’s the latter, so I sign up.” — Margaret Atwood

One day over Christmas I was talking to my aunt, who expressed surprise I had had breast surgery, since she “thought I was a feminist”. I asked her what she meant by feminist, and she said, “Well don’t feminists think breast implants are a form of female mutilation with the end goal of pleasing men and fitting into their ideals of women?” I agreed that some people do hold this view, but that clearly, I am not one of them. And yes, I am a feminist, if feminism means equality for women and fighting for (and celebrating) our right to choose after centuries of oppression.

I was interested in what my aunt said because it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. Of course, I respect other people’s opinions and to be honest, I don’t care if people judge me for my choices, although I see that my defending them vigourously seems like I do…but I just wanted to point some things out.

If you agree with the general principle of people’s (not just women’s) right to choose what to do with their own body then you would agree that breast surgery should be as accessible and popular as it is. You may not personally understand why women do it, but unless you are a woman with little or no self-esteem then how would you understand? Self-esteem is tied to different things for different people–some men have no confidence because they have a small penis, some women suffered years of comments about having small boobs, some people feel weird about a big nose or massive feet. I’m no psychologist, but it’s pretty obvious that if any of these things can be altered, it will make a huge difference to someone’s life. Why is that wrong? So what if someone wants to risk surgery and spend money to feel good? Is it jealousy that makes people resent it?

It’s a safe procedure, when done by the right surgeon. Which thankfully most of them are. The risks are for the individual woman to sort through. So what’s left is the tangled feminism argument, which basically says that women who have breast implants are doing it so men will think they look good, or so they fit into society’s warped ‘ideal woman’ mode. What bollocks. Why should men take the credit for women’s self-image? If we see a woman who looks great and has made an effort to feel good and look great, why can’t we accept she did it for herself and not for some man? THAT is sexism, people, a historical stereotype that still lingers on every woman alive. If a girl dresses in a fabulous dress and six inch shoes and gets her hair done, men assume (sorry, some men) she did it for male approval. We all know that women dress to impress other women, since a. most men don’t give a shit about what’s fashionable and b. a lot of women are veerrry competitive. And of course there are women who dress to impress men, but so what? Should we all be labelled as continuous men pleasers because we want to feel good about ourselves?

Another common argument from those who oppose breast implants, after the safety and sexist arguments are dealt with, is that breast augmentation should be reserved for women who have had the traumatic experience of breast cancer or are similary disfigured. I have obviously not had breast cancer and won’t try imagine the pain and suffering these women go through and I’m not comparing my life with those of cancer victims. But breast surgery is an elective procedure done by choice, is it not a medical neccessity. For anyone. A woman who chooses to have breast implants put in after breast cancer surgery is doing it for the same reasons as a woman with tiny, or no, breasts. Those reasons are for a personal desire for self-confidence and self-esteem, to regain and to have what they believe is and should be their natural right. They, we, do it because they want to look different. Again, someone with breast cancer is of course different to your average plastic surgery patient and I am not taking away from their suffering. But saying breast implants are only OK for women emotionally scarred because of cancer is a flawed argument.

Women who already have big boobs, and have surgery for their own personal reasons–be it their job, because they’ve always wanted bigger boobs–may be coming from a different place but have just as much right. We all have the right to choose. So make your choice and hold your head up high.

3 Responses to “The right to choose…breast implants”

  1. Melissa said

    You said it….
    I’m very fit, work out a lot…just doing this because I think it’ll look great. No self esteem issues…I like my body. I JUST WANT BOOBS!! Why is that such a hard concept for some to wrap their head around?????

  2. Melissa said

    …I have to add….I’m an elementary school teacher. …a conservative, educated person. I JUST WANT BOOBS!!!

  3. alex94 said

    I hear you– I wanted them to and now I have them! This isn’t the middle ages. You go get them, and enjoy them and don’t let anyone put you down for it 🙂

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