Is bigger better?

The question of “Do any of you have breast implants?” was recently posed on a message board I visit. Many of the women responded no, but that they’ve thought about it or would like to, especially because their boobs are deflated or lopsided after having nursed their child(ren). I don’t think any of these women are looking to get Pamela Anderson implants, just something that looks “natural” and fuller and makes them feel good about themselves.

One woman chimed in to say that although she has noticed a significant change in the shape of her breasts after having her daughter, she does not have any plans for elective surgery. She went on to say that she wishes “the standards of beauty would adjust so we could all embrace our mothering bodies instead of wishing we still looked like young women who haven’t had children.”

I don’t think what she said was meant to be a slight in any way on the women who would like to have breast implants, but the fact that many women have considered implants is a comment on our society. Let’s face it, our society does not desire women who look like they just stepped out of a National Geographic magazine. Big, round and voluptous are in. Small, flat and saggy are not (even though sagging is completely natural and something that happens to all women’s breasts over time).

I had to agree with her. I may not be happy with the way my breasts look after I’m done nursing all of my children (they are already well on their way to droopyville), but I think my image of what looks good comes heavily from celebrities and the media.

I want raise my daughter to have a healthy body image. I think that is getting harder and harder to do when there are so many big-buxomed teen idols and young women getting implants (if you’ve ever walked around CU’s campus you know what I mean).

But anyway, I digress.

I came across this website – 007 Breasts – that discusses the breast taboo in North America and our obsession with breasts, as well as other things (including a gallery showing a range of normal non-sexual breasts and a page about breasts and body image in puberty). According to the site: “By age thirteen, 53 percent of American girls are unhappy with their bodies; but by age seventeen, 78 percent are dissatisfied. By far the majority of adult women in the US are not happy with their breasts. The proof of that is that so many women (well over 200,000 in year 2002) choose breast implants, a risky procedure that can impair their health and forces them to have several surgeries afterwards and eventually have the implants removed.”

It goes on to say:
“What causes women to worry so much about their breast size as part of their body image?
The answer is laid out on the billboards, magazine ads, media and television. Practically every single woman you see in advertisements is extremely slim and has huge breasts, which are depicted as a sexual organ that catches the male’s attention. Women and girls in the United States are bombarded by those pictures all day long, so it is no wonder most girls and women therefore start believing (at least subconsciously) it is the ideal form of female body and that they should strive for it too.”

“In the USA people typically see only their own breasts and those of the supermodels – which have been fixed and changed and the photos have been airbrushed, modified, you name it. All they can perceive of other women’s breasts around them are just that they are bra-bound and bra-lifted. So this causes people – both men and women – think that the ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ breast is what they see the models have in TV and magazines, and that anything else is sagging/too small/ugly/abnormal. Oh, what a deception!”

My question is what can we do to help our society get away from thinking of breasts as sexual? How can we raise our daughters to have positive body images and our sons to not objectify women?

I don’t have the answers to these questions (I wish I did), but I think we can look to Europe (where breasts aren’t seen as taboo) for some ideas. If women saw more breasts than just their own and those of supermodels and celebrities, they would know that they are normal and breasts come in all shapes and sizes. I also think the more women breastfeed, the more breasts will be seen as a means of nourishing young rather than something to be sexualized. At least that is a place to start.

————————
“Plastic surgery and breast implants are fine for people who want that, if it makes them feel better about who they are. But, it makes these people, actors especially, fantasy figures for a fantasy world. Acting is about being real, being honest.” — Kate Winslet

“I am totally against plastic surgery. A lot of people think I have breast implants because I have the biggest boobs in the business. But I was a 34C when I was 17…They stay up when I wear a push-up bra. But if people could see me when I come home and take off my bra, how could they think these are fake?” — Tyra Banks

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14 thoughts on “Is bigger better?

  1. (holds hand up meekly) um yeah mine now totally look like flat pancakes.

    I don’t want to look like Jessica Simpson, I just want to be comfortable with me.

    Unfortunately, with the new changes, that may take awhile, but I enjoyed reading the boobie sites.

  2. I am not sure how my breasts will be when I am done nursing. My oldest is 10 and only nursed for three months. :( My second nursed for 15 months and weaned her self halfway through my pg with #3 who is 18 months and still nursing. Even though dh still nags me to wean him (and has been since he was 5 months old) I will most likely continue until 2. So, what they will look like I have no clue. THey are a bit on the saggy side by the end of the night, but I am also a bit overweight so who knows what is what. But I have already had three surgeries and will never do it again unless it is absolutely neccessary.

  3. Forgot to say also that when it comes to body image in general I tend to worry about the message I send my kids. Especially dd who sees me put on makeup before work. I worry that she will remember that and think that you n eed to cover your face with goop to be acceptable. I have issues with my complexion as teen and adult acne both have left some scars on my face and my skin tone is uneven. I still worry that I will pass on to my kids that the way a woman looks in her natural state is not good enough. Not that society won’t be passing them that message already, but it begins at home.

  4. After nursing 2, my breasts aren’t as perky as they were, but in a sports bra, who the heck knows anyway. My husband loves them and reminds me that he wants me to free them from the sports bras at night! Who in the heck wants to risk not having breast cancer detected, leaks, and infections in order to have creepy looking plungers on their chests anyway?

  5. If we somehow become independently wealthy and I have excess $$ lying around, I would consider getting laser surgery on my eyes to correct my vision so I could be without glasses or contacts for the first time in my life since I was 7. Though I’ve grown so accustomed to my face with glasses, I’m sure I’d feel naked without them and not go through with it. I just think it would be nice to be able to see the alarm clock in the morning without having to roll over and bring it within 2 inches of my nose, or to go swimming and see what’s happening around me wihtout water spots all over my lenses, or to be able to see what’s going on around me when I get to the top of a rollercoaster without the fear of having my glasses fall off. (Not that I’ve been on any rollercoasters in years, but you get the idea.)

    SC – Glad you enjoyed the boobie sites. Congrats on your pgnancy. :) Was it unexpected?

    Ginger – Good for you for continuing to nurse your ds even though your dh nags you. :) I know what you mean about wearing make-up, but I guess I don’t see slapping goop on one’s face (which I am also guilty of) as a big of a deal as having surgery.

    Running2Ks – Glad to hear your dh still loves your girls and wants them set free. ;)

  6. I will be the semi-vain one in the bunch ;) and hope that my comments will be taken w/ love and not bashing. lol I would never get implants simply due to the fact that I don’t think that a person should chg the way they are naturally by having surgery. It’s risky, can cause major health complications and dissatisfaction after you see that you still aren’t happy w/ your overall appearance afterwards. It seems that it becomes this obsession to fix everything after these women start with one thing.

    With all of that said, I do love having breasts. I love being able to feed my son but also love that it is a way that sets me apart from men outwardly. Our reproductive systems set us apart but we don’t see them. I wonder if that’s part of the reason our society is so pre-occupied w/ boobies. ;) Just for the simple fact that it’s a part of us that makes us women in the physical sense. Nice breasts help me feel attractive and sexy…I’m a product of society I know…but I feel a difference in my appearance now that I don’t have the ones that I started out with. I guess I am one of the
    1/4% of girls that liked their bodies (for the most part) when I was 17. I was slim, had an hour glass figure and a nice sized chest. It wasn’t BIG by any means but fit the rest of me nicely. It was that way up until last year (I’m now 27) and this year my breasts have gone down to um…well….let’s say that I’m going to have to size down my bra. They are small, a bit saggy, and there’s no “cleavage”.

    Again with all of that said….I will deal w/ my little breasts now and will not become totally pre-occupied w/ the fact that they aren’t nice and voluptous…simply due to the fact that I have grown and nourished another human being with them.

    Besides they are just sacks of fat right?! Hee hee

    Oh, I do have another theory though…maybe part of the reason some ppl are in love w/ breasts are because they *were*nourished by them as children. My son is so into my breasts that he fondles them, pats them and twiddles when he nurses one side. They represent warmth, love and security right now and maybe later on in life he will be pre-occupied by them. Maybe it will stem from the good loving feelings he had while nursing (on a subconscious level of course) and *then* maybe it will be skewed by society. What do you all think? Am I way off base with this theory?

  7. I’m not saying that I’m against having nice breasts. I just wish our society embraced *all* breasts as beautiful, regardless of how they look.

    What if our society thought saggy or small boobs were beautiful? What a different world we would live in. Then we would be even more excited to bf our children (and maybe more women would do so) so that our boobs would become droopy or look like uninflated balloons. ;) Yipee!

    I think you have a lovely theory about why “ppl are in love w/ breasts,” Brandy. And it could very well stem from times when everyone was breastfed and, as adults, we subconsciously remember the love and warmth that surrounded breasts in our infancy.
    But then I think about tribal cultures where naked breasts aren’t a big deal and their sole purpose is to nourish their young. And then I’m not sure if that theory still works.

    Anyway, it certainly is interesting to speculate why we are so in love with “fat sacks,” er, I mean breasts! ;)

  8. I agree, enjoy the breasts, love your body. But surgery for vanity is out for me. Oh, and I should say, I truly understand reconstructive surgery for accidents, diseases, etc.

  9. Thanks for the blog entry, Amy. Interesting site you found.

    And I have read that changes to breasts happen during pregnancy – breastfeeding isn’t responsible for these changes.

  10. slm73 -
    I just tried PMing you over on SK but it said you couldn’t get PMs. Arg.
    Anyway, here’s what I wanted to say:

    “i’d been wanting to PM you about the implants post. i think what you said was totally taken the wrong way. it saddens me and that’s part of the reason i wrote my blog entry. i feel like i understood what you were saying. i didn’t feel you were judging anyone and i hope i didn’t come across as judging anyone either.
    anyway, i’m glad that you got to read my blog. i hope that i didn’t say anything that was upsetting to you or anyone else on there.
    my issue is with our society (on this subject and SOOO many others LOL).
    anyway, i just wanted u to know that i get where you are coming from. :)
    amy”

  11. my first comment here, my friend Sabrina recommended this blog to me since I’m a fairly crunchy mama myself (and crunchifying her in the years before she hopes to concieve – bwaahahaha). I have naturally TOO large breasts (I’m 28 and have had various docs recommending a reduction since I was 16, but luckily found out about the extreme problems it causes for most women with breastfeeding, so I’ve put it off until after I’ve had my last kid, if ever). I was a 40H when I was measured at 8mo preg (my son turned 1 on May 26th and I haven’t managed to get re-measured since my milk supply stablized).

    The comment about maybe the breast obsession comes from when everyone was breastfeeding got me thinking… it’s possible, would be actually a reasonable conjecture if tied into Victorian emotional restraint issues and such (which was also a time when fashions started emphasising the breasts), but that also throws out the fact that small breasts WERE in fashion several times in the 20th century (think flappers, and there were also many supermodels pre-1985 or so that were much more realistically sized in at least the bra department). It’s becoming even more extreme in the last 15 years I think, but the pendulum continues to swing and I think we’re actually watching it move back more toward reality, slowly but surely.

    Just some thoughts… nice to meet ya :)

  12. I, too, have heard about women who had many problems w/ bfing after having breast reductions (even tho they were told by their doc that they’d be fine to nurse). So good for you for waiting. :) (And good for you for crunchifying your friend. hehe.)

    Nice to meet you too. I look forward to checking out your blog/website. :)

  13. eek… neither have been updated in AGES… Liam (my son) is rather high needs and has only recently gotten to the point where he’ll play happily by himself for any period of time, meanwhile we’ve moved 3 times since he was born and I’m living in Box Hell at the moment, so updating my websites has fallen WAY down on the priority list. I have a as-yet-childless neighbor friend who is a teacher and has promised to help me get things done this summer, hopefully her World of Warcrack addiction will allow that to happen!

    Speaking of moving, hubby just walked in the door with yet another minivan load of crap from our friend’s house (currently our possessions are in four different houses – our friend’s, my mom’s, my uncle’s, and the new place – we had to move in a hurry at the end of Februrary because of violent upstairs neighbors, so it’s been a real mess)

  14. “…hopefully her World of Warcrack addiction will allow that to happen!”

    I had to laugh at that because my HUSBAND has a WOW addiction too. Although, thankfully, he’s gotten a lot better about not playing when I don’t want him to. And I guess there are worse addictions to have, so what do ya do? ;)

    Sorry to hear about all of your moves (and scary neighbors). Hope you get to settle in at the new place for a while. :)

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