getting a boob job

Reader M. M. writes:

I have really small boobs. I know that as a girl I’m supposed to be happy about whatever my breast size happens to be, but I’m not. I want to get a boob job. What do you think?

Dear M.M.:

I think there are a few constraints in getting a boob job.

1. Money. Boob jobs cost a lot of money. Like, $5k per boob. I don’t have that kind of money to just throw around; most other people don’t, either. Getting a boob job is like buying a new car: if you have loads of cash, it’s not really that big a deal. Insurance won’t cover it (unless you have some magical unicorn insurance I don’t know about), so it’s gonna’ be outta’ pocket. If you’re having to choose between boob job and housing/food/basic needs, I’d say forget the boob job and reprioritize a little.

2. Safety. Plastic surgery is major surgery, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Plus, it’s unnecessary surgery, which makes it even more dangerous — in my opinion (and no, I’m not a doctor), putting someone under anesthesia and cutting them open should be a last resort. If you do decide to go under the knife, make sure your doc is highly regarded amongst his/her peers and clients. This will also mean you will probably have to spend more money. Don’t fall prey to the cheap, desperate boob job in Mexico that leaves you scarred and in pain and a guest on 60 Minutes. Apparently, saline-filled implants are the “safest” type out there these days, but that doesn’t mean they come without complications. All major surgery is painful to recover from.

3. Social implications. This is probably what you wanted me to get into in the first place. Consider a few things:

the ideal?

Is this the ideal you're striving towards? Image: Roland Darby / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

– If/when you get your boobs done, everyone will know. Unless you move far away after the surgery to a new town where nobody’s seen you before, the change will be noticeable. Some people will probably ask. Others will probably judge you. If you’re getting the boob job for yourself, then that won’t matter to you. Every girl I have ever known who got a breast augmentation has been talked about and ridiculed behind her back. (A breast reduction, on the other hand, is generally lauded. Go figure.) Whether it’s jealousy or actual disgust from the Great Sisterhood, it doesn’t matter; these girls still get more ridicule than applause.

– If plastic surgery is pretty “normal” in your social circle, you are much less likely to have backlash from friends and family after you have it done. Part of this is the wealth-level of your friends (if everyone has plenty of money, nobody really sees it as an issue that you’re spending that much to get something “unnecessary” done), but it’s also the cultural acceptance rate for the procedure of the area you live in. In my experience, urban areas are much more accepting of plastic surgery than rural ones. In NYC, it’s often just “what one does” — get a new nose, get some cellulite taken care of, get your eyelids done. In Albuquerque, it’s a bit more taboo. I’m pretty sure nobody discusses their surgeries openly without a bit of discomfort from those around them (Joan Rivers is trying to break this taboo. Trying real hard.).

– I think I’m supposed to ask you a lot of questions about WHY you want to get this surgery. I’m supposed to tell you you’re a beautiful and precious snowflake, which, of course, you are. I’m also supposed to rail on about how great it is to have small boobs — perky for life! We can run shirtless! etc. And I’m supposed to remind you that the military industrial complex should have no say over how your body looks or feels and you should be happy in your own skin.

But I know the feeling of not liking something about yourself. And I also know that modern technology allows us to change those things.

For instance:

I wear contact lenses. I would pay an exorbitant fee to get Lasik surgery. Could I argue that this surgery would be a health issue, rather than a vanity issue? Yeah, I could — I need lenses to see. That’s what makes it different from breast implants; you don’t need breast implants for any health reason. (And, in fact, breast implants will probably cause you more health problems than they’d fix.) But I don’t neeeeed Lasik to see. I can fix it with glasses. Or contacts.

How about braces? You could argue that having straight teeth offers some health benefits, but that’s pushing it. Braces are pretty much straight up vanity. The difference between braces and breast implants is the breadth of the surgery necessary to accomplish it — braces are external and, while somewhat painful, not really that serious.

And then there are other aesthetic vanity issues, like moles. I have a mole on my nose that has been there my entire life. I have gone back and forth on getting it removed. It really mars my face and makes everything asymmetrical. People get really upset when I say I’ve thought about having it removed. “But it’s your whole personality!” seems to be the consensus. And I had one boyfriend who told me that getting a mole removed from my face was tantamount to getting a boob job (although he clearly forgot the difference between major and minor surgery in that comparison).

What I’m saying is, I understand why you would want to change your body, and why you would choose to do so, given the means, time, and energy.

But I must bring up the other side. There is something to be said for fighting against the awful American normalization of “good looks”. We can’t all be 5’4″ 110 lb perfectly-tanned blondes with C-cups and no cellulite. It gets boring. We need some girls with raven hair; some girls with pale skin; some freckles; some dark-skinned girls; some olive-skinned girls; some A cups; some double Ds. We need some girls to have hips. And not because it’s what guys are attracted to. (Surveys show guys think blondes are sexier. So what?)

Maybe bigger boobs will give you more confidence. Maybe it’ll get you more free drinks at the bar. Maybe it’ll make your clothes fit better. (Lord knows my tops never fit right due to my complete lack of boobage.) Maybe it’s not a problem that can be solved with a push-up bra and some Kleenex.

But you’re also buying into the idea that you need to go to extreme measures to fit into an ideal that you had no say in establishing.

We all go through periods where we want to change ourselves. We lose weight. We dye our hair. We take a class in cooking or a foreign language. Self-betterment is a great goal to strive towards.

If you think that getting breast implants will make you “better” — feel better, look better, whatever better — then okay. Get the surgery.

At the end of the day, it’s your body. I can’t tell you what to do with it, and neither can anyone else. Just make sure it’s you making the decision.


5 Responses to “getting a boob job”

  1. 1 Will
    March 31, 2011 at 11:13 am

    If you feel like it’s something that might make you more attractive to the opposite sex (or to the same sex if that’s your thing), it’s worth pointing out that there’re plenty of people out there who prefer smaller breasts as well. I for one am somewhat put off by larger. The kinda comical way I have to talk about it is this: More than a mouthful is a waste~

  2. 2 CMG
    March 31, 2011 at 11:17 am

    “People get really upset when I say I’ve thought about having it removed. ‘But it’s your whole personality!’ seems to be the consensus. Well, it’s not your WHOLE personality, but it definitely makes you Kat Cox. Include me in the consensus (with that qualification) 🙂

  3. 3 JA
    March 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

    One other interesting phenomena is guys dislike of them. Many of my friends prefer real over fake, regardless of size despite the stereo type of guys like girls with big/fake boobs. Speaking as a guy I am totally indifferent and I believe that if it makes you feel better about yourself then more power to you. I don’t see it much different that plucking your eye-brows or wearing makeup to make yourself feel more attractive, baring the significant risks of course. In the last couple of years of dating more than half of the girls I have been with have had implants. Again, I dont have a preference so I think this speaks to how common it is becoming. Also, I have asked all of them why they did it and if they have any regrets. Most say for self image and some say just because they wanted to. Every single one of them love their new “girls” and have no regrets.

  4. 4 Tony
    March 31, 2011 at 12:10 pm


    Get a boob job, that is. Boobs are more than just their size.

  5. 5 jes
    March 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    you know they have to be redone after some amount of time? Like, 15 or 20 years…

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