Tiffany, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story and tell you that I wish you good health. I truly hope that your surgery will help you feel better. It’s a journey. I got breast implants with a reconstruction at age 21. I had a breast deformity, and even with a deformity, I faced a lot of judgmental attitudes from people about the fact that I wanted my breasts done. Some people are not comfortable with the idea of elective procedures, particularly for features considered quintessentially “feminine” (It’s a form of misogyny that society has ingrained in many of us.). There may always be naysayers. The important thing is that you did what you did for you, and I can only assume that you did it after giving it long and very careful consideration. Another commenter gave very good advice: make sure to continue to choose skilled and ethical surgeons, as breast implants require periodic replacement. But I hope that the benefits for you far outweigh any potential “costs.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with breasts of any size or shape. But we do live in a society that expects women — and tells women to expect — to fit into a NARROW range of physical ideals, and (depending on our individual life experiences) it can be deeply painful when we realize we do not match that ideal. ESPECIALLY in the most intimate of ways. To be perfectly honest with you, my own deformity in my younger years did such a number on my self-esteem that it contributed to the fact that I spent seven years!!! in abusive relationships. Despite the fact that nearly everyone else in my world was kind to me and saw me as a wonderful person, I felt somehow “less-than” as a woman and therefore as a partner, given the fact that I was deformed in such an intimate way. As a result, it was hard for me to believe I deserved better treatment from men.
Getting plastic surgery to address my breast deformity at age 21 was literally life-changing. I am still thankful that I did it. Yes, it’s true, breast implants require maintenance and follow-up surgery eventually/periodically. But when I consider how my self-esteem improved, and how those self-esteem improvements REVOLUTIONIZED my life choices, the debt I went into for the surgery in my early-twenties was more than worth it. No longer looking in the mirror and feeling “defective,” I started seeing myself as a person with worth. And seeing myself as a person with worth made me realize that:
a) my dreams and goals had value too, and were therefore worth following.
b) I actually had valuable qualities to share with the world, so why not dig them out of storage and start sharing them?!
At the time I had my surgery, I was in an unhealthy relationship, working in an uninspiring job (whereas I wanted to be a writer), and living in the States with no plans of an international lifestyle (whereas I’d dreamed my entire life of traveling). My life now looks NOTHING like it did back then — in the best of ways. My relationship with that partner ended long ago, and I haven’t been in any abusive relationships since. I’ve segued into freelancing (which gives me time to write), spent a few years volunteering as a crisis counselor, lived in China, and currently live in Germany. I’ve met incredible people as a result of this all, and I feel sad to think about all the beautiful experiences that would not have even been possible had I not healed and grown enough to dare to take such chances with my life path. I share myself more. I express myself more. I can’t help but imagine that all of the courage and self-esteem in which those changes were grounded would have felt far harder to access if I were still feeling inferior, like I did back when I looked in the mirror at a deformity every day and defined myself by that “flaw.”
Society has a long way to go with body acceptance. But until we get there, plastic surgery CAN AND DOES change people’s lives for the immeasurably-better. Despite its elective nature, there is something about plastic surgery that can be deeply healing on an emotional and even spiritual level. In a sense, I feel more truly “me” than I did when I was younger; my surgery helped me feel less ashamed of myself, less afraid of being “seen” (literally and metaphorically speaking), and that in itself freed me to share more of my best self with the world.
In other words, I literally feel like I became a better person than I was before, largely thanks to the impact that my surgery had on my self-concept and, by extension, my life. This is not AT ALL to say that breast implants make a person superior in any way, but rather that, at least in my case, the surgery healed a lot of insecurities that were keeping me from stepping into my happiest, most inspired, most radiant and giving self. And I am deeply grateful for that.
Body modification is an ancient art. It’s not even limited to humans. We all feel drawn to different forms of decorating and reshaping our physical vessels. No one is better or worse for choosing or not choosing a given form of body mod. The important thing is that we each prioritize our health as we pursue the changes that inspire us, and that we respect each other’s choices in turn. Enjoy your new form, continue to prioritize your health as you select doctors for follow-up procedures, and may you find that the confidence and happiness you have gained from your surgery bring you healing in all areas of your life.