I’d been sent to a lap-dancing club by an editor keen to stroke, sorry, stoke the usual media outrage that occurs whenever a sexual establishment sets up in suburbia.
But far more interesting than the girls getting their kit off for a bunch of bankers (honestly, they were happily coining it) was their bodies. Or, more specifically, their breasts. Because, while I’d been cruising through the ’90s thinking shoulder pads were the most offensive blight on my generation, a score of women had been secretly upholstering their boobs so they were as plumped and shiny as the vinyl seats on a Ford Escort.
Anyway, Debbie let me have a good squish. Well, as much as you can squish a rock in a sock. She said her new breasts made her feel “empowered”. Certainly, the stash of notes in her garter was proof of a worthy investment.
Fifteen years on, I’m seeing Debbie’s boobs everywhere. They’ve spilled out of strip clubs and into our supermarkets and family beaches. I surf with a mother-of-three who works a Lara Croft look in her wetsuit.
I’m not in the business of telling other women what to do with their bodies. Not usually. Tatts, piercings, extensions – go for it, sister. But hacking into your boobs is different. As author Caitlin Moran writes, “Are the men doing it?” Men aren’t bolstering their penises with banana-shaped implants, so why are we butchering our beautiful breasts and stuffing them full of sofa-grade silicone? How did the skyward-nippled, cantilevered coconut look get so popular? And who likes these taut, angry, veiny, unyielding bazookas anyway? Aren’t there enough ball sports?
Let me be clear, I’m not talking about post-mastectomy surgery. No, I’m concerned about the 21-year-olds who, instead of saving for a car, are working overtime for a D-cup. These girls aren’t vain, stupid or bullied by their boyfriends; rather, they were raised in a culture where the celebrated female aesthetic of big boobs atop a tiny torso has burst out of the porn industry and into the mainstream. And while nature rarely bequeaths such a combination, science has given us the means to achieve it and society has given its say-so. Why? Because, apparently, we’re worth it.
Some facts: aside from the PIP scandal where 40,000 women were stitched up with industrial silicone, breast implants have a shelf life. Most last 10 years before they shrink, move, harden or leak and you need new ones. Imagine major surgery, risk of infection, general anaesthetic, scarring – not to mention the cost – five or six times during your life. How did we become so scalpel happy?
Oh dear, I’ve gone all finger waggy. Girls, we’ve been peddled a lie by an increasingly sexualised society. And only we can change it. Boys may bang on about boobs but men – good men – don’t care. And some are scared witless by a pair of manufactured melons.
If you’re doing it for confidence, then think less about how you can acquire it and more about why you lack it. As my A-cupped friend says, “Women drivel on about needing bigger breasts to feel empowered. A bigger intellect will do that. And a nice blow-dry.”
Confidence built on artifice will crumble. Remember, our bodies are where and how we live; they’re the only thing we truly own.
Angela Mollard is a Sydney-based journalist who has now combined motherhood with writing for magazines both in Australia and the UK. You can follow her on Twitter here.
This article was originally published on The Punch here and has been republished with full permission from the author.