'I chose a flat chest after a bilateral mastectomy. I'm not alone but the decision is often questioned.'

I am flat. As a surfboard. As a breastless woman, I don't conform to some of the stereotypical characteristics associated with being female… and it doesn't bother me.

My chest is flat after a bilateral mastectomy in 2019. I had this surgery because I carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation which puts me at high risk of developing breast cancer. My flat chest and I are not alone, not by a long shot. There is a passionate crowd of women in Australia (and indeed the rest of the world) who choose to go flat after breast surgery. We affectionately call ourselves 'flatties'.

For International Flat Day on October 7th, I want to open your eyes to our community of flatties and show you that we too are beautiful, healthy and happy in our decision to live the flat life.

While you're here watch, Inside Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy Decision. Story continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

Sadly, flatties often face challenges to achieve flatness (the flat equivalent of greatness).

Some women overcome cancer treatment and surgery, only to be faced with comments like, "Oh, you're one of 'those ones'," (aka women who choose to go flat). Other women are subject to unsolicited advice such as, "You'll look aesthetically unpleasing if you go flat." I know a woman who was talked out of going flat as she was being wheeled into her mastectomy surgery.


For me, when I was planning my risk-reducing mastectomy surgery, the option of 'going flat' was offered as the lesser of the options. 

My surgeon discussed with me the options that she could provide. She also told me of a study that showed women who woke up after a mastectomy and had some form of breast mould had improved mental health outcomes compared to those who didn't reconstruct their breast(s). 

I respect my surgeon, and I'm sure she didn't deliberately try to sway my decision, but her arguments presented in those soft, calm words were the reason I initially chose to reconstruct with breast implants after my mastectomy.

Breast implants created many health issues for me so I had them removed (explanted) only 13 months after getting them. Oddly enough, during that process, I realised my decision to initially reconstruct was made to appease others, and to conform to societal expectations that women should have breasts. When I had implants, I couldn't feel them, they made me feel cold, and they gave me no pleasure.

Women choose to go flat for any number of reasons. I chose to go flat because I didn't want to have any further surgeries or complications. My friend, Gillian, had breast cancer in one breast and then opted to remove her other breast to reduce her risk. 


Another friend Mel went flat, one breast due to breast cancer and the other because she'd simply had enough of medical procedures. 

Joanna chose to go flat after breast cancer left her with "uncomfortable and annoying" asymmetry following a single mastectomy.

Joanna. Image: Supplied


I spoke with many flatties when researching this article and all of us experienced discouragement from health professionals about going flat. Mel was told, "You don't want to be self-conscious on the beach." Another asked Joanna, "But why are you choosing to live without breasts?". I know women who were told they'd look "disfigured" if they went flat. 

One friend's surgeon also unhelpfully told her that he'd taken "a perfectly healthy breast" after he removed her second breast as she requested.

When I subsequently removed my implants, asking for an aesthetic flat closure, my surgeon offered to leave a pocket of skin for a few months in case I changed my mind.

That's a valid option, I agree, but let me explain this with an ice cream analogy… It was like going into an ice cream shop and confidently ordering chocolate, then having the seller offer me honeycomb because they thought it might be a better option. 

Why is it that when women ask to go flat, they are often presented with other options? I guess it's informed choice but it feels like our decisions, because they contradict societal norms, are not immediately respected.

Joanna is stoked with her decision to remove her E cup 'uniboob' and not have to bother balancing out her look with a prosthetic breast. Melanie is happy she avoided having to take long-term hormone medication because she chose to have the double mastectomy after breast cancer. Gillian wanted to reduce her risk of more cancer by removing her other breast. And I'm happy to be healthy and confident as a flattie.


Robyn (left) and Gillian (right). Image: Supplied

While it was a tough decision for each of us, we now enjoy the freedom that comes with being flat. No bras, minimal cancer risk, no potential complications from implants and no more surgeries.

My friend Pascale and I launched the Flat Life Australia Facebook group in March this year, with the intention of creating a place where flatties (uni or bilateral), or those considering going flat, could support and connect with each other. We have over 300 members in the group, and it's growing every day.


Pascale. Image: Supplied

There are flat groups of huge numbers in America as well as organisations who advocate normalcy around going flat. There's a new character in The Simpsons - Dr Sage - who is a uniboober on our screens. And check out the BooblessBabe on TikTok for some flat inspo!


Earlier this year, I was part of the It Takes Boobs campaign which is an insurance ad campaign advocating for women and challenging norms.

This campaign focuses less on the physical and more on the language and perspectives around bravery. I admire the creators and minds behind this campaign for including a breastless woman (scars and all) in a campaign called It Takes Boobs. A brave, inclusive and deliberate decision that should be celebrated.

I enjoy seeing small steps towards a more accepting world for flat women. 

When it comes to breast surgery, I would love to see more women empowered to make the choice they want, for themselves, with societal norms and other biases set aside. And I want women to know that if they choose to go flat after a mastectomy, they are not alone. You can live a happy, healthy life sans breast(s). After all, one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and affected by such decision-making in her lifetime.

If you are a woman who has had a mastectomy for cancer or cancer risk reduction and you have chosen flat closure, you can have your say and contribute to research focused on women’s experiences going flat after a mastectomy. Information about the study can be found here.

Featured Image: Supplied.