I sat inside the Victoria’s Secret dressing room, topless and humiliated. On the other side of my dressing room door, my friends squealed about all the cute, lacy bras they were getting from the semi-annual sale. Feeling freakish and ugly because I couldn’t stuff my breasts into the DDs — the biggest bras in the store — I sat on the floor and bawled, sure there was nothing I could do about it.
I’ve never been the pretty girl. My mum and best friend would object, but they know it’s true. The ‘smart one’, the ‘hip one’, the ‘crazy one’ — sure, but never pretty. I didn’t hit puberty until ninth grade, but then it came all at once. My completely flat chest ballooned to a C almost overnight. My friends said I was so lucky, and by my sophomore year of college, I was 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 metres) and 36DDD. I envied those who could wear skimpy tops, buy bathing suits from the mall, and even go braless.
No matter how many layers I wore, when I walked by shop windows, I’d see my chest bouncing by in the reflection. I walked a lot, and almost daily, men would make lewd comments and gestures at me out of car windows. I learned to cross my arms across my chest and pretend to ignore the calls of “hey baby” and “hey slut”.
Team Mamamia Out Loud discuss the feminist implications of a society that is entirely preoccupied with women’s looks:
But even when it came to the good guys in my life, there were problems. I found myself apologising to boyfriends for my disproportionate body and insisting on undressing in the dark. Each of them told me I was beautiful, but I couldn’t see it, and I didn’t feel it.
Yes, there were days of horrible back pain. Yes, my posture was atrocious, because the weight kept me from standing up straight. But those things weren’t on my mind when my mother called to suggest the surgery — when she told me there might be a solution. I had never heard of breast reduction surgery, so when she told me about it, I cried tears of joy. Suddenly, I had hope that I might someday feel comfortable, or maybe even beautiful, in my own skin.
My mum took me to a plastic surgeon, where I was first shown a video about reduction mammaplasty, commonly known as breast reduction surgery. The video’s aim seemed to be to scare away anyone who wasn’t 100 per cent sure they wanted the surgery. The risks were emphasised more than the benefits, even though breast reduction has one of the highest patient satisfaction rates of any cosmetic surgery.