An off-the-cuff comment from this woman's boyfriend drove her to seek surgery.

On Triple J’s sex show The Hook Up last night, listeners heard a story that will likely hit close to home for many.

“I have absolutely tiny boobs and feel very self conscious about it,” the letter to the show started.

“Particularly because a current partner recently said while we were hanging out ‘You know you have no tits?’. Now I refuse to take my top off when we have sex and it just feels like I have a boys chest.”

Inspiring the show’s conversation of breasts, it quickly became clear she wasn’t the only one to have suffered a major knock to her self esteem thanks to a so-called ‘harmless’ comment.

Listen: Women share their breast stories. Post continues after audio.

For caller Emily, an off-the-cuff comment from a boyfriend affected her so badly, she seriously considered surgery.

“My experience is I was dating a guy a few years ago and he was lovely but he just didn’t understand the pressure that a relationship can put on a woman who is already insecure about my boobs,” she told host Hannah Reilly.

“So I have one breast that is a C cup and one that is an E cup, so it completely skipped two cup sizes. He used to constantly make remarks about it, just kind of lighthearted, but I don’t think he really understood how self conscious I was about it.”


Image: iStock

She says as a result she ended up booking to get a breast reduction.

"It was going to cost me something like $4000 just to get a reduction on one of them and as far as I know it's quite a lengthy procedure and with a lot of recovery time," she said.


"We broke up a little shorter after [I made the booking] and I didn't really realise how much his opinion actually changed my perception of myself."

Listen: The latest ridiculous thing plastic surgeons want us to change? Our nipples. Post continues after audio.

It's good news now, though.

"And now I'm dating this guy now who is just the most lovely guy and he hasn't even pointed it out, he doesn't care. It's just amazing how relationships can change your perception of your own breasts."

According to clinical psychologist and body dysmorphia expert Dr Ben Buchanan, insecurities arising from comments from peers is very common.

"It's really common for just a tiny little comment from someone to really spark a great deal of fear and someone can ruminate it for a long time," he told the program. (Post continues after gallery.)


"Some people can look in the mirror for eight hours after they get one of those little niggling comments and it can really affect people so I think that's a really good lesson to really only make comments that you have considered, are positive and are going to build someone's self esteem."

It's clearly not something that can be just brushed aside either.

Dr Buchanas says he often sees these comments trigger the development of the mental disorder body dysmorphia.

"This is an extreme obsession with one's body, where you get really, really concerned that it's disfigured or ugly when in fact it's pretty normal," he said. (Post continues after gallery.)


"It can be really debilitating and people can look in the mirror for hours everyday or they might not want to leave the house because they're scared of being evaluated by other people.

"As a result people can sometimes withdraw from sex, not want to have sex at all with their partner because of a little comment like that triggering body dysmorphic disorder."

While Emily didn't go through with her planned surgery, many people suffering from body dysmorphia do.

According to Dr Buchanan, about 50 per cent of people with the disorder seek some form of change to their appearance ranging from chemical peels to more invasive plastic surgery like rhinoplasty.

Of those, 84 per cent will still feel dissatisfied with their body after the surgery.

"Unfortunately people tend to have the disorder for a decade or so, primarily because they think they have a physical problem rather than a psychological one," he says.

"So they might consult plastic surgeons and dermatologists but don't think 'I have a mental problem that affects my self-esteem rather than what my boobs or my face looks like'."

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected].

You can also visit their website, here.  

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