In the 1980s, a questionable change in laws meant that plastic surgeons were allowed to advertise their services. That coupled with how easy it became to get your hands on a credit card meant that breast implants soared in popularity among women.
Four decades later, and boob jobs seem to be the new normal.
In 2018, over 300,000 women had breast augmentation surgery in America.
And although I’m not surprised by this statistic, it makes my heart hurt.
We’re targeted by adverts of women comparing tangerines to grapefruits, slogans on billboards telling us “size matters,” and manipulative commercial lines like, “Sherrifa is a feminist and had a breast enlargement (you can do both).”
When have you ever seen an ad on TV or on the street for penis enlargement?
You don’t. That doesn’t happen.
So why is it okay for breast enlargement to be advertised to women?
The consistent, oppressive message that girls and women are being sent worldwide is this:
You are not good enough the way you are. Bigger breasts will help fix you.
And it’s not just ads for cosmetic surgery that teach us this not-enoughness. It’s ads for everything: make-up, clothes, shampoo, face creams, perfume, hair removal, food… the list is endless.
If you manage to escape with your confidence and self-worth intact, you’re sadly an exception to the rule.
I didn’t. Around the age of 19 or 20, I went through a period of wanting a nose job, eye bag removal, and breast implants. I naively believed that was the answer to my insecurities. That throwing money at surgery to “fix” my inferior body would fix all my problems.
Lucky for me, I was a student at the time, and was close to broke. Since I didn’t have the money, I was left to deal with all the things I’d learned to dislike about myself.
It took years, but eventually the rose tinted glasses slipped off, and I began to wake up.
I saw how I’d been taught to hate myself over the years by clever marketing campaigns. I recognised how out of love with myself I was. And I realised that changing something externally wouldn’t change how I felt about myself on the inside.
But I get it.
I understand why women make the choice to have cosmetic surgery. I understand how your insecurities can rule you, and you want nothing more than to shake them off. And I won’t judge or criticise a woman for making her own choices.
But here’s the reality: breast implants won’t make you a confident woman. And a confident woman doesn’t need breast implants.
When you get breast implants, you’re not dealing with your insecurities. You think you’re getting rid of them, but you end up literally wearing them on your chest.
When you get breast implants, you’re sending a silent message to women worldwide that altering your body in the pursuit of societies’ female beauty ideal is okay. And you’re sending a message to men that it’s okay to continue objectifying and dehumanising women.
You believe you’re making a choice solely for you and no one else. But that’s what they want you to believe.
They want you to believe you’re empowering yourself by undergoing a painful, invasive, potentially fatal surgical procedure, in pursuit of the “perfect” female body.
That barbie body you’ve learned to accept as the female ideal is one shape. There’s probably a small percentage of women whose measurements match this. If yours don’t, that’s not a problem. That’s not something you need to fix.
Women are not meant to be walking, cyber-doll clones of one another.
And if someone else makes you feel inadequate because of your smaller breasts – or anything else for that matter – that’s their problem. And fuck them.
Because no matter how much hope you place in them, breast implants won’t make you confident. Not in the long run.
You know what will?
Embracing and adoring what you were born with.
Learning to love your “flaws” and quirks and those parts of yourself you’ve been taught not to.
Knowing that quick fixes don’t exist, and being prepared to spend real time healing your insecurities.
And accepting your imperfections, because you realise that perfection and beauty are no more than an illusion.