PODCAST: Are breast implants 'for you?'

Are breast implants “just for you?” In this episode, I speak with Lexie Kite of Beauty Redefined about the idea that breast implants build self-esteem and are simply a personal choice women make, as well as the possible health consequences of getting this kind of surgery.

Lexie Kite completed her PhD in the study of media and body image at the University of Utah. You can learn more about her work at Beauty Redefined.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • Missfit

    I was listening to a radio show the other day and the question raised was whether breast implants were still ‘in’. There were women calling, saying they had breast augmentation and that it had a positive impact on their self-esteem. They wanted to make clear that they didn’t do it for men but for themselves (some said their boyfriends were against the idea). Me think it was for a man though, the big man in their head… One said she works on television and that breast augmentation was definitely a plus for her career. The show concluded that everything was finally about ‘choice’. Never did they address why a woman would come to think that her worth is so tied to the size of her breast. No discussion about the society we live in, one in which a significant number of women are choosing to mutilate their perfectly healthy bodies (women represent more than 90% of cosmetic surgery patients). I personally have breast implants. I do regret my (patriarchy moulded) choice. It is true that it desensitizes. Now that I privilege comfort and integrity over fuckability, the discomfort they occasion bothers me, the pain I inflicted on my body, myself, disturbs me. I find the whole concept ridiculous and I wish women would just say ‘f*** off’ to all this and truly love themselves (but as we know, they are a lot of oppositional forces out there).

    • bella

      All my life I’ve had the kind of breasts these women desired. All my life I’ve been sexual harassed, assaulted, groped, leered at, heard filthy comments spoken at me to be heard, had it assumed I was gagging for it and treated that way, made jokes about meant to make everyone laugh har har very loudly at my expense because: what a guy. I have huge depressions in my shoulders that never go away, I have cysts under my nipples from stress on the ducts that go from the mammary glands to there, I have marks that look like melanomas and burns, but it’s the skin breaking down from being stretched, I have burnt my nipple cooking and been the object of didn’t even supress the smirks and comments by dermatolgists. I’ve been leered at and commented on “oh my god why doesn’t she do something about that” when I was sedated (but not quite). I’ve been told I can get ‘help with that’, that I shoudl apply for disability help for my bras, but that’s too embarassing so I pay a fortune out of a tiny tiny income to buy ONE a year. And it’s a compression bra.

      I’ve lost a beauty pagaent because they were too big. That hurt, because there was a monetary prize.

      I have been told by the pre-surgery examining breast doctor that I would have to wait up to two years or more on a waiting list for a reduction mammoplasty, because the surgeons who are skilled enough have all gone to private clinics where they are putting bags-o-tits on men. It’s a much easier surgery and they can do many in one day, instead of one reduction a day, only partially paid for. Yes, Universal health care will not pay for my breast surgery. But they will for some man depending on jurisdiction.

      I am afraid of when I go to a care center someday as old women eventually do, that I will be the recipient of harm because of them.

      As much as I would like to say I understand what’s going on, because I’m a radical feminist and I should, I don’t. I kind of go into disassociation when they are the focus of conversation. Even by me.

  • Laur

    Really interesting, podcast, Meghan. Especially the information re: how breast enlargement does not improve women’s self-esteem and all the problems that can accompany breast enhancement.

    I also appreciate the two commenters who took the time to tell their stories.

    I wonder if there are problems associated with breast lifts and breast reductions? Presumably, they wouldn’t be filling the breasts with anything, so many of the problems described in the podcast would not be applicable, though there may well be other problems.

  • Rchen

    I really like Beauty Redefined and I have been following them on Facebook for a while. The message that women are more than bodies to be looked (and consumed) is a very important one. I wish I had heard it when I was younger. The statistics on plastic surgery that she shared were pretty shocking, but I guess I should not be so surprised. I had a rhinoplasty some years ago. I was tired of not liking the way my nose looked and had it done about six months before my wedding. It didn’t occur to me to question why I disliked the way it looked so much. Now that I am a mother, I wonder if my children will have the same shape nose and see that I had mine changed and feel that I don’t think they are good enough as they are. Other than that, I don’t regret it, but I wish that we lived in a world where nobody would have ever paid that much attention to the shape and size of my nose. I can relate to the women that want or have breast augmentation. There is just a ton of pressure for women to fit a certain ideal, and not much support even among other women to fight that pressure.

  • Stephie Smith

    As a woman with small breasts I wanted a breast augmentation for many years. When I became a Registered Nurse I changed my mind. While it is true that a good breast augmentation can LOOK satisfactory, they FEEL fake, fake, fake. They feel fake to both you and to anyone else who may happen to even brush up against you. As anyone who HAS real breasts knows, real breasts are soft and squishy. A breast augmentation is not soft and squishy at all. A BA is firm and often can become quite hard.

    I suspect that most plastic surgeons are men, and to most men who may suffer from adolescent fantasies, a firm high breast may seem desirable. But it’s not, please believe me. I have grown to love my “little” soft and squishy breasts. A breast augmentation is needless mutilation. Don’t do it.

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