Breast implants~ Does society really have anything to do with it?
A recent Twitter conversation brought up the subject of how society pushes women to get implants. How society has an impact on the body image of many women. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to give some information and perspective on this.
First I want to start with some information about me. For anyone who is not familiar with my blog, I have breast implants. It’s a choice I made on my own and I fall into one of the normal categories that many women who get implants fall into. Now for my educational background and why I feel qualified to write this post. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Psychology. Now what exactly does that mean? That means I have studied the both psychology of the individual and the psychology of society as a whole. Now, on to the fun stuff.
What started the Twitter conversation was this blog post:
Now the girl in me wants to immediately get offended and hurt. Many people are very judgmental about breast implants, not realizing that there is a good chance that there is a woman that they know that has implants. Now that is not what this blog post intended by any means. So please do not think that I am in any way arguing with the author. I do hope with this post to provide some education about the reasons why women get implants and how exactly society influences the decision to do so.
First we will start with some statistics about breast augmentation. These have been taken from www.loveyourlook.com from research done by a San Fransisco plastic surgeon, Dr. Donald Brown.
*As of 2011 there is an estimated 5,083,717 women with breast implants.
*In 2010 the majority of women who had breast augmentation surgery were between the ages of 35-50, with 44% of surgeries.
*Of all women who get implants, 90% do so after having a child.
So next is why women get implants. There are several reasons, ranging from medical to the psychological. The psychological reasons range from bettering body image to increasing self-confidence. Medical reasons could be breast reconstruction, repair of deformities such as Tuberous breasts/constricted breasts, Poland’s Syndrome, Pectus Excavatum or Pectus Carinatum. There are also reasons that are a combination of psychological and medical. Breast implants are often used to repair deflated breasts that result from massive weight loss, to provide additional lift and fullness to breasts deflated from breast-feeding, severe asymmetry, or ptosis from age or lack of support. Last but not least is women who get implants because they have a complete lack of breast tissue. Many times this is just considered just psychological, but it can be considered a medical need for implants.
Cosmetic reasons do account for the majority of augmentations, with 40%. Approximately 25% of women get implants to fix a pronounced breast asymmetry. Medically, 10% are conducted to repair Tuberous breasts and 10% to correct Poland’s Syndrome. For those who are wondering, Tuberous breasts appear as triangular-shaped breasts that have more sag then normal. They often have puffy or herniated aureola. Many women say they are pointy shaped breasts with no ability to form cleavage. Poland’s Syndrome is more rare in women, and results in the malformation of one breast and the pectoral muscles. Pronounced asymmetry, Tuberous Breast Deformity, and Poland’s Syndrome are all conditions in which some US insurance companies will pay for an augmentation as part of the repair. These reasons total 45% of surgeries, more than augmentations done just for cosmetic purposes. The remaining 15% of augmentations are done to restore breasts after weight loss, breast feeding, or pregnancy.
With these numbers in mind we can consider society and how it can impact a woman’s choice to have implants. The reality is that only 40% of surgeries are done for purely cosmetic reasons. Yes, restoration of breasts post weight loss or breast-feeding does involve an implant that is not a medical necessity. But these are women who are restoring what they once had, not what society thinks they should have. I’m sure many would argue that society urges these women to have youthful looking breasts and that is why they choose implants. It is obviously not a NEED by any means, a bra can drastically improve their appearance in clothing. But that is not the issue. The issue is how the woman feels in her own skin, which is determined by more factors than just society and its image of women. So could society have an impact on a woman getting implants to gain back what she lost? Sure, but chances are it is more the woman wanting back what she had before. Ask any number of women who have had children and they will tell you that pregnancy changed a particular body part, stomach or breasts being the most common. It’s not society pushing them, it’s knowing what they had prior to surgery.
So now back to that 40% who had surgery purely for cosmetic reasons. Have you noticed how the “popular” breast size changes as pop culture changes? Society’s views on breast size fluctuate depending on who the hot ticket stars are. Can this influence a woman’s size choice? Sure it can. But we are flooded with images every day of Victoria’s Secret models in badly fitted bras and Lane Bryant commercials filled with full-figured women. Two amazingly different body types. Factor in the waif model look, the muscular athletes that are currently idolized and you have two more amazingly different body types. There are so many different body types out there, and it seems like there is one that each woman can identify herself with. Society may be providing these images, but it is the individual that identifies with the image. What is it in the individual psyche that encourages a woman to identify to a certain body type? Is it nurture, how she was raised, her environment, and her peers? Is it nature, what she feels works best for the body she was born in? The debate could continue on nature vs nurture for years with valid points on each side. But the main point is, how can we identify one thing that makes a woman want implants? I do not think that we can. There are so many factors that go into the decision, not just one that can be pointed at.
Breast implants are not for everyone. But then neither is a tummy tuck, Lasic eye surgery, hair bleach, tanning, tattoos or body piercings, make up, hair extensions, waxing, high heeled shoes, or many other things an individual does to make themselves feel beautiful. But they are around because the desire is there. Just because you do not want one of these particular things does not mean that you should point out women that do. Leave the choice up to them, and support all women no matter what they choose. It is their body, their image, their choice to make.
In the comments below please feel free to share your questions about implants. If I can’t answer I’ll find a resource for you. You can also share why you had breast implant surgery or why you decided it was not for you. And because we have talked about society’s impact on choices, so please share what you think about that and how it may have had an effect on your decision. **Please remember that we are talking individual’s bodies, so keep things classy.