I am truly grateful for the body positivity movement. It’s so important for younger generations of girls to grow up in a world where they feel confident and aren’t held back because of unrealistic standards set for women. This movement is a reminder to embrace our bodies, but I’m here to remind everyone that sometimes we just don’t.
An important aspect of body positivity is making your own choices for your body, even when others don’t agree. Women’s bodies are constantly policed, even for the most mundane things. We consistently hear people say they like us better without makeup, that they prefer our natural hair color, the list goes on. My experience with this phenomenon occurred when I decided to undergo breast reduction surgery at age 20, after years of pain and emotional suffering.
Growing up is hard. This is not groundbreaking news. Puberty is awkward, our bodies change faster than we can comprehend, and we’re left to deal with the new attention, both bad and good. At least that’s what happened to me. My breasts grew seemingly overnight in grade 9, forever altering my psyche and my self-esteem. This article isn’t a self-indulgent tale about a girl with big boobs, but a lesson in choosing to do what I want for my body, and how that choice empowered me.
I’m not here to disparage a boy’s journey into manhood, I know that’s hard too. Or anyone’s personal journey into adulthood. But I’m here to speak for all girls who are forced to accept the unwanted status of a sexual being once they develop, especially when you develop almost comically fast the way I did. And no, people weren’t lining up to date me, but I couldn’t enter a room without stares and muffled laughs, which was not an ideal experience for an already awkward teenager.
I want to talk about elective surgery at a young age for a few reasons. Maybe it’ll act as a simple reminder to shut the hell up about other people’s bodies. But more important, I feel the need to send out a reminder that even though self-love and body positivity are incredibly important, there are exceptions, and it’s okay to make even drastic changes to your body.
For years I struggled with a body that provided me with constant pain and discomfort. When I focus on the physical aspects of my situation, surgery seemed like a no-brainer, but it was the societal aspect that really opened my eyes to this weird world we live in.
Breasts are the most sexualized part of the female body, this is a fact I dealt with on a daily basis. So, when I finally decided to reduce their size I had the pleasure of engaging in a weird, overtly sexist conversation with almost every male acquaintance in my life at the time. Notice I didn’t say male friend, but every acquaintance who felt personally entitled to be offended by my choice for my body. As if I was taking something from them. How could I remove this precious, sexual, feminine part of me? Easily, my dude!
A small part of me fears that the insecure 20-year-old I was then could have opted out of the surgery. After all, I was also conditioned by society to place my value in my DD cups. Luckily, I went through with it and it truly was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m more comfortable in clothes, my back pain has disappeared, and I just feel better about myself.
I’d like to remind every male acquaintance who scoffed upon learning that I, and many other women willingly decrease their breast size (and therefore femininity) but instead of yelling at you, I’d like you to educate yourself on body autonomy, women’s rights, and the ability of just not saying anything at all.
To everyone else in the world, don’t forget that choices for your body are yours to make. They allow you to express your individuality and be comfortable in your body which will in turn unlock that body positivity thing we keep hearing about.