Plastic surgery is a complex issue in my opinion. On the one hand, I think individual control over your body is important and vital to control over your life in general. On the other, plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes (a.k.a. elective surgery that you choose to undergo for aesthetic reasons) often appears to be motivated externally by society or pressure from peers/family/loved ones. So, for example changing your body because your partner makes you feel bad about your body is not empowering or really expressing control over your body. It’s an expression of the social pressure women feel to conform to a certain body type. I have a HUGE problem with that.
Body modification can be a very empowering act – ask any 21-year-old with a new tattoo – but it can also have big ramifications for your health, body satisfaction, self image and how others relate to you. The complex consequences from plastic surgery are what make me especially worried about young people who want or get plastic surgery. For example, according to some studies, silicone breast implants have a 50-60% chance of rupturing after 15 years. That means that if someone gets the implants at 20, by 35 they’re not holding up so well. In fact, they could break inside you. Of course this isn’t always the case, but it is a legitimate health danger that is often not seriously considered by girls who want bigger breasts. Check out this horror story for a little more real life experience.
So, why to girls and women want bigger breasts? It’s a complicated question and I would be wrong to simply say that a woman can’t want it for herself. I would argue however that much more frequently, the desire for bigger breasts has more to do with others than a separate inner need: wanting others to find you attractive, hoping to please (potential) partners and be seen as beautiful/sexy/feminine, or even attract attention. Large, perky breasts are part of the “right” body that is popularly seen as beautiful and the allure of achieving the “right” body is powerful for many people (men and women). For some, having the right body means achieving acceptance, love, attention, sensuality, desirability, popularity, control and/or perfection. Almost everyone is interested in a few of these ideas. However, the notion that you need to create a new body to get these things is completely untrue. Society can brainwash us into thinking that there are diets or beauty routines or surgeries that can get us love or perfection or make us feel comfortable in our skin, but it’s simply not true. There’s no pills or procedures for self-esteem, confidence or happiness.