Is It OK to Admit that I Want a Boob Job?
While I’m the first to celebrate women’s bodies in all their many forms, I feel guilty about not fully embracing my own postpartum body in all its new forms.
Something remarkable happened to me just after having my second baby. For the first time in my life, I actually embraced (even loved) my body just the way it was.
I was three months postpartum, and I had all the usual battle scars of bringing life into this world—stretch marks on my thighs, a squishy pockmarked belly, and breasts full of milk that swelled and fluctuated somewhere between and Baywatch, and “there’s nothing to watch,” depending on the time of day.
Yet, at the time, I felt fine—confident, even. To demonstrate my body pride, I even ventured out on on several occasions in an unforgiving purple ribbed bodysuit with high-waisted jeans, proudly flaunting every little curve and bulge it accentuated.
In some shocking twist of perspective, I felt more comfortable in my own bod—in its most imperfect form—than ever before. It’s like I realized a new kind of sexy. A mom bod kind of sexy that showed I was in this particular stage of life, raising two children and feeding one. And the sense of purpose and self acceptance that gave me felt powerful. But it didn’t last.
I didn’t believe anyone when they told me my breasts would be completely destroyed.
I’m now over a year postpartum. I officially stopped breastfeeding my youngest daughter when she was just shy of her first birthday. I got my period back, shed a few residual pounds I was holding onto during breastfeeding, and actually look more like myself before pregnancy—with one exception. My breast are completely and irreversibly destroyed.
I must admit, I was not prepared for this. My brother, a plastic surgery resident in training, asked me after breastfeeding my first daughter if I had noticed a change in my breasts, and if I cared. I told him that they were slightly droopier than before, but nothing to distress over. I somehow managed to avoid any distinct stretch marks and they were (somewhat disappointingly) as large as they were before.
Actually, because they were in such decent shape, I thought maybe I was immune to so many of the horrible changes I had heard about. I thought maybe women were exaggerating how bad boob could be after kids, and found myself judging them for not simply accepting their new body as it was. Only a couple of friends had warned me about what could happen should I choose to have another and breastfeed again. “Just wait until after the second,” one friend ominously said, shaking her head.
She was right. While society, the media and everyone else is quick to point out the many benefits of breastfeeding your babies, no one truly warns you—or even wants to talk about—how badly breastfeeding can wreak havoc on your breasts.
What was even more shocking for me was how much I actually cared about what they looked like, and how much it has affected my self confidence.
I’ve experienced various, varying periods of acceptance, appreciation and wanting more.
As for my overall body image, I’ve gone through fluctuating periods of acceptance and feeling self conscious. While I’ve always been petite and never struggled to manage my weight too much, like most women I know, I’ve found things to criticize about myself.
Since my teen years, I’ve been critical of my broad shoulders, narrow hips, flat butt and short torso. As for my breasts, I alway saw them as somewhat cumbersome. I felt like I was too busty for my petite frame.
Before babies, I never really had to worry about cellulite, saggy skin, jiggly thighs, or the rising and falling tide of my milk-filled breasts. But those changes were all due to growing a baby, which I could accept and take pride in.
Currently, there’s a great movement on Instagram and other social channels to talk about just that and celebrate all types of postpartum bodies. Women are posing with stretch marks across their bellies and breasts proudly proclaiming, “I earned my stripes.” Many are posting some pretty raw selfies depicting the “beauty of bringing life into this world,” and crying out for a call to action around acceptance and love. It’s a truly amazing conversation about rallying around the beauty mothers create rather than morning the standard of beauty lost.
In theory, I’m completely onboard with the movement and its message. I am so happy to support and celebrate my fellow mothers in embracing their new mom bod.
I too, can join in on that conversation. I am accepting—even appreciative—of many of my postpartum body attributes. My hips, for one, are wider and feel more womanly. I don’t so much mind some stretch marks on and around my derrière. And in clothes, I like that my smaller bra size now matches my smaller frame.
However. However! My breasts on their own are so sad they make me want to cry anytime I actually get a good look at them or must feel them as I tuck ‘em into my bra.
Saggy, empty and sad—I just don’t know how I can accept these things.
Descriptors I’ve heard from friends that I can relate to include breasts that look like “deflated water balloons,” and feel like “tube socks only partially filled with sand.”
The only way I can imagine ever feeling good about my breasts again is actually doing something about them. Because the condition my breasts are in, no amount of pushups will help. A boob job, if you will, seems like the only viable option.
I know I’m not alone. Anyone who has breastfed more than one baby might understand why breast lifts or augmentations are on the rise. In the past 10 years the number of breast lift procedures have risen by 75 percent, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. But it’s no small surgery, nor is it in any way affordable. It’s also not something I hear many (if any) women in my social circles talking about openly. The only person who’s even encouraging of such a move is my brother, and that’s only because it’s his future line of work.
I never expected to feel so strongly about my breasts. As I mentioned, they were large and seemed to get in the way of my active lifestyle. But, full and round, I think they also gave me a sense of womanly pride that I never truly appreciated until now.
Perhaps the reason the changes in my breast are affecting me so much now is that I’m recognizing (even if just internally) their symbolism around femininity and desirability—both of which I felt the opposite of after having two babies.
Is it okay to embrace this postpartum body and want to change it?
There’s something absolutely empowering about embracing a post-baby body. It’s like you’re telling the world that you’ve done something remarkable, and this is what you have to show for it. It’s kind of perfect in its imperfect ways. It has its own look.
Thinking of it this way has helped me appreciate my body more because I no longer care about what other people think of it. I am this way for a reason—a really good reason. Like becoming a mother, learning to love your post-baby body takes patience—only it’s patience with yourself.
I want to celebrate this new body I am in. I want my daughters to see what a normal body looks like and what a confident woman looks like in it. But right now I’m struggling to feel confident with this one aspect of my body that suddenly seems so much more important than ever before.
I don’t know that I will actually take the plunge and go under the knife to get back what I’m missing. Maybe I just want to know if it’s okay to feel this way.
I love what I’ve created and—even knowing what I now know—I wouldn’t go back in time and choose to not nurse both my girls as long as I did.
But I want to feel empowered in making a decision to change the way my breasts look like now and the way they make me feel without feeling like I’m doing a disservice to all women striving to accept changes after motherhood.
The way I see it, I’m not just a mother and my body is not just a vessel that needs to show all I’ve accomplished by having two kids. I am still a woman with a lot of my life to live. And I want to feel sexy, dammit. Is that so wrong?
Renee Frojo is a San Francisco-based writer, content creator, and mother of two.