Judgements Bigger Than My Tits

Susie Newton

 

A few years ago, when I was eighteen years old and still living in my small hometown, I found myself sitting in the waiting room of a new doctor’s surgery that had opened opposite the local vet. I was there because the sign outside said ‘cosmetic surgeon’. They didn’t bulk bill like my regular doctor, so I would have to pay $88 for this consultation. A woman wearing what I could only assume was a Camilla dress swanned out and called my name, and I sheepishly followed her. We sat down in her pristine office and I noticed a huge mug on her desk that said ‘but first, coffee’. Tacky.

 

After pleasantries about the cold weather, she asked what I was doing there. I told her I wanted to enquire about breast reduction surgery.

 

‘Oh, but you’re so young! And they’re not even that big!’

 

I was taken aback at her personal opinions on my discomfort. I tried to remain calm and collected with my responses, remembering that she couldn’t know how much courage it had taken me to come here. I quickly realised that the ‘cosmetic surgeon’ sign out the front meant things like lip injections and botox, and I was asking this woman about the hardcore stuff.

 

Around the same time she said to me, ‘You should think about it some more darling, besides, boys love big boobs,’ I felt the lump in my throat rise higher and decided it was time to end this awful exchange. With my spirits more than dampened I paid my $88 and walked to my car, where I sat and cried for fifteen minutes.

 

The concept of plastic surgery carries a lot of stigma. In an era that prides itself on self-love and body positivity, the idea of changing an aspect of your physical self is often met with judgement from those preaching the mantra. In 2017 there was an 11% increase in the number of people having breast reduction surgery in America. It has one of the highest satisfaction rates of all the available cosmetic procedures, providing both aesthetic and functional benefits for people who undergo the surgery.  

 

In the years leading up to my ten minute visit to the ‘cosmetic surgeon’ I traditionally labelled people — women especially — who underwent cosmetic surgery as shallow and fake. It’s embarrassing to remember this arrogance I once paraded, considering I went under the knife only six months ago. I struggled with the concept of being a ‘bad feminist’ by wanting to change something about my body.  I hated that I hated my boobs. I wanted to celebrate my unique body, love it the way my partner did. But I just couldn’t, because every day when I left the house it nagged at the back of my mind. It took another three years after the Camilla lady stomped on my courage, but I found a surgeon in Sydney where I had since moved, and booked a date.

 

I told this sob story for years leading up to my surgery, so when the date was booked all I wanted to do was tell anyone that would listen that I’d soon have nice and small, in proportion boobies. Something I was not prepared for were the reactions I copped. They ranged from support to complete insensitivity, and after spending so long coming to terms with the fact that my decision was my decision, it came as a shock.

 

Some of the worst ones were:

But I have big boobs and I love them!

What! I would love to have your boobs, you can’t do that!

 

And just a lot of:

Nooooooo why!?

 

I wondered what these people thought I would do after hearing of their dismay. Did they expect me to turn around and change my mind because they wished they had my boobs? How could I be so selfish and make this decision when there were people who didn’t completely agree with it? It was interesting that people were so brazen with telling me how they felt about my decision, without considering how awful it made me feel.

 

The Camilla woman’s comment ‘boys love big boobs’ is another issue altogether. If I’m honest, this statement made me even more determined to undergo the surgery. I wanted to stick it to her, let her know that this wasn’t even on my radar of reasons not to have a breast reduction. If only she knew that her ignorance did nothing more than add fuel to the fire. Her comment brings to light another reason people tend to be judgemental about others’ cosmetic surgery choices: because of their concerns about how the world perceives them. I’d hazard a guess that most people who undergo a procedure are doing it for no one but themselves, and it’s upsetting that society so easily assumes otherwise. It was especially upsetting when I was asked ‘What does your boyfriend think?’ leading up to my surgery. Believe it or not, he supported my decision because it made me happy.

 

In the end I realised that the reactions I got were rooted in a culture of misunderstanding. Cosmetic surgery is often seen as a cop-out, a solution to a problem that should be cured with a bit more self-love. It would be excellent if we could get to a point where someone’s personal decision would in fact be personal. It’s not the same as telling someone how you feel about the shoes they’re wearing or the way they’ve worn their hair that day. Deciding to undergo cosmetic surgery will often come with a lot of thought, and should only ever be met with support. And if you have opinions, keep them to yourself. Nothing will come of them if you parade them around like a bigot.

 

Now I’m six months post-op, and have a completely different position on cosmetic surgery. It was the greatest decision I ever made, and not just for comfort and better self-perception. I am so proud that I made the decision and went through with it despite the negativity and societal pressures to ‘just love my body’. Because the truth was, I didn’t love my body, and I’d tried to for so long. But now I do, and it’s because I was lucky enough to have the capacity to change it. That’s what I wanted people to celebrate with me: I had worked hard for something I desperately wanted.

 

These days I can’t preach it enough; I’ve already given my plastic surgeon more business after referring another top-heavy friend of mine. And I won’t ever forget the greatest perk of this whole process — being able to buy cheap bikinis that actually fit!