Today's guest blog post is from author, beauty expert, and journalist, Grace Gold.
Since I'm open about the breast augmentation I've had, I field a lot of questions from the curious. And after "What is the recovery like?" and "How much does it cost?" the most common concern is how other people will react if they find out you've actually gone under the knife and had one.
I have to tell you the surprising truth, which is often the case for all kinds of cosmetic surgery. If you're one of the majority of patients who undergo a moderate change (say, an increase of one or two cup sizes with breast augmentation), it's very likely no one will even notice! Or if people detect a subtle change, they will likely ask if you lost weight or changed your hairstyle instead.
But like many women, I was super anxious about keeping my own experience a secret for fear of being judged as superficial, unintelligent and inauthentic by others. This is the unfortunate light in which many cosmetic surgery patients are still seen today, even though the reality is far from the perception. The first few times I ventured out post-surgery, I felt like I was under a bright theater spotlight. I imagined the boob job must be visible to everyone - from the postman to my coworkers - immediately! Yet no one, not even my childhood best friend of 20+ years, noticed.
I had gone from a B cup to a 32D, but my previously padded Victoria's Secret flotation device-like bras must have been so convincing, that people couldn't detect a change. After diligently wearing those uncomfortable push-up bras for years through high school and college, I had grown tired of simply creating the illusion of an ample bosom. At the age of 25, I decided to finally take the leap and get the breast augmentation I had long considered. Now several years later, I couldn't be happier with my decision.
Since most people think I'm completely "natural" unless I tell them my story, I haven't been treated differently before and after my breast augmentation. But if you undergo a more dramatic change, your experience may be very different. Feeling anxious about how other people - and particularly women - will react is a legitimate concern. It's hardwired within us to instinctively feel competitive feelings towards one another, whether we want to or not. No where is that more obvious than when it comes to our physical bodies and an erogenous zone like the breasts, since mate attraction is often set off first by visual attraction.
Large breasts can be seen as an evolutionary advantage, and if they're implants that you weren't born with "naturally", it can make them seem like an unfair edge you're not supposed to have in the mating game. Certainly other cosmetic enhancements like hair color and makeup seem like they fall in the same category, yet don't elicit the same outrage as cosmetic surgery - I think because they're not "permanent."
So when you increase the size of your breasts, don't be surprised if ugly feelings suddenly emerge from other people. It can be jealousy or anger showing up in various forms, and usually has a lot to do with the relationship other women have with their own bodies. The best way to handle it is to think about whether you want to be open or closed about your breast augmentation beforehand.
If you're open about what you had done and are happy to tell anyone, first of all a big high-five to your confidence and honesty! Not all of us are brave enough to take on the stigma associated with cosmetic surgery - which harkens back to the belief that undergoing surgery for purely aesthetic purposes is frivolous and incongruent with intelligence, plus somehow inferior to the "real" thing.
Prepare yourself if family or friends don't have anything positive to offer in return. While my own family was initially surprised and dismissive of my decision, they ultimately became supportive after they realized this was going to be something I did, whatever they thought. I've talked to many women who have had family and friends react negatively, or even venomously, and never come around. If pushback from others is going to get you down, you may want to rethink your approach ahead of time.
If you're like most women who would rather keep it under wraps, practice what you're going to say beforehand if someone catches you off-guard with a question or a comment. Some people truly have no hesitation in blurting out, "Are they real?" - a question that no seems inane to me since the implants are a permanent part of my body, made with similar sheathing and prosthetics like hip and knee replacements and pacemakers are made with. Would you ever ask someone if their knees are real, or even someone who is wearing a wig if their hear is real?
For whatever reason, cosmetic surgery can cause people to pass a line of rudeness that they otherwise wouldn't. One of my friends has a clever and double-meaning retort on hand if anyone asks if her "girls" are real - 'Its Victoria's Secret!" that of course could mean it's the work of one of those magical push-up bras or only Victoria knows - and no one has inquired further when she has used it with a smile.
If you work in a conservative environment or are in an industry where breast implants would overwhelmingly bring negative judgement at your professional or personal expense you should take that into consideration when making your size decision. For example, I was recently contacted by a reader who runs a Sunday school and is the wife of a pastor - she wants to look ample, but not so shockingly and suddenly large that the congregation starts whispering! Aiming for a moderate increase in these types of situations can mean the ability to dress up and have fun with or conceal and downplay your breasts as needed.
Of course, in the perfect world we should all be able to do whatever the hell we want to with our breasts - they're ours, after all! But until that world arrives, breast implants require some cautious consideration in order to truly enjoy them for all they can be worth. While I don't think that you should live according to what others think of you, the very real stigma around breast implants will remain until we collectively find the comfort level to talk more about them the way we do cosmetic dental work or hair color now - which were both more hush-hush just a couple decades ago.
As cosmetic surgery continues to become more accessible with better pricing and options, and as people live longer and these options become appealing to more people, I think the intense present-day judgement of breast augmentation will eventually fade. And hopefully that will follow an overall trend of respecting the decisions we women decide to make over our own bodies.
Grace Gold is a beauty journalist and the author of The Boob Job Bible: How To Get A Safe, Sexy Breast Augmentation. Grace has covered beauty and wellness for broadcast outlets like the Today show and New York Live, magazines including People and Redbook, and digital sites like Elle, DoctorOz, YouBeauty, Style.com and more. Her mission is to help women look and feel their best, without making them feel like crap in the process. She doesn’t think everyone should aspire to one glossy standard, but instead believes in beauty as a world of possibility for everyone. To connect with Grace, please visit GraceGold.com.