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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Teenagers and breast implants

Alternet has an article on the rising number of teenage girls who are given the gift of knowing that their bodies aren't good enough, I mean, breast implants for graduation. The jump is pretty alarming.

Last year, 3,841 women 18 or younger underwent breast augmentation, a 24-percent jump from 3,095 in 2002, which represents a 19-percent increase from 2,596 in 2001, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Only 978 girls had the procedure in 1992. (Women between 19 and 34 account for a large segment of those getting implants; 114,005 last year.)

The logic is somewhat similar to the logic behind putting braces on as soon as someone's adult teeth all come in--start them by 12 and by prom the braces are off and they can actually get a date. In this case, the logic is that if a girl doesn't have giant ta-tas at 18, she better get them before losing what little chance she had of ever getting laid in college or something like that.

"If I go to college, then no one's going to know my boobs were small," said the Grapevine High School senior who endures teasing in suburban Dallas. "It would be a lot more evident if I did it in the middle of the school year."

If getting teased about something means that something is wrong with the teasee and not with the teaser, which must be true if the teasee is the one who must be sliced up to fix the "problem", then we definitely have an unwieldy problem on our hands. In my high school, girls were teased for being flat-chested. And also for having large breasts. Or having them earlier than other girls. Or having them later than other girls. Or for having hips. Or for not having hips. I have little doubt that if a girl had actually gone and gotten breast implants, that would have been cause to tease her. Of course, I was reminded fairly often that I should start saving my money to get breast implants myself. (At the time, I couldn't figure out why in the world people would think that I would even want breast implants. Ah, innocence.)
If one was female, there was no way to avoid teasing. Either you were too much or too little. One can only conclude that the problem is being female in and of itself. Again, while that is a "problem" that is curable with surgery, I'm not entirely sure that's something that we wish to embrace as a society.
Call me crazy, but maybe if students at a high school tease a girl for having a body of whatever unacceptably female shape, then the hammer needs to come down on the teasers. A solid, Cheney-style "Go fuck yourself" is not only the appropriate response to a self-appointed judge of female figures, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper and less painful than surgery. And if young women are having problems articulating this sentiment, I will teach them how to say it for $5 and in the space of afternoon. Again, cheaper, faster, and easier than surgery.
I am incredibly glad that getting breast implants while still in high school was unheard of when I was that age. So much changes between that age and your mid-20's. I myself went up a cup size and down any desire to push them up and out, if you will. A number of women my age I know have cheerfully abandoned the push-up, padded bras we felt were so necessary in our adolescence when we were still under the high school-imposed impression that getting a guy's attention was a herculean task. Of course, one can't just throw out a pair of breast implants like one can that padded bra that seems more than faintly ridiculous after you grow up a little.

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7/07/2004

 
Blogger Cat Walker said...

Really! I lamented having small breasts in high school and quietly envied my sister's larger chest. Four years later in college, I shed my bookish skin to join the rowing team. I winced in sympathy for well-endowed teammates who had to hook themselves into uncomfortable straps and support systems so they could run without killing themselves, while we average and flat-chested folk could just wear cotton jog bras. At middle age I'm thrilled to have a small fairly youthful chest rather than a more matronly bosum. Try being happy with what you've got before you resort to knives to carve off or add on.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just reading a book about foot-binding in China. It's interesting: it started off as a kinda weird fetish from some forgotten prince, then it became a kind of universal fashion among upper-class women, then it spread its way down the social hierarchy, until it was almost universal (odd as it seems, even peasant women were getting their feet bound). Almost all Chinese men, apparently, attached great sexual attraction to small feet. Mothers were among the biggest pushers of getting their daughters' feet bound -- how would they make a good marraige otherwise?

Breast implants aren't as bad as foot-binding, of course (maybe somewhere... oh... halfway between circumcision and foot-binding?). Nonetheless, it's a fashion that could turn into a custom. What if mothers insist on getting their daughters implanted, and men start to universally (more than now, at least) judge a woman's worth by her breast size? Perhaps no need to panic yet, but it's a disturbing possibility.

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