Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Boobs don’t matter except when they do

I don’t know who Heidi Montag is. I don’t know why I know her name. I don’t know why I know or should know or even should care about whether she’s having another boob job. They’re her boobs, right?

Not knowing anything about her, though, I kind of suspect she might have a bit of a problem. She’s had what? 80 surgeries? And each one gets her more publicity… and each one gets performed by a surgeon. And while I pay very little attention to the whole thing, I have noticed that the public’s reaction is “ZOMG So gross!”

I can’t help but feel like women are damned either way. If you’re not perfect, you’re fair game. And if you have surgery to become perfect, you’re fake… and therefore fair game. And no one says much about the tactics surgeons use to keep their patients coming back. You go in to get your lips plumped and the doc points out that your boobs are saggy and uneven, your thighs are too big and your eyebrows are too low… and those crows feet make you look 10 years older. But he’s just trying to help you. No pressure.

It’s not that we’re all victims of Big Plastic, but is it really so awful that a woman goes in and changes something she doesn’t like about herself?

Is a boob job a bigger deal than changing any other thing about you? What do you think about plastic surgery? Do you think less of people who get it?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Fair points, but you’re forgetting one thing.

    If she wanted it kept quiet, it would be kept quiet. There is only publicity about her boob jobs because she is making it public.

    Her doctor, by law, isn’t allowed to tell anyone.

    She knows the responses she gets when she makes it public knowledge. In fact, the responses are the very reason she does so – I very much suspect it’s motivated by money.

  2. Personally, I prefer no plastic surgery in a woman. But then my idea of perfection has nothing to do with the mainstream idea. I also prefer women with little to no makeup or perfume. I’m a natural kinda guy. To me the “flaws” only add character. I’m a big fan of freckles. :) I’ve never had occasion to actually feel what fake breasts feel like, but I imagine that they’re not as soft and pillowy as unmodified ones, features I like. But if somebody wants to modify her body, go for it, just don’t expect me to be impressed.

  3. I don’t remotely think less of a person for getting plastic surgery. You’ve got one life to live and one body to work with, so you might as well manage both in the way that makes you happy if you’re not harming anyone else in the process. I was blessed with a C cup, which I understand is the size preferred by women who get breast augmentation, so don’t feel that I have any grounds on which to criticize women who were under- or over-blessed and decided to change things for themselves. Aesthetics are a different matter– personally, I’d rather have small breasts than implants, but that’s simply a subjective preference.

    If somebody handed me $8,000 earmarked for the purpose of body modification though, and I’d lose it if I didn’t use it for that purpose…..I’d use it. Or at least most of it.

  4. I once had a small mole removed from a breast. Nothing gross – it had just changed during pregnancy so caused some worry, and since it was so small, it was smarter to just remove it rather than biopsy.

    But it completely freaked me out when it was gone! I was shocked by how sad I felt about changing so intimate a thing. Maybe that’s weird, but even though I was already fairly sure I would never want plastic surgery, that sealed the deal.

    Now that I’m nearly twenty years older, my steadfastness has eased up some; I’m thinking tucking in and pulling up a thing or two might be nice, but not worth it in the grand scheme of things.

  5. Plastic surgery is a personal choice. I don’t hate on people who choose to do it, however for myself and for people in my life who like to hear my opinion, i would say no to it.
    There could be instances when plastic surgery is ok, but changing “b’s” to “d’s” is not money well spent in my book.

  6. It’s her body. If she feels happier with larger breasts, smaller breasts, extensive tattoos, body piercings, neck rings, lip discs or even horns then that’s up to her.

    Whether or not you’re happy with the results is likely to depend on why you did it. If it was because it makes you feel better about yourself then you won’t care if people then tell you that you look stupid. If you did it to try and be fashionable though then you could be setting yourself up for disappointment.

  7. In the specific case of Heidi Montag, I am pretty sure she has a problem and probably a manifested form of addiction. But the thing I always come back to with celebrities is that, while it is a horrible side of human nature that pushes the paparazzi to degrade these people, they are asking for it by deriving a living off the public sphere. They have insinuated themselves into our collective conscious and become extremely wealthy off our entertainment. I’m not saying it is right, but it’s not like it isn’t expected.

    If women choose, of their own volition (tautological?), to modify their bodies, they should feel free to do so and damn anyone who thinks differently. But I think it is presumptuous to expect societal acceptance. Just like implanting plastic horns onto your head there is a certain temperature for acceptance in populations and if you choose to transgress those guidelines you have to be prepared for the consequences.

    I think a boob job is a pretty small deal compared to the possibilities of transhumanism and other modification techniques available today and on the horizon. I think it is a great test case for what is to come. Just like the previous generation condemns the culture of the next, what will generation Y turn their nose up at: splicing animal dna into your own, further gender exploration and modification, or the shedding of our flesh bodies for mechanical ones. We’ve been modifying our bodies since we created tools and we’ll continue to do so.

    I think if you find yourself being judgemental of someone who went under the knife for their own reasons it reveals that you may have had an improper idea of who that person actually was. If you fail to resolve that dissonance did you ever really know that person in the first place?

  8. A friend of mine had serious emotional issues about her nose. She thought it was too big. So she got it fixed, and guess what, now she’s feeling a lot better about herself. It’s your body, you only live once, so you should make the most of it in whatever way you please.

    We should also acknowledge that beauty has a huge influence on how we are treated by life. Beautiful people generally have it easier in life. In a way, plastic surgery is a great equalizer. It’s the democratization of prettiness. So basically, if you’re naturally beautiful, you have no right to complain about people who improve their own looks.

  9. A woman can do whatever she wants to do, vis a vis cosmetic surgery. It’s hard to condemn or celebrate surgery, in the general sense, as each individual choice and operation is kind of different.

    Are boob jobs a “bigger” (ha!) deal than other kinds of surgery? Well, that depends. They’re often more noticeable and likely to draw comments than, say, a wrinkle being subtly filled in. That’s why they end up being polarizing — it’s hard not to notice, and noticing will result in an opinion being formed.

    Now, all of that being said, I don’t think I’m a particularly big fan of cosmetic surgery. But I don’t have to be, as no one is forcing me to either undergo surgeries or to be with people who do. I tend to feel badly about the social pressures that might (emphasis on MIGHT) be the reason a woman chooses to have surgery, but one can’t assume that those pressures are the ONLY reason to make that choice. It’s not my place to project my own fears onto someone else’s decision.

    While my own preferences would be for a woman who believes, as I do, that perfection is unattainable and that our flaws make us who we are, I can’t speak for anyone else. And anyway, one has to draw the line about looking “natural” somewhere: makeup, hair spray, nutrition, spa treatments, even going to the GYM for cryin’ out loud… none of THOSE things are “natural.” We all make SOME adjustments and we all have to draw our own lines.

    BUT, regarding someone like Heidi Montag — the excessive nature of her surgeries (and the risks to which she exposes herself each time she undergoes some elective procedure) kind of make it easy to feel contempt or, if the better angels win, concern for her. I mean, at some point one has to wonder about her psychological state. There’s a million justifiable reasons to have a thing or two done (to improve your confidence, to eliminate a scar, to slightly stave off aging, to correct a defect or reconstruct after an injury) but this girl is 23 years old!

    She is NOT “aging,” she was not deformed or injured, and I don’t think she was objectively “unattractive” before… it’s hard to find a good reason for a 23 year old to have had a dozen surgeries, and it’s hard not to feel bad about what it means for her mind and for the people she keeps around her. The best you can say is she’s got more money than sense, but I’m BROKE and I fear I STILL have more money than she has sense :-P

  10. I have an ass-load of tattoos and so I’m obviously cool with body modification. The only time I see it as a real problem is when you are making changes to try to please someone other than yourself or you are attempting to reach some sort of perfection or ideal body type. Artistic expression with the human body as your canvas is one thing and can be empowering but perfection of form can never be attained and the search for it will leave you empty and ultimately unhappy.

  11. If it makes you happy to modify your body, then by all means, do so. However, like anything major, you should probably be really certain you want that change, since plastic surgery is generally pretty expensive, and somewhat permanent. Also, don’t turn into that cat woman.

  12. @BeardofPants: I couldn’t disagree more. People get more and more attractive the less they look like people. I think an ideal planet would be one where all people have had so much plastic surgery that there were no people at all.

  13. @BeardofPants: I was going to make a comment, then I saw that you said exactly what I was going to say. (And that bifurcated tongue stuff is just creepy.)

  14. All things in moderation. Some people seem to have good sense about plastic surgery, while others develop unhealthy obsessions where despite having nearly perfect bodies (millions of men drooling), all they see is imperfection (e.g. body dysmorphic disorder). That is unfortunate.

    I could use love handle reduction. While I am at it, I think I will have that basket ball that is lodged in abdomen removed. It’s fairly well hidden if I stand up straight, but the minute I slouch I look like the pregnant man :-)

  15. I have wanted a breast reduction since I was about 14. But it’s way too expensive, and is only 1/4 covered by insurance. If you are a customer for at least three years and have paid for a specialist to agree it’s for medical benefit. The recovery, follow up visits etc are not even partially covered . Breast augmentation is cheaper, which really grinds my gears. But I guess that competition drives down the prices.

    I probably wouldn’t get any other plastic surgery. I could probably use liposuction but I’d rather just pay for a personal trainer if I had that kind of money. That’s just me though. I wouldn’t judge someone else who wanted it. As long as people are consenting adults, they can do whatever they want to themselves.

  16. Some people (and I think Montag is a good example) become addicted to plastic surgery because of underlying psychological problems that no amount of surgery will fix. Board-certified clinicians are supposed to screen for such problems. When you visit a plastic surgeon for the first time, you’re supposed to fill out a questionnaire that is used to evaluate you for body dysmorphia and other psychiatric disorders.

    Of course, not every doc is going to be stringent in her evaluations and refusals, and some people are smart enough to lie and beat the test.

  17. I think this is just another part of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” standard of female beauty. If you don’t conform to the standard, you’re unattractive, weird, or sometimes even disgusting. But any effort you make to conform to the standard (by putting on makeup, shopping for shoes, or getting a boob job) is considered a shallow, vain, trivial waste of time.

    In the case of this woman and her boob job, it sounds like she’s put so much effort into conforming to the standard that she has gone beyond what is expected and is now stuck in the unattractive/weird/gross category. The girl just can’t win.

    I think it doesn’t matter what I think about plastic surgery itself. If a person wants it, that’s their business. But the whole culture that drives people to want to make these huge changes in their appearance is pretty damaging.

  18. @rob2uk:

    Yes, if she wanted it quiet it would be. I think part of the problem is the attention she gets from getting more work done… it obviously keeps her in the spotlight since it’s the only thing I know about her. Really. I know her name. I know her face. I know she’ll be waiting for me next week at the grocery store check out. But I don’t know why she’s being thrust upon me. All I know is that she’s had a lot of work done.

    But should women have to decide between keeping it private and being subject to ridicule?

    And… FUCK! SHE’S 23! How about not feeding the attention-starved monster in her head? And how about someone maybe helping this girl? Why is the world feasting on her disorder? Why is this doctor/these doctors still ethically allowed to do more work on her?

  19. i basically agree with what most of you are saying: each of us is in charge of our own body, and should do what we want to it; but that there is a tension between what makes a person happy because they want it and what a person thinks will make them happy because society tells them to. of course, this is something that can be speculated upon endlessly, and nobody can really know the motivation for someone else’s choices; not even the owner of said body.

    personally, heidi montag makes me sad, because to me, the pop culture beauty standard she’s aspiring to is just flat out boring. i find incredible beauty in human diversity, and i think it’s sad how homogenized hollywood is.

    would i ever have plastic surgery? i don’t know. i have already modified my body: a large amount of my skin surface is covered in tattoos, and i have a number of piercings. i think i might consider “repair work” as i age; not necessarily to erase aging; i think we need to change society’s attitude toward “older” women’s beauty. but i do have this little subtle bump appearing on my nose that i might have to have taken off if it becomes any more noticeable. my nose is already prominent; i don’t need to have a witch wart on the end of it :p

    but yeah, while i might have opinions and ideas about how i feel about plastic surgery, it’s ultimately up to the individual to decide what’s right for them, and it doesn’t matter what i, or anyone else, think. i’d just hope that is the attitude the surgery subject holds as well.

  20. See, I might have a bit of an unorthodox perspective on this one. As one of the transpeople here on Skepchick I have to say that body modification to me is 10,000% pure awesome. Born-women do have a horrible double-standard with surgery, but MTF transpeople get all that plus a few more stigma just because more hate is more fun (sweet Minchin, I really don’t want to sound more-oppressed-than-thou so if that’s how this comes off, sorry! As well, if any transmen are here, I honestly am not as familiar with your situation so I don’t know what sort of stigma there are for you.)

    My biggest problem with the stigma on body modification is that it makes being a transwoman even more difficult. Because *most* cosmetic body modification is elective, a lot of transgender therapy gets lumped in there: hormone replacement, hair removal, and sex reassignment surgery among others. And of course, health insurance doesn’t cover elective surgery. But you know what? It damn well is not elective! It’s about as elective as a diabetic’s insulin. This excuse has been used by health insurance companies as an excuse to not cover ten cents of transition costs. And for those of you who don’t know, if you’ve had the misfortune to go through puberty, transition is the financial equivalent of buying a house. In midtown Manhattan.

    That’s my (very rambling) perspective. I don’t care about this sensationalized bullshit of “oh, she’s getting BIGGER BOOBS! How outrageous!” She wants a boob job, good for her (although as some people before me have said, there may be a psychiatric problem with this one). What bothers me is that sometimes body modification is medically necessary. Because the knee-jerk reaction is very much negative, insurance companies use that as an excuse to not give a penny to transgender people. That’s what’s sick and disgusting to me.

  21. I would have surgery if I felt that I needed it. As Billy Clyde Tuggle said, “all things in moderation”. If I didn’t like the way my stomach looked, I wouldn’t feel badly about myself for wanting to have it corrected. If I had super-saggy boobs and didn’t want them to look that way, I would fix them.

    But it’s a personal thing. I would never espouse my opinion of perfection on anyone else, and who’s to say what perfect is anyway? Someone like Heidi Montag, in my opinion, looks scarier and scarier the more they modify. But she thinks she’s getting better. At that point, as long as she’s not spending my money to have it done, it doesn’t bother me.

    I don’t have a single tattoo, but there is one that I plan to get eventually. Modifying my body with a picture, to me, is no better or worse than modifying it with a more taut tummy or perkier boobs.

  22. Yes, boob jobs are different. Yes, I think less of women who do it – that is, healthy women just trying “expand” their influence.

    As a sometimes artist I find it baffling. The female breast a delicate thing that does not weather brutish tinkering very well. I can’t see how people can be so indifferent to this. And the smaller the breast the more ridiculous the result. Deformed and scarred. At best…FAKE. Marketing. Manipulation. I think the people impressed by this are not the people you want to impress.

    Turn off your damn televisions and detach from the all pervading high-school culture.

  23. Personally, I’m with vbalbert: cosmetic surgery (if I know about it), died hair, tatoos, piercings (including ears) and makeup are all to a greater or lesser extent turn-offs for me, nor would I ever wear a toupee. (Hey, wow I spelt that correctly!)

    Its fine for people to do this stuff, I don’t mind these things in friends, but their not what I want in a girlfriend.

    For actual disfigurements it would be different.

  24. @tiberious:

    You really think women gain influence by getting boob jobs? And that body image issues go away after high school?

    That’s… more baffling to me than why I know who Heidi Montag is.

  25. I was of the opinion that natural is better, but then @ beardofpants swayed me with “don’t turn into cat woman”. Now my thinking is: Two boobs = Awesome, therefore Six boobs = Ultra Mega Awesome!!!

  26. It is totally up to the person as to what they do with there body. Friends have lifted their faces and I now always notice they are different and that I prefer the uncut original. My wife asked about doing something with friends and I said ok if you want to but I prefer waking up with the women I’ve loved for 50 years versus having to get acquainted with someone new.

  27. People have been modifying the bodies their DNA gave them since time immemorial, across all continents and virtually all cultures. To describe it as unnatural requires a mighty peculiar definition of natural.

    Personally, I don’t see imperfections, I see individuality. I do not see the wart on the end of your nose as a flaw, and if you have it removed, I won’t see the wartless nose as any more or less perfect.

    Do what you like. I know 4 women who had plastic breast surgery – 3 reductions and 1 enhancement. (Probably know others, but they haven’t talked about it). None of them regret the choice they made. That’s all that matters to me.

  28. I personally am pretty happy with my little breasts thay will probably not start sagging until I’m 60. However since I do love piercings, tattoos, carsetting, and other body modifications I have no judgments about a woman who chooses to have her breasts englarged or reduced. We change so much about our bodies already, hair cut, hair color, clothes, weight, etc. plastic surgery is no different.

  29. @Elyse: I think – though I get my info from The Soup – that her husband is the real Ego monster, egging her on and separating her from her family, who may be trying to help her out. He’s feeding her insecurities so they can sustain their 15+ minutes.

    As is all things there are extremes. Octo-mom anyone? I think having some changes made is fine, but just like wearing to much makeup makes you look like a clown, so does choosing ginormous boobs.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a transgendered person in real life. Isn’t that more like repair work than truly elective surgery? You’re born with a bad heart – you get it fixed. You’re born the wrong gender – you get it fixed. So I guess if you’re born with an obnoxious nose or have more wrinkles than a shar-pei you should be able to get that fixed too.

    Personally, I’d like to get some of my tummy and thighs reduced but it’s really beyond my current financial ability. Not real fond of my arm flop and maybe get my boobs lifted a bit, too. But probably not and I’ll make do.

  30. @Aoshia:

    As one of the transpeople here on Skepchick I have to say that body modification to me is 10,000% pure awesome.

    An excellent point, sometimes our flaws define us, but sometimes they inhibit our true nature.

  31. 1. No.

    2. It’s false genetic advertising, and any woman who’s had work done should be legally required to disclose any such work to me in the event I offer her the privilege of having my children.

    3. Yes, but I usually think less of people, so it’s not necessarily a big deal.

  32. My wife and I have a friend who’s had a few face lifts. We don’t think less of her because of them. As others have mentioned, it’s really not different from using makeup. I guess that in the old days, there used to be more scarring from the surgery, and that could detract from the aesthetics, but I understand that’s less of an issue now.

  33. I think it’s a sad commentary on our culture. The size of the breasts is more important than the functionality. Breast augmentation often reduces or eliminates feeling in the nipples, and it usually makes breast feeding impossible. Why take away all the fun of breasts, just to change the size? I wish all women could love their boobs the way they are.

  34. I agree with lexicakes, this kind of ‘horrified-look-at-the-freak’ coverage comes from the same media sources that also tell us we’re too fat, too thin, not pretty enough, blah blah blah. Buying into is a circular journey into body image hell.

    That said, I have no issue with cosmetic surgery if the reasons behind it are personal – are you doing it for YOU? There are celebrity examples of women admitting to plastic surgery to boost their confidence and as THEIR choice – Dita Von Teese had her breasts enlarged so she’d fit better into the lingerie she was modelling – but not so enlarged she looked unusual, and I saw an interview with Cher where she said ‘If I want to have my breasts removed and sewn onto my back, that’s nobody’s business but mine’. It is all about a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body – so long as she’s doing it for herself. I don’t believe Ms Montag is having the surgery done for her own approval, but for the perceived approval of everyone else – ‘look what I did to make myself more beautiful and appealing, do you like it, do you, do you?’.

    I personally would never go under the knife, but that’s because my aversion to pain and vast expense outweigh my issues with my body image. But I dye my hair and have done for over 21 years – becoming a red head at 17 changed my life. People’s reaction to my hair (which has always been a variation on fire engine red) gave me more confidence than I’d ever experienced – they thought I must be confident to dye my hair so brightly, treated me as such and so I became it. I changed what I was born with and I’m a happier person for it. I’m not sure it’s the same for folks like Heidi Montag.

  35. @Samantha: What if breastfeeding and/or motherhood aren’t in the woman’s future? It’s becoming more and more common for women to decide they don’t want to have children – whether it’s because they choose to be enveloped in their career or because they just don’t like kids. At that point there is no biological functionality to breasts. Would it be okay then? If not, why?

  36. I didn’t say it wasn’t okay, just that it was sad. In our culture, size is what matters. We go to restaurants to get huge portions of food that are neither healthy, nor good tasting. What’s the point?

    Feeding babies is not the only function breasts serve. For many women and their partners, nipple stimulation is an enjoyable part of sex. Breast augmentation risks reducing or eliminating the feeling. It’s a risk some are willing to take, but I don’t understand why.

  37. Heidi’s had 10 or 11 surgeries already. She’s unlikely to stop there. I can see her eventually going the way of Cat-Lady or Michael Jackson, or, FSM forbid, Joan Rivers. It’s her personality, though, that makes her unattractive. IMO, of course.

    As for “making it public,” it’s hard to keep her breast augmentation a secret when her boobs are suddenly larger than her head.

    Myself, I prefer natural, no matter the size. Most of the “improved” ones I’ve seen look like they’ve been bought at Wal-Mart and strapped on. Then again, they’re not *my* boobs, but I gotta wonder how someone like Maxie Mounds drives a car, or even ties her shoes?

  38. Late to the party here – I wouldn’t look down on a woman for having plastic surgery, and though I’ve never had any I’ve got piercings and a tattoo etc. Of course you have the right to modify your body.

    BUT surgery that requires anesthetic carries non-trivial risk of death and other complications. This is OK if it’s necessary surgery, not so OK if it’s not. I don’t think the question should be, “Is it OK for Heidi Montag to have a zillion surgeries?” but “Why the fuck are people who are supposed to be healers cutting up perfectly healthy people and putting them at risk for MRSA and all the other nasty shit that can happen to you during/after surgery?”

    I mean, IANA doctor or a medical ethicist, but WTF?

  39. I forgot to say, for the guys who said, “I prefer natural boobs anyway!” that’s not really all that helpful. I mean, good for you and all that, and I’m sure your intentions are good, but…the answer to “I hate my body so much/my body is so unacceptable in my society that I need to have major surgery to correct it!” isn’t one guy saying, “It’s OK, I totally like small boobs”. Personally I think the answer is more like “The acceptability/unacceptability of women’s bodies isn’t a subject for popular debate”, but that’s just me.

  40. I had a breast reduction many years ago, I am also, due to constant pain, trying to find a way to have my insurance pay for a double mastectomy. I’m 40. I don’t have kids and am not going to. They’re my breasts and I’ll cut ’em off if I feel like it. And let me tell you… I totally feel like it. There are days that if I had a sharp knife and some pain killers….
    That’s just me though and I know people have lots of very strong opinions but I figure if this Heidi person wants to mod herself into oblivion, whatev – if that’s what you want to look like.

  41. I want a breast reduction badly. My insurance will only cover it if I go down to an A, because that way they know it’s not “cosmetic”.
    How sad is that? It’s pathetic when our messed up societal values are institutionalized in making some breasts worth less than others.

    I just want to be able to run or jump without having to clutch my chest. It would also be nice to spill something and have it land on my feet for a change.

  42. Three years ago in October I had a boob job and lift. It nearly killed me. I lost both my breasts to necrosis and have had to endure being badly disfigured. Last year in April I had breast reconstruction . Tomorrow morning I am having nipple reconstruction. It has taken me nearly three years to get my life back. In 2-3 months I’ll still have to have surgical tattooing on the areolae so they’re a pretty rosy color.
    For the last 2+ years I have been writing If you want to know what bad plastic surgery can do and what sort of devastation can occur with a bad surgeon who is not board certified as a plastic surgeon, read my blog. Start with the earliest entry in the archives.
    Boob jobs are not an easy fix. Lots of very bad things can happen and implants don’t last forever.
    With all that said, I may have some flaws but with everything I have been through, I will NEVER have plastic surgery again unless it is medically required. I’ve learned to be happy with who I am. Yeah I’m overweight, my arms are floppy and I could use an eye lift but I’ll be damned if I EVER expose myself to those risks again after tomorrow’s surgery.
    As for people who think less of others who DO chose plastic surgery, they can go fuck themselves. Up the ass. With a Mack truck.

  43. @Samantha: It also can caught constant unpleasant feeling. The Biophysicist did a photo shoot for a model who’d had her boobs done [and yes, it got her more jobs], but she said her nipples have that pins-and-needles feeling all the time. Economically, she’s happy, personally, she isn’t.

  44. I’ve also got piercings and tattoos. The Biophysicist and I eschewed more conventional forms of showing our commitment – wedding rings and the like – and have complementary tattoos instead. That said, I think there’s a difference between decoration that does not require anaesthesia and hospitalisation and that which does. As was mentioned above, these days, any time one enters a hospital, there’s substantial danger. I went in for a minor outpatient procedure, had a 104° fever within 36 hours and ended up spending 11 days attached to an IV pumping Vancomycin into me [in a luxury suite, tho’, which was quite lovely; I figure the hospital was terrified I’d sue.]

    Would I take that risk for something to merely make me appear more conventionally attractive? Not on your [or my] life. Do I think someone who has a dozen cosmetic surgeries by age 23 for no particular reason beyond that has psychological issues? Yes.

  45. While I get the appeal of a set of major-league crumbcatchers, I am concerned that Montag et al are warping the desires of a fragile generation. Plastic surgery is fine if you are older and need some adjustments. Time is evil and a good surgeon can reverse its effects.

    The problem is that women in their 20’s are doing it– and they are in droves. I work on a college campus and I see late teens-20 year olds with the bad lip job or plastic milk jugs. I see it because they hoist it up, minimally cover it, and put it out for everyone to see– not that I’m creepy. You can’t not notice.

    Many in this demographic want a different nose, new chin or modified winnebagos. This adjustment changes the underlying structure of the face, meaning that normal aging takes an unusual path. It guarantees that they will need continued surgeries their entire life, which are expensive and inherently with risk.

    Montag is in need of psychological assistance to quell her dysmorphia. Unfortunately she is establishing a norm for young women already plagued with body image issues.

  46. My sister and two cousins have had boob reduction surgeries when they were in their early 40’s. These were normal sized women, and in my sister’s case petite and fit, that had had enough of the bazoomsige mother nature gave them. Sometimes ears that are pinned back can make a big difference in public perception and confidence in the same manner getting teeth issues sorted out can.

    And I like my wife’s boobs best, just saying.

  47. @Elyse:
    Regarding influence, I really don’t know. Tits have a lot of power and I would be the last to underestimate them.

    Are you suggesting women enlarge their breasts simply to feel better about their reflection in the mirror? I would be VERY skeptical of that one.

  48. @tiberious:

    If there is one thing I can assure you of, it’s that women do not achieve more success, power, or influence by having larger breasts. It is a convenient accusation to hurl at a woman who is both successful and well endowed, though. It’s pretty much the same thing as accusing women of sleeping their way to the top.

    Some people call that “misogyny”. For you, I’ll call it naivety.

    And yes, I am saying that women enlarge their breasts to feel better about themselves. To feel less self-conscious. To feel more attractive. They do it for the same reasons women and men both have face lifts and liposuction and botox and tummy tucks and nose jobs.

  49. Jeez. I encourage women to be comfortable with their bodies and that makes my a misogynist?

    As to naivety… I have seen 12 year old girls on the side of the road in shorts and tight clothes trying to get pickup trucks to drive up teleophone poles. They are discovering something about themselves.

    I know a woman who works for a mega life insurance company and when recent layoffs grew alarmingly she was assured from above that “people like her don’t get laid off”. (She’s both compentent and beautiful).

    I’ve worked blue collar jobs where the conversation is pretty much tits and pussy dawn to dusk. White collar is much more subtle but sex plays a big part in it.

    You say you want to “feel more attractive” …presumably attractive to others. Well, that is a power. The very attractive have many more choices in life. It is a form of manipulation. That is what the 12 year old is discovering; that is what permiates our society.

    There is only one way to win the game. Don’t play it. Be yourself.

    The sexiest woman I ever “knew” had three children and plenty of sags. God damn.

  50. @tiberious:

    I didn’t call you a misogynist. I said I was giving you the benefit of the doubt and that it was naive to think that women actually have much to gain by getting larger boobs. Hell, here at Skepchick, it’s become a running joke that we’re ruining skepticism with our boobs… but sadly, it’s something we’re actually accused of doing.

    Women are forced to balance the right amount of sex appeal with the right amount of competence. If a woman looks too good, she’s assumed to have used her looks to get to whatever level of success she’s at (and it doesn’t have to be much, it just has to put her above pretty much anyone). If she’s too competent but not attractive enough then she’s a bitch and a bully.

    It’s the whole premise for this discussion. Women are supposed to be attractive. Naturally. But we have to put in some effort. Exactly the right amount of effort. And we can’t miss the mark while putting in that exact right amount of effort. And that amount of effort is variable. Too much effort and we’re trying too hard to be something we’re not. Too little and we’ve “let ourselves go”. The right amount is fine, as long as we meet an acceptable standard by putting in that right amount. If we don’t, then we didn’t try hard enough. If we put in extra effort, and still miss, then we’re wasting our time and we’re a lost cause.

    By your definition of “power”, anything a woman ever does to make herself feel better about any part of her in hopes that she may be more likable is a powerplay. I think that’s unfair.

  51. Funny thing about being told to be yourself is that other people always seem to know what this is better than you do.


  52. I feel I lose a bit of respect for the person, its like by having surgery you are sayingI dont respect myself, I’m not happy with how I look, you earn respect in this world by your actions and by doing this your reinforcing the fact that you dont respect yourself, therefore its hard for me to have that respect for you.The word for today is respect by the way, sorry I cant think of a substitute word. But I ‘m compromised a bit as I always feel its best to do in life what truely makes you happy, this is top priority, as long as your not hurting others in the process, so I gain respect for people who do this, I dont know, this is doing my head in!!!@@$%#

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