(Note: If you prefer listening over reading, scroll to the bottom and listen to this post on SoundCloud. It’s nice having options, eh?!)
Yep, that’s right, my boobs are fake. Or maybe that’s not the best word to describe them. My boobs are not fake but enhanced. Yes, I like that much better. The ones I was born with are still there after all, and they are very real! 😉
Until this post, I’ve only shared with a handful of people about my breast enhancement. I remember the day in spring 2012 when I went for the consultation. I had just started laying the groundwork to bring Girls on the Run (GOTR), a program designed to inspire, empower and build confidence in young girls, to Berks County. At the time, I saw an irony in what I was doing…a deep conflict. What kind of message was I sending by getting implants??? How could I possibly reconcile the mission and message of GOTR with this desire to fix something wrong with my body? How could I even claim to talk about empowerment, confidence and loving myself when I desperately wanted to change my physical appearance? How could I call myself a feminist? Was I a hypocrite, someone who only talks the talk but doesn’t actually walk it?? I cried before, during and after my consultation. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I felt conflicted and on the edge. But somewhere above all that self-inflicted torture on that very edge on which I stood, I also felt joy, excitement and….peace.
The truth is… I despised my unenhanced breasts. It didn’t matter how much I tried to love them exactly as they were. I hated those small, saggy things trying to pass themselves off as breasts. I felt it the countless times I tried on shirts and dresses that didn’t fit me properly because my breasts were too small. I felt it every single time the person accompanying me while shopping said, “That would look great on you if only you could fill up the top!” And I felt it again when the next shirt or dress was tried on, “Oh…another one that would look great on you if only you had some boobs.” I felt it the time someone grabbed my chest with both hands and exclaimed, “Oh my god, I never realized how flat you are!!!” I felt it every day, multiple times a day when I looked in the mirror. Always there…that little voice saying…not good enough, not good enough, not good enough…every day….shame, shame, shame…
As I thought about the possibility of plastic surgery, I felt ripped in two. Torn between the cultural conditioning that trained me from birth into the unrealistic ideals of beauty our culture holds for women and my feminist thinking that told me to love myself exactly the way I am and that giving in to breast implants would make me a sell-out – a pathetic, weak, vain sell-out like those ‘other’ women. On the one hand were the images of beauty and how I didn’t fit them, how I was not and could not ever be good enough with those saggy, little breasts. On the other hand were the messages of feminism and complete self-acceptance, how it was wrong to give in to those unrealistic images of beauty, that somehow giving in would make me weak and not a ‘real’ feminist. I felt caught in the middle, damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Shamed if I do…shamed if I don’t. Shamed by my culture and shamed by feminism.
I let this self-inflicted emotional torture take me over as I made my decision. Looking back on it now, I can see that I needed that emotional torture…I needed it to set me apart from those ‘other’ women who get implants for the ‘wrong’ reasons. The few that knew about my implants would know that I was not one of THEM. If I decided to get implants, it would not be without a LOT of deep consideration and emotional torture! 🙂 I was not shallow, vain, insecure, weak or any of the other negative things that often surface in people’s minds when they hear of someone who has gotten implants. No, I would not be one of THOSE women!
But the truth is…..I am ‘those’ women. The truth is… we ALL are. The truth is…we are all pursuing various avenues throughout our lifetimes desperately trying to get to good enough from the outside in.
Plastic surgery aside, what are some of the things men or women do routinely to enhance any aspect of their appearance? What about the make-up, the endless dieting and diet products, the perfectly groomed beard or goatee, the self-tanning lotions, the hair removal, the hair color and highlights to cover the gray, the manis and pedis to make our hands and feet look just right, the hours spent in the gym achieving just the right look, the teeth-whitening, the spanx to hold us in place and cover the bumps and jiggles, the age-defying skin creams, the braces so our teeth are perfectly straight even when not needed for functional reasons.
What is underneath ALL of these efforts to enhance our appearance? How is whitening one’s teeth really any different than getting implants? Besides the superficial differences of time involved, cost, level of discomfort, and recovery time, are they really any different or is the root impetus the same? My answer is that they are the same. My answer is that enhancing our appearance in any way, no matter which way we choose to do it, helps us get to enough. It helps us get through another day in a culture obsessed with beauty and youth. My answer is that the reason we do all the seemingly minor things is no different than the reason we pursue the seemingly more extreme things like breast implants and reductions, liposuction, rhinoplasty, dental implants and veneers, or face lifts. The truth is I am you, you are me, and we are all doing the best we can to get to enough in a culture that tells us in a thousand ways each day that we are not ok as we are.
As I made my decision in 2012 to get implants, something in me rose above the internal polarization, the either/or, the damned if I do, damned if I don’t perspectives. Something in me said, “Kim, you get to be both.” You get to be both a woman deeply wounded by her cultural conditioning in need of making a physical change to her body to feel some peace in the current reality in which she lives, AND you get to be a woman who inspires and empowers others to love themselves, to embrace their unique gifts and to confidently pursue their own paths. There is NO conflict here. There is NO irony. There is NO inconsistency. You get to be BOTH!
True empowerment means throwing off the shackles of ALL dogma. It means rising above ALL the ‘shoulds.’ It means rising above OTHER people’s ideas of what is true and right. It means making the decisions that we feel and know are the best ones for us.
And this is exactly what GOTR is about for me. That was my vision, my reason for bringing GOTR to Berks County. My version of GOTR is ultimately about inspiring and empowering girls to make the choices that are best for them, the choices that serve their unique voices and their own unique paths.
When I made the decision to get implants, I threw off all the shoulds, all the have-tos, all the ‘this is the right way’ to be confident approaches. I ignored all the outside chatter and took the action that felt like the right one for me and no one else. And then I felt peace. I felt the peace that comes from integrating two seemingly conflicting perspectives into a higher truth, the peace that comes from being both. I felt the peace that is always there when I’m aligned with my soul and walking my own true path. And on a more mundane note, walking into a store and knowing that most of the dresses and shirts will look great on me feels pretty fucking awesome too! 🙂
What are some of the ways you enhance your appearance to get to enough on a daily basis? Can you see yourself in those who opt for plastic surgery to get to enough? Can you see the common ground upon which we’re all walking to get to enough? Is there a decision you’re struggling with because you feel torn between two perspectives? Can you see the possibility that both perspectives are true? Can you rise above all the internal and external chatter of well-meaning friends, gurus, and dogma and feel into what is true for you and then make your decisions from that soul-centered place?
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