You’re So Perfect…Except for Your Boobs

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By Melanie Klein

“Look! I married you a certain way! I like women who look a certain way! It’s my right to like women who look a certain way and I shouldn’t have to spend the rest of my life not being happy,” Brad exclaimed.

The retort from my friend Jasmine’s husband was a reaction to her staunch refusal to get ‘another set’ less than two months after removing the implants that nearly cost her her life.  For nearly a decade Jasmine endured numerous health complications that Western doctors claimed had nothing to do with her silicone breast implants.

Brad seemed different from her last fiance, which is why Jasmine married him. He seemed open-minded, kind, forgiving, gentle, nurturing, and accepting. When she sprouted a few stray gray hairs in her late twenties he urged her not to pluck them saying he loved her “wisdom hairs.”

Tim, her boyfriend a decade earlier, told her she was perfect and the “girl of his dreams.” Well, almost. She was the girl of his dreams except her breasts were too small and she’d be perfect if they were bigger. In fact he’d marry her if she’d consider breast enlargement surgery. Within a week Jasmine, then 18 years old in 1990, found herself under the knife. When she woke up the static and lifeless silicone orbs on her chest were much larger than what she had agreed to during the initial consultation. The consultation that came within days of her halfheartedly agreeing to consider them.

Jasmine was genetically tiny and naturally beautiful by today’s standard. Now she embodied the girl on the back of a trucker’s mudflap. Tim’s version of the perfect wife. As promised, they were quickly engaged and twenty-five-year-old Tim, the ‘hot guy’ in town, paraded her around like a trophy–until she had the courage to leave him for being emotionally abusive and controlling.

I met Jasmine a few years after her plastic surgery and we became tight friends. In numerous intimate conversations she confided in me about her implants and Tim, her body image issues, and her distrust of men. These conversations were plagued by a deep sadness and marked by intense insecurity and regret. With her striking eyes and “porn star body,” Jasmine commanded a lot of male attention, attention that she deflected and tried to avoid by dressing in ways that diminished her figure.

I was one of the only people that knew how uncomfortable this attention made her and how much she longed to have her original body back. Shortly after leaving Tim, she began looking into removing the implants. She was repeatedly told by male doctors that she would be ‘disfigured’ and that there was no sound reason to have them removed. That is until they began to break down inside her body and wreak havoc on her immune system.

By the time she began noticing her brittle hair and general dis-ease, Jasmine had developed into a smart, sharp-tongued feminist with a penchant for alternative holistic medicine and healing modalities. Eight years after the initial breast implant surgery, four years after finding her feminist voice, and two years after discovering massive amounts of hair shedding on her clothes and furniture, Jasmine fell off her mountain bike with her chest landing smack down on the handle bars.

She heard an audible tear and immediately knew one of her implants had torn. She went to her doctor and he blew her off, as did the countless doctors after that. They waved her off as an irrational, over emotional, and slightly insane woman. The following year she married Brad and within months of their wedding the symptoms of a ‘crazy’ woman began to increase.

She discovered that:

Studies have shown rupture rates to be 50% to 60% in silicone implants 10-15 years old,[24] with one study showing a failure rate of 6% per year for the first 5 years, 50% at 10 years, and 70% at 17 years.[22] Twenty-one percent of women in one study, following implant rupture, had silicone gel migration out of the fibrous capsule of scar tissue that surrounds the breast implant.[24] These studies utilized MRI, which has been shown to be 74% to 94% sensitive and 85% to 98% specific in detecting implant rupture.

Over the course of the next year:

  • Her hair had become so brittle that chunks would fall out, leaving bald spots on her scalp.
  • Her face was permanently bloated.
  • She developed large cystic acne in her lymph node areas of her armpits, neck, jawline, and the sides of her cheeks.
  • Her digestive track became paralyzed and completely shut down. She was unable to defecate for a month. It took three weeks of daily colonic treatments to remove the compacted fecal matter.
  • She also began to develop cysts, which turned into tumors around her nipples and across her breasts.

Most Western doctors declared the symptoms as unrelated and, again, chalked up her concerns to the rants of a highly paranoid and overly sensitive drama queen. Jasmine had to diagnose herself through her own research on Dow Corning’s polyurethane-coated silicone breast implants and heal herself (keep herself alive) to the best of her ability by seeking out alternative health care. Her research confirmed the source of her failing health as more and more women spoke out publicly and Dow Corning endured scrutiny for their product.

Despite her list of growing health problems, many doctors encouraged her to leave them in precisely because Dow Corning was under current pressure to remove silicone from the market. Their reasoning? Silicone implants feel better than saline implants and if she were to remove her silicone implants and replace them with saline she would look and feel less desirable.

Eventually, she found a doctor that not only agreed to remove her implants, but told her that if she didn’t have them removed she wouldn’t live to see her next birthday. After long discussions with her husband, her mother, and myself, she scheduled a removal date. I took off a week from graduate school, borrowed some money from a friend, and flew five hours to be with her.

Shortly after they were removed, Jasmine regained mental clarity, felt less scattered, her body became stronger, and she felt generally relieved. And that’s when Brad dropped the bomb on her.

“When do you think you’ll be ready to replace these with the next pair with saline implants?

At this point, Dow Corning’s silicone implants were off the market (only to be reintroduced in 2006, a decision that was deemed “sound” mere days ago). Jasmine made it clear that she had no intention of replacing them. She reminded Brad that he had been supportive of her decision to remove them and that he had taken vows to love her in sickness and in health. That’s when he retorted with his right to be with a large-breasted woman, like the one he originally married. Jasmine’s feelings of rejection and fear were confounded when they divorced a year later following Brad’s affair with a buxom hostess at work. She was mortified and depressed.

Not only did Jasmine’s marriage fail, she began to notice a shift in attention from men–attention that shifted away from herself and to women now younger than she with fuller bust lines. Despite the initial pressure into getting breast implants, her regret over getting implants and the fact that they nearly ended her life, she confided in me that there were several occasions in which she contemplated getting that next pair.

Jasmine’s story reveals many things. First and foremost, it demonstrates the incredible pressure girls and women feel to embody an unrealistic and dangerous beauty ideal. It also exposes the mental and emotional health risks and the incredible and painful risks women are willing to take in order to embody an ideal of perfection. Because in the end, as bell hooks proclaims in Communion: The Female Search for Love, being beautiful is about being loved. Girls and women understand from an early age that we’re primarily valued by the way we look and that if we can achieve this oppressive beauty ideal, we’ll be rewarded. In the words of hooks, girls and women strive to “make [themselves] over, to become someone worthy of love.”

Like more and more women, Jasmine became aware of the damaging fallout caused from pursuing a society’s singular beauty ideal. Her awareness was shaped by her personal experience as well as from her feminist consciousness, which was informed by the continued efforts of the feminist movement. But as hooks points out, awareness is not enough.

To solve the problem of body self-hatred, we have to critique sexist thinking, militantly oppose it, and simultaneously create new ways of seeing ourselves.

 

Editor’s Note: Last week the FDA stated in a report that breast implants are safe but will fail within 10 years. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

The longer a woman has silicone gel-filled breast implants, the more likely she is to experience complications. One in 5 patients who received implants for breast augmentation will need them removed within 10 years of implantation. For patients who received implants for breast reconstruction, as many as 1 in 2 will require removal 10 years after implantation. The most frequently observed complications and outcomes are capsular contracture (hardening of the area around the implant), reoperation (additional surgeries) and implant removal. Other common complications include implant rupture, wrinkling, asymmetry, scarring, pain, and infection.


Related Content:

Plastic Wrap – Turning Against Cosmetic Surgery

Hollywood Now Seeks Authenticity

Ironing Out the Wrinkles of Wanting Plastic Surgery

Sweet Revenge?

Is ‘Bo-Tax’ Unfair to Women Who Want Their Looks to Compete?

Terrifying trend: Models and mini-liposuction

Huffington Post: Former Miss Argentina Dies From Cosmetic Butt Surgery

Using Cosmetic Surgery Stop Bullying?

 

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Comments

  1. Jennifer H. says:

    Its hard to accept the fact that in society these days u have to look a certain way or have certain things such as big boobs, big butt in order to be accepted.I knew plenty of girls back in high school that mentioned once they grew up t have a god job the first thing they were going to do with their paycheck was go get a “bigger pair”. Its sad to see that women don’t love their bodies enough. To feel they have to change themselves for someone else is just ridiculous. Men shouldn’t judge a woman based on the size of her bra,jeans or her looks. Women shouldn’t feel obligated to change these things just for giving someone else the satisfaction. If a man doesn’t love you just the way you are you should feel strong enough to tell him f*** off !

  2. Richard L. says:

    I think it’s pretty horrific that Jasmine had to go through two relationships with different men that she though were “different” or “the one”, only to have them turn out to “love” her for her physical attributes. I think it’s sad how many women in society today go through these risky and potentially deadly procedures to try and impress other men. This only goes to show how demanding some men are, and how our media has shaped men’s expectations on how women should look like. This article opened my eyes to how many women really feel about themselves after they’ve had these procedures. I always thought that women who had surgery to enhance their breasts and other body parts walked in public with confidence. I am just happy to say that I will never allow my significant other to feel unimportant and not beautiful.

  3. Marissa P says:

    I work at a summer camp and some girls in my group (9-10 years old) were talking about their bodies. At first I didnt think anything of it for they were all friends and all girls, but the minute I hear “I need bigger boobs” I froze. These girls were 9-10 years old. They havent even hit puberty yet and they already want bigger boobs? WTF. Is there anything wrong with what I just heard? And what scared me even more was her friend encouraging her.

    It really really scares me to see that at such a young age girls are already finding faults with their bodies. Now include boys into the situtation, those faults turn into “Fix it for me” or “Do it for me” or ” I will always love you, but those…” Jasmine, like many other women, fall to the fate of “i love you, but”. In her case her guy wanted her to change her body for him… there should have been a huge wakeup call for her. If an “I love you” is followed by a “but” dont bother.

    The Heidi Montag symdrome is one that is on the rise. Women are literally changing their bodies, cutting and removing, making smaller, making bigger, smoothing things out to look younger, to find a man, to keep a man (and if thats the case, you need to get out now) or to compete with societies standard of beauty. “If I get this done, he will love me” “If I get rid of this, Ill look half my age” “If I get these up here and that over there, I can wear a bikini”…… but do people (mostly women) say or think “If I get this done, it may kill me” “If I get these bigger, it may affect my health”. No, they dont. And in the case of Jasmine, love pushed her to transform her body. Love shouldnt need a new set of boobs, a facelift, butt inplants, eyelid surgery, etc. And if so, dont change yourself, change who wants to be with “you”.

  4. Elyzabeth A says:

    And this is the reason why I have always disagreed and I still disagree in getting implants myself. I am proud of the size of my breast, and I can say it to everybody who asks me. So if I guy where to tell me that he will be with me, or even marry me only if I get implants the first words that I know will come out of my mouth are f*** y**. In first place, I don’t want to get marry any time soon. Second, a man has no right to tell us to get implants. Men wouldn’t like it if a girl orders him to get a bigger larger penis. That will sure be very humiliating for men. This is quite an interesting story of Jasmine. After all she went through she still fought to keep looking for that doctor that supported her in the process of getting rid of the implants that were killing her. Also, it is heart touching to see that a real friend took off a week of school and stood by Jasmines side. That’s its incredible.

  5. Jasmine is like the millions of other girls around the world changing and modifying themselves in the hope of finding their true love. But this search is difficult until one gains a sense of self-love. Self-love is acknowledging oneself and accepting how he/she looks, acts, and is. But doing this, the search for true love becomes easier. Several women are pressurized from family, boyfriends, society, media, etc that they will not be accepted unless they have a certain breast size, if their rears aren’t firm enough, if their width is too big – the list is endless. Basically all the flaws are in the women and they need to change themselves in order to be accepted by men and society. Media today highly emphasizes the importance of breasts, particularly big breasts. Thus the dramatic increase in the number of breast implant surgeries. When women begin to accept their body’s as they are, they’ll soon see their true love as well. This is not an overnight process. For the media and patriarchy has internally oppressed women for several generations, to revolt against it will take time and energy.

  6. Mary Marrone says:

    It’s sad how far women will go to please others. They are willing to risk their lives in the sake of satisfying their husbands. I will admit that I have thought of breast implants. But after taking the course of Women’s Studies 10, I am a bit more happier being me. I have become more comfortable in my own skin. I am just wondering what the man is bringing to the table, if a woman has to go as far as surgery. Is it the sex, money, house, ect. what is it? And most men bring nothing, all the while their female partner is going under for him. That is just sad. Ladies be aware of the type of man you got before making the decision to get cut up. Your decision is for life, while this relationship may be temporary. Be smart and stay strong!!

  7. Sarah Vincent says:

    This story is extremely depressing to me. Hear Jasmine didn’t like the attention she was getting after having the breast implants, then when she didn’t have them anymore she didn’t like not getting the attention. I think its sad that here she almost died from having the implants and by the end she was contimplating whether to get another pair. After knowing that all these things happening with her body were caused by these alien implants that aren’t supposed to be in your body of course your body is going to start rejecting them and causing problems. The really sad thing is that both of these men couldn’t love her for herself they had to have they breast implants. Complete red flags especially since that one guy saw how sick she was and almost died, now that is messed up. Girls just know that you don’t need implants because you were made to be a certain way and it doesn’t fit your body. Why go through SURGERY for something that is not necessary for you to live?! Don’t change your look and natural beauty because of pressure because you will regret it and bad things will occur.

  8. yessica pastor says:

    I have considered getting breast implants. The saddest part about this story was that it is not the only one of its kind. Many girls are now going under the knife to get the ideal body image. Of course this image has been getting greater and greater to achieve, this giving market to crazier surgical procedures. The standard of beauty is at an all-time high. Women in magazines look beautiful because they are covered with tons of makeup, shot by professionals and then photos hoped. All of this is done for one thing: to maximize profits. If companies raise the bar on beauty, girls are going to try their best to reach it. This effort feeds make-upend clothes corporations and plastic surgeons. Women’s value is based on their looks. This makes it obvious why they would try to alter their bodies. Women are risking their lives, their health and their bodies! Even though I know all of this and have taken a woman studies class and communications class that have made me aware and have awakened me, I still fall victim and compare myself to these images and contemplate surgery. The mass media has done an excellent job at getting girls to believe that they are only valued or they looks. Girls spend their energy on minor things like looks. This is convenient for patriarchy. Women are too busy concentrating on their bodies and image that they don’t have time or energy to compete or question misogynistic, patriarchal thinking. Before I used to say that if I got a boob job it was for me not for anybody else. Wrong! The media has made me believe that my value will go up if I trade my puny breasts for a size of breasts that will be accepted by men.

  9. Ryan F. says:

    I find this story to be heartbreaking and uplifting, but also very common in the city that I grew up. The obsessing with the perfect body is not only perpetuated by women, but by men also. There is so much pressure to maintain a ‘perfect’ body from magazines, advertisements, television, etc. However, there is a ton of pressure from your significant other and image they want you to uphold. In Palos Verdes, there is a known stereotype of a big-breasted, blonde, stay-at-home mom who is a great cook and knows how to keep it interesting in the bedroom, however behind closed doors of course. The stripper/saint paradigm definitely comes into play in this scenario. However, if you want to live in this area and be socially accepted, you must concede to the ways that are set out for you, as a woman. If you fall short in any of the categories listed above, you better call Dr. 90210 and get that crocked nose fixed, or those lopsided breasts, or that lower belly tucked. If you marry into this phenomena, you better believe that these men will do close to anything to make sure you are up to their standards. Their standards are usually your ‘fuckability’ to the neighbors and boys at the office. For example, after my aunt had her three children, her boobs were a bit saggy…DUH. After breastfeeding that many kids, you better believe they were a little uneven. So, my sleezy uncle paid for her to get breast implants at forty years old. Not to mention that perfect nose her parents bought for graduating high school. Now, she’s got the whole PV image down pat. Three beautiful children, a great rack, and a perfect nose; the transformation is complete! However, take a closer look at the actual family and you’ll see how imperfect they truly are. If you look closely, you’ll find a father who cheats with a stripper from Vegas, spends all of their money on this stripper, gets caught in Hawaii with this stripper using the vacation that him and his wife were supposed to have, but he had to ‘work’. Guess what, they are still together. All of this happened about five years ago, but my aunt refuses to give up the perfect PV images her and her husband worked so hard to maintain. Her children constantly ask me where their dad is today, and I lie. They ask why she is crying, and I lie. They ask what time he’ll be home, and I lie. I have told those children so many lies I can’t keep count. My aunt seems to be the biggest liar of all. The lessons that her kids will take away from her are the same that Jasmine’s kids would have taken away from her, if she hadn’t left. Unlike Jasmine, my aunt has not yet found the strength to believe in herself, and believe that there is someone out there that will treat her well, even if she is a divorcee with three kids a little debt. Jasmine’s message is inspiring to me because I know, on a personal level, the kind of strength it takes to walk away from someone who is hurting you. Instead of Jasmine’s husband being grateful that his wife is alive and well, he resents her for screwing up the image he wanted. Maybe one day my aunt will learn that an image won’t give you self-love and confidence, and an image does not fool your children from understanding the reason why daddy isn’t coming home tonight.

  10. Melody S. says:

    Before I used to look down on women who got breast implants blaming them for being superficial and stupid. I know realize that it really is not their fault and that the it is really the fault of the system. Over and over again girls are not looked in the eyes but in the breasts by men and by society judging them by their breast sizes. We are told over and over again that having small breasts is unattractive and that a girl with “big tits” will surely steal him away. I do not mean to be man hating but it is men’s fault. If men did not make such a big deal about having large breasts women would not be willing to go under the knife in order to get them.

  11. Anna Kleyman says:

    Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. As of now, these are the facts of life. Beauty will take you a long way, and boobs, they will take you even higher. Sadly this concept is true in our society. The plastic surgery business is a multi-million dollar a year profit pit, where more and more women each year are going under the knife. The most popular surgery is a boob job, and then follows things like nose jobs and liposuction. Women are constantly feeling the need to be and look perfect. There’s even jokes made like “lunch time lipo” for women who want to get laser lipo done in a hour during their lunch break. Whoever this man is who she married, obviously married her for her looks and not her heart. Well poor guy, because looks only attract but personality keeps, so looks will fade on any woman, and he can’t keep upgrading every year one celebrates their birthday. Men have become pigs and they are the ones encouraging women to become plastic. Women only get the idea to look perfect from men being obsessed with boobs and butts and this creates a need for women to feel they must be a life size doll. There is more to life, and in this case, health than risking your own life to have a big rack. What if we women, told men they need to get penis enlargements or we won’t find them attractive. What if the media portrayed that so much, that it became the new “it” thing, how would they feel? I’m sure not good…Well that’s what they are saying to us, that we are not good enough at a “B” cup for them. Personally, I think fake breasts are gross. Who wants to hug a rock anyway? That’s how they feel, like a couple of bricks on your chest! Men are way too sex driven and perfect body obsessed. They need to mentally grow up and realize what is important in life. A woman,a wife, is there to be your partner for life, the mother of your child, not your life size doll!

  12. Talia Y says:

    This post truly spoke out to me and made me antagonistic towards breast implants. I did not realize how harmful breast implants are, not only for your health but also psychologically and emotionally harmful. Whether or not one approves of cosmetic surgery they sadly still tend to consider it because of the way our society values beauty. As seen in this case, although Jasmine suffered emotionally (because of her boyfriend) and health-wise she still considered getting a second pair. The pressure put on females to look beautiful, be desirable, and feel desirable is ridiculously influential and makes women consider dangerous procedures just to fulfill the criteria of being (for example) “sexy,” or “wanted.” This article is eye-opening and focuses on the idea that girls and women are extremely pressured by society, the media, males, etc. to embody the “perfect look.” The media suggests that females will only be loved if they are beautiful. Most movies, tv shows, chick flicks etc. focus on a women searching for her soul mate, and trying hard to please a man. Because of this, there is a lot of pressure on real women. These real women take on drastic measures to become beautiful so that they can please a man. I honestly feel bad for Jasmine, but I don’t blame her for the insecurities that encouraged her to get breast augmentations.

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  8. […] worried about young people who want or get plastic surgery. For example, according to some studies, silicone breast implants have a 50-60% chance of rupturing after 15 years. That means that if […]