Big Boobs. Men want to stare at them (amongst other things), and women want to have them. Restaurant chains have been built because of them. But as someone who has had them most of her adult life, I’m here to tell you that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. Yes, that’s right, there are actually disadvantages to having big breasts, both physical and emotional. So, this is the story of my very large breasts and my decision to have breast reduction surgery.
Macromastia: It’s an Actual Medical Problem
The medical diagnosis is macromastia: It simply means oversized breasts. At a 36DDD, my breasts were oversized for my 5’4” frame, and it had been that way for most of my adult life. For most of my twenties, I told myself I was (and stuffed myself into) a 36C, not wanting to admit that I was most likely much larger than that. By the time I hit my thirties, there was simply no way to deny that I had hit DDD territory, and not because I had gained weight. My breasts have always had a life of their own when it comes to weight: They do not respond to any weight loss I might experience. However, as I’ve gotten older, they have responded to gravity, and that has only made the physical effects of big breasts that much worse.
The Physical Disadvantages of Large Breasts
So what, exactly, are the physical disadvantages, you might wonder. Let me spell them out for you. It starts with the constant neck and shoulder strain: My neck and shoulders were constantly tight, and that tightness affected the rest of my back, causing giant knots in my lower back. My surgeon took out almost 2.5 pounds of excessive breast tissue, so consider tying something around your neck that weighs 2.5 pounds or more and carrying it around all day, every day, without ever being able to take it off.
I have deep, visible grooves in my shoulders from bra straps that have spent a lifetime struggling to hold up my very large breasts. And no, it wasn’t from wearing the wrong size. At a certain size, it simply doesn’t matter. A bra can only do so much.
Then there’s the bad posture. My shoulders curve inward and always have, because the weight of my breasts was pulling them forward. I tried to stand up straight, but my shoulders could not stay straight under the strain, and when you already have large, protruding breasts, pulling your shoulders back makes them protrude even more. Which brings me to the psychological effects of breasts that are too darn big.
The Emotional Disadvantages of Big Breasts
I don’t really remember when they came in, but it was during junior high school, so probably around twelve, which is a fairly normal age. I’ve always been introverted, and certainly at the very tender age of twelve, I was quite shy. So imagine my shame when some of the boys in my class started reaching out and grabbing my breasts in the hallways. I was twelve and embarrassed and didn’t tell a soul, but someone else did, because later those boys accused me of telling on them. At the time, I was mortified – I would never. But now, with the distance of age, I’d like to thank that person. He or she did the right thing. What made twelve year old boys think it was their right to start grabbing? Maybe we should ask the current president (I had to say it).
Then there are the stares: Some men attempt to be subtle about it, and others simply don’t give a shit. They didn’t talk to me, they talked to the boobs. It’s not flattering, and it doesn’t make a woman feel good about herself, especially one who has never been particularly happy to have them anyway. But what was I supposed to do? Cover them up? For me, anything other than a turtleneck revealed my cleavage (don’t even get me started on button down shirts, that’s a whole other issue). I used to worry that cleavage was inappropriate, especially in a workplace setting, but then I finally decided, why should I feel shame for something that is entirely natural (yes, mine were the real thing). Unfortunately, that didn't necessarily make life any easier.
Believe it or not, bra shopping for us large chested ladies is difficult and depressing. It really wasn’t until the last fifteen or so years that stores like Victoria’s Secret even carried bras above a D cup (which is part of the reason I was stuffing myself in C cups for a while). In larger department stores, you can find larger sizes, but they're usually the ones I like to call Mom Bras: they might be the right size and they're certainly functional, but there's nothing sexy about them. Thankfully, the Internet has changed that landscape, and it's finally possible to find a decent bra above a D.
But, oh, the joys of swimsuit shopping when you have big breasts. Again, not so long ago, you could never buy the top bikini separately from the bottoms, and swimsuits were never sold in cup sizes. I remember so clearly the day (long ago) I went into a department store and could not find a single swimsuit that fit me because I needed a much larger top than a bottom. I separated them anyway and tried to buy it without the saleswoman noticing, but imagine my embarrassment when she loudly stated, ”You have two separate sizes here, you can’t do that!” I turned a deep shade of red and walked out of the store empty-handed.
I’m sure there are more stories and frustrations I could tell you, but you’re probably wondering what is the point of this big boob story, so let’s talk about the current political climate and why I think my breast reduction surgery story is important for people to hear.
Why Get Breast Reduction Surgery Now?
If it isn’t totally obvious by now, I was tired of the physical pain and the emotional strain. I’d been thinking about breast reduction surgery for a couple of years, but I’m not one that goes under the knife easily. And then the election happened and our right to healthcare, especially women’s healthcare, came under attack.
You see, my insurance is covering the majority of my surgery because oversized breasts are considered a medical diagnosis, because there are physical disadvantages to having them. But I also know that there’s a very real possibility that, if the Republicans' healthcare plan goes through, my boobs could soon become a pre-existing condition and, therefore, a surgery would not be covered by most insurance companies. Not only was the time right for me personally, but the time also became right politically. I wanted to get my surgery in before the axe fell.
It’s My Body, My Choice
A week after my surgery, I’m sore and I’m swollen and I’m tired, but I finally, finally feel like I have a body that has the right proportions. I lost 2.5 pounds of breast tissue, but I feel like I lost fifteen pounds because my boobs don’t take up my entire torso anymore. My shoulders are slowly settling into a straighter position, and I can finally stand upright without a strain on my neck. I feel like my center of gravity has changed because I’m not constantly being pulled forward. Like I said, I’m sore and I’m swollen and I’m tired, but I feel amazing.
So, why am I telling you this rather personal story? Because this surgery is a perfect example of My Body, My Choice. It’s not just about abortion, like so many want to make it out to be, it’s about a woman’s WHOLE body and about her WHOLE health. It’s about being able to take control of your own healthcare and improve your life. If the healthcare reform passes, other women won’t be able to make the choice I did to improve their health, not just in terms of breast health, but in so many different ways. And that’s simply not right.
My story may not be one of life and death, but it is still about my health as a woman and how one surgery, thankfully covered by insurance, can greatly improve a woman's life.
And I think everyone should have a right to a similar story.