Breast Reconstruction and the Patriarchy

I’ve been thinking a lot about boobs lately. Obviously. Because I only have 6 weeks left with the ones that have been with me (in some form or another) since around age 10.

20+ years I’ve lived with these boobs…tatas…fun-bags…tits…breasts. And in less than two months they will be unceremoniously severed from my body, because they will likely try to kill me one day.  Then they will be replaced by some excess fat from my abdomen.

But why?

Beyond just thinking a lot about boobs lately, I’ve specifically been thinking about the “why” of breast reconstruction. Why go through more pain and face more risks during surgery? Why do I want non-functional flesh mountains sewn onto my torso? Why bother?

My answer to these questions is at once incredibly complex and idiotically simple. In short, I want my breasts reconstructed because of the patriarchy.

I want my plastic surgeon to build me new breasts because I want to feel like “me” as much as I can after this surgery. And for better or worse, I’ve grown accustomed to boobaliciousness being part of who I am.

I want to come out of my mastectomy with breasts as close to what I posses now because, frankly, I don’t want to have to buy an entirely new wardrobe or have to learn how to dress a brand new body shape.

And I want breasts, even non-functional ones, because they are interwoven with the societally dictated ideals of beauty and femininity that I have internalized (at least somewhat).

That last point is where I really start to cringe. I sort of hate myself for feeling that way. I hate it especially as a dyed in the wool feminist, proudly queer woman, and individual of a fluctuating (but always at least moderately feminine) gender expression.

I am in awe of the women with the courage to go flat after mastectomies and recognize that their confidence must far exceed mine. And I think sometimes about what it would be like to live the rest of my life without breasts, and there are certainly aspects of it that seem appealing. No more bras. No more aching shoulders when I exercise. Furthermore, I have a deep inclination towards androgyny which has been limited by body’s insistence that I remain undeniably and unmistakably feminine.

But frankly, I just don’t have the courage to do it. As much as the activist and idealist in me wants to say fuck it, and proclaim that I don’t need breasts to be me, I just can’t do it. I’m too scared. Scared that I would hate the way I look. Scared that giving up one more piece of my feminine identity (in addition to ovaries, childbearing, etc.) would send me into a tailspin of identity crisis and self-loathing. Scared that my partner’s attraction for me would wane. Scared that I don’t have the strength to walk through that world with such an obvious outward signal of this deeply internal (and fairly private) struggle. I just can’t.

So that’s it. I have a brilliant plastic surgeon and in 6 weeks he will be crafting me a new pair of breasts out of my belly fat. And it is what it is. Feminist sisters, you can go ahead and revoke my membership card now. I’m choosing boobs over the cause.

But nipples? Yeah, they can go fuck themselves. There will be no useless nipples on my new useless breasts. That’s where I draw the line.








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