Trigger warning: This article contains many references to body image, weight and body modification, as well as (censored) images of my boobies. If this makes you uncomfortable or brings up negative emotions for you, please don’t torture yourself by reading any further!
I got myself an early Christmas present this year: breast augmentation. I went from a 32B to a 32D (maybe a 32DD once they drop) in the span of an hour, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it is some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I am absolutely delighted with the results.
This has been a big year for me. I got a divorce. I got a book deal. I was single, I dated, I got into a relationship. I’ve been actively reclaiming myself, my life, my body, and my sexuality. It has been miraculous, challenging and overwhelming. It has also been the best year of my life.
Since overcoming my eating disorder ten years ago, my love and appreciation for my body has only grown. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say that I think my body is beautiful. I don’t just write about radical self love, I live it. I take good care of myself: I eat nutritious food (with joy and no sense of deprivation), I exercise, I barely drink, I don’t smoke. 95% of the time, I feel awesome when I leave the house, and I’m totally comfortable in my skin. I never hated my B cups, and in fact, I never really thought about their size until this summer.
The tipping point was when I decided to stop eating sugar. I was truly addicted to it, and would eat at least one chocolate bar a day. I had read with horror the research that says eating sugar slows collagen production, which means you lose elasticity in your skin and you’ll see the effects of aging faster. My relationship with sugar was deep and psychologically complex: I noticed that when I felt unhappy, I’d go for something sweet, and it would make me feel good for about 20 seconds before I was right back where I started. Quitting sugar made me realise how much I used sugar to stop me from feeling things I didn’t want to feel. Without sugar as a crutch, I was forced to actually feel my feelings, which has been a major growth experience for me. In addition to having more energy, feeling happier and less moody, I lost about ten pounds over the course of a few months. As someone with low body fat anyway — it wavers around 11% — a whole lot of it came out of my boobs, which didn’t have much to give in the first place!
I wasn’t embarrassed about how I looked, but I thought I could look better. I have broad shoulders and I thought a bump up in the boob department might make me look more well-proportioned. Unlike everything else on my body that I have been able to improve via good eating and working out, breasts are — unfortunately — the only thing you can’t enlarge through diet or exercise.
So, this summer I started thinking about getting a boob job. I did a bunch of research on RealSelf — which is like Yelp for cosmetic surgery — and fairly impulsively, made an appointment to see a surgeon for a consultation.
My surgeon was unbelievably nice and the consultation blew me away. I stood in front of a machine where six cameras took simultaneous photos of my chest and torso, and then, on a screen, my doctor showed me what I’d look like with different sized and shaped implants. It was incredible and the results looked really realistic. I was so impressed! It was shocking but wonderful to see what implants would look like on my frame, because even though I’d thought about it a lot, it was very hard for me to visualise what it would actually look like. The consultation removed all doubt.
You can’t go into a surgeon and say “I’d like to be a D cup”, but you can make an approximation. Implants are based on cubic centimetres, and every 150cc will bump you up about one cup size. I took some boobspiration photos with me (!!!), and based on those, my surgeon showed me a bunch of options.
That’s how I looked at the time on the left, as compared with a 320cc round implant, viewed from the front. I thought it looked amazing, but I couldn’t really tell how much bigger it would look in, say, clothing.
When I first saw this, my eyes almost burst out of my head! This looks SO much bigger. This is the same size implant as the one above — 320cc — but viewed from the side it looks much larger, and gives you more context.
This is a 370cc implant, but this time, it’s a teardrop shape. Clearly it’s bigger than the 320cc, but even though the shape of the teardrop versus the round is subtle, the fullness in the bottom of the teardrop implant sticks out from my torso way too much.
Hooooooooooly shit! Again, the front view alone does NOT give you the full story! Here’s another view of the 370cc implant, except this time, you’re getting my view of me looking straight down at them.
This is a 380cc round implant. It’s the same shape as the first image, just bigger. I loved how these looked on my frame, and thought it was pretty much perfect.
These are the only photos I took from the consult, but we went through lots of different options. We discussed the pros and cons of saline vs silicone, as well as low, medium and high profile (essentially how much the implant “sticks out” at the top of the breast). Even though teardrop implants can look more natural, since they’re fuller at the bottom, they didn’t work on my frame. My doctor told me that I’d be constantly hitting them with my arm and it would drive me crazy. He also told me that the most common complaint he got from patients afterwards was that they wished they’d gone bigger.
With all of this in mind, I walked 50 blocks to brunch with three of my best friends, thinking intently the whole way. By the time I had reached Cafe Mogador, I had basically made up my mind that I was going to get it done. A few weeks later, I spoke to one of my astrologer friends about a good date for surgery (haha!), then called the office and booked in for November the 17th. Auspiciously, that date also happened to be RuPaul’s birthday. I thought this was an excellent sign!
My surgery was booked for 8am on a Tuesday. I woke up early that morning, and used an antibacterial cleanser all over my body. I was even instructed to use it to clean out my belly-button with a Q-tip. I wasn’t allowed to wear deodorant, moisturiser, or any make-up. I had been told to wear something that buttoned in the front, so I headed uptown in a car in a green flannel shirt that I’d steamed the wrinkles out of the night before (hello, Virgo), black sweatpants and my blanket coat.
I was amazed to find that I wasn’t nervous or anxious at all about getting the procedure. I showed up to the surgeon’s office early, signed some forms, changed into a paper gown and a robe and sat on an examination chair, messaging my friends on my phone. As the clock edged ever closer to my surgery time, I felt little flutters of nerves — I remember letting out about 3 big deep breaths — but beyond that, the abject fear I was anticipating never surfaced.
My surgeon appeared and we made light conversation while he marked up my breasts. Soon, my nurse came in and invited me into the neighbouring room. It was chilly. Dr Shafer asked me, “What kind of music do you like?”, and when I said, “Hip-hop,” Usher’s Yeah! quickly filled the room!
I climbed onto the table and lay down. My nurse pointed a little heater at me underneath the blanket and covered me up. My anesthesiologist asked what I did for a living, and then we discussed his daughter’s Masters in Poetry and how writers have to hustle if they want to make it work. He told me he was going to give me some Propofol, inserted the IV which hurt for about half a millisecond, and then said, “Soon you’re going to feel a warm sensation up your arm. Now, just so you know, you might have vivid dreams. Maybe you’ll dream about your next book!” I laughed and said, “That’s an awesome intention to set.”
The next thing I remember was my anesthesiologist saying, “Hello. Move over here onto this bed.” I wriggled onto the bed beside me with the help of the nurse and I suppose they wheeled me into the next room, but I don’t recall that. I opened my eyes at some point and my nurse offered me water and Saltines, and told me to rest for an hour. I kind of wanted to sleep but I wasn’t really tired, and I didn’t feel groggy at all (Propofol is the truth!), so I asked for my phone and started texting people.
My nurse asked me where I was at on a pain scale of 1-10, and I said 3.5. She asked if I wanted to take the OxyContin or if I just wanted Tylenol Extra Strength, and I opted for the Tylenol. I wasn’t in much pain at all. Mostly, my chest felt tight and a little achy, but nothing terribly dramatic.
After an hour of observation, my boyfriend arrived to take me home. He made me soup and then fed it to me, which made me laugh so hard. After about an hour, I decided to take some OxyContin. I didn’t really want it — and I didn’t want to be all loopy or out of it — but my nurse had stressed the importance of taking it before I felt pain, and that ache was starting to come back. We split the pill in half and I took it, and then an hour later I took the rest. It didn’t make me feel nuts at all, it just alleviated the pain and made me feel a bit sleepy, which was a relief.
I had moved my projector into the bedroom the night before so I was ready for epic laziness! My boyfriend lifted me into position in bed because I couldn’t really use my arms to maneuver around. They say you’ll need someone to look after you for 24 hours after your surgery, and it’s true. Your movement is pretty limited. We watched Bill Burr stand-up, then Iris, then I Love You, Man, and fell asleep around 11.30pm.
AFTERCARE AND RECOVERY
The day after my surgery I took it easy. My boyfriend and I meditated together before he went to work, and I mostly stayed in bed. I took some Valium as a muscle relaxant just to take the edge off, and dozed on and off all day, with a few breaks to walk around my house and keep my circulation up. I ate well, drank plenty of fluids, watched some movies, and just relaxed in general.
The next day, Thursday, I was back to normal life. I was on Periscope at 12.30pm, went for a walk, and was — for all intents and purposes — on track again. Every day, my chest became less tight and I had more range of motion. (Two weeks after surgery, I was able to do body weight exercise, and I returned to my normal exercise routine — using resistance — yesterday.)
The week of the surgery, I met up with one of my best friends. After he’d examined the doctor’s fine handiwork (!!!), we sat down and he asked me what had motivated me to get the surgery.
“Did anyone ever make fun of you or bully you or whatever?” he asked.
“No, no one ever said anything negative about my boobs,” I replied. “And I think that’s one of the really interesting things about my approach to this surgery: I did it totally from a place of self-love, not from a place of self-loathing. I never hated my boobs or felt deficient or ‘less of a woman’ because I was a small B cup. Once I got past my eating disorder years, I’ve loved my body. In fact, I have been in an ongoing love affair with my body ever since I started working out and I saw what my body is really capable of. Even though surgery is expensive and it has its complications, to me it’s really no different to working out, wearing make-up, getting a blow-out, or wearing designer shoes. It’s about transforming to match the vision of myself I have in my head. Why not look the way you really want to look?”
HOW DO RADICAL SELF LOVE AND SURGERY INTERCONNECT?
I think it’s a common misconception that people get surgery (or Botox, go to the gym, wear make-up, get tattoos, etc.) because of some deep-seated self-loathing. Sure, some people go under the knife for extreme reasons. Some people will never be satisfied with what they see in the mirror, no matter what changes they make to their external appearance. Surgery gets a bad rap because when it goes bad, it really goes bad, and it’s excitedly splashed all over the tabloids. But there are so many normal, everyday people who have minimal procedures that they’re thrilled with. People get their noises straightened, tummies tucked, breasts enlarged or reduced, and most casual onlookers would never have a clue.
My philosophy is this. If it makes you feel good, and your intentions are clean, do it, but — and it’s a big caveat! — you have to love yourself first! Making a change to your external appearance won’t do anything if you haven’t done the internal work. If you can approach any kind of enhancement from a place of radical self love, you’re much more likely to be pleased with the results. But if you dislike who you are at your core, getting a boob job won’t make you any happier, you’ll simply displace your disappointment. You’ll probably start obsessing about your thighs instead.
“My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.” — Ani DiFranco
I don’t believe body modification and radical self love are mutually exclusive. After all, I get dressed up every day, I have half-sleeve tattoos, and I’m a member of Sephora’s VIB Rouge (hahah). To me, radical self love is about adorning yourself and adoring yourself in any way you see fit. It’s about experimentation and play, turning your body into art. No judgment. Do your thing!
The pressure on women to look and behave a certain way is massive, and we can never please everyone. You’ll always be too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, too feminine, too masculine, and the list goes on. You have to live your life for yourself. You have the power to define what is beautiful and desirable in your own mind. I don’t have a “perfect” nose but I love it and have no plans to change it, even though most cosmetic surgeons would probably start there.
A lot of women feel shame around the fact that they want to change their appearance, and that’s bullshit. If you have the means, why not? Some people love to judge women for getting cosmetic surgery, but what someone does with their body is no one else’s business. To me, it’s in the same category as pro-lifers: get the fuck out of here with that shit, and stop assuming you know what is best for other people.
SO HOW DOES IT LOOK?
In the end, we went for round, silicone, moderate profile, 375cc implants, inserted under the muscle. I think the size is perfect and even though they’ll look a little different in a few months time when they drop down, I’m really enjoying this stage.
In my opinion — which, let’s face it, is the only one that matters — it looks great. I couldn’t be happier with the result: it has totally surpassed my expectations. I had no bruising and practically zero pain. I feel ecstatic, really sexy and more feminine. I’m able to wear a bunch of dresses that I could never fill out before, that previously sat dejected in my closet! My posture is much better and I feel more confident in a subtle way.
Plus, going bra-shopping the other day was one of the most fun experiences of my life! Oh my god. So good. I can’t wait to shop for bikinis to take to Mexico. Holy shit!
Radical self love is about doing what’s right for you, and making choices from a clear and centered place. It’s not about pleasing others or fearing their reactions. Getting surgery doesn’t make you shallow or superficial, it doesn’t mean you’re not a feminist, it doesn’t mean shit. Just like the decision to get married (or not), have babies (or not), run for president (or not), it’s your life, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.
I have no shame or regret about what I’ve done — just the opposite, in fact. If you have any questions, ask me on Instagram and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Oh, and I’ll leave you with this.