Laurie Penny and breast implants

French exploding breast implants — hilarious, right? Wrong | Laurie Penny | Comment is free | The Guardian

I’ve been following the story about the French breast implant recall with some interest, as it may affect someone in my family (I am not sure if her implants are from the company involved in this scandal). The French government has advised all women who received any of this company’s implants to have them removed; the British government has said that there is not sufficient evidence to justify the risk of putting women through another operation to remove them. What I am concerned about is the misconception put forward in Penny’s article, which appeared in today’s printed Guardian:

Breast enhancement is by far the most common cosmetic surgery procedure in both Britain and the US, and the number of operations continues to rise, despite the recession. A significant proportion of those surgeries are performed on women who have lost their breasts to mastectomy, or on trans people as part of gender reassignment surgery, but most are straightforward choices made by women seeking to make their healthy, normal mammary glands look a little more like the pert, rigid teats you see in the pages of Nuts and Loaded.

This is simply inaccurate. A fair number of women who receive these implants for cosmetic reasons do so because their existing breasts, though perfectly functional, do not actually resemble the breasts of any other women they know, let alone those in Nuts or Loaded (as if most women read those rags anyway). Some women become self-conscious because they have been bullied at school (as is the case with the family member I mentioned, as with someone mentioned in a story about this issue in yesterday’s paper), even by so-called friends, but either way, they want average-sized — or even below average, just noticeable — boobs. It is not fair to assume that they have all been brainwashed by the media, the patriarchy, or anyone else; it is a matter of being aware of not looking like other adult women. As plastic surgeon, Prof Simon Kay, said:

There’s a perception that women having breast implants are all bobble-headed bimbos looking for enormous pneumatic breasts, but this is not the case. They are ordinary women.


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