Guest Blogger Cacie: Missing the Point

Longtime Shapelings will already be familiar with my dear friend Cacie from the “To hell with tiny pants” post. When I heard the mindbogglingly antifeminist responses she’d been getting to her upcoming breast reduction — news that, to be fair, might throw people off a bit, but COME ON — I asked her to write a post about it. (Incidentally, though this should go without saying: This is a space to talk about assumptions, cultural and personal, and the way those come out in unguarded spontaneous reactions — in other words, how things people say off the cuff can reflect a misogynist culture. It is NOT a space to talk about whether Cacie is making the right choice or has the right motivations in getting her surgery.)

I’m getting a breast reduction tomorrow. It’s something I’ve wanted since the summer I was 13 years old, and for years I tried to convince myself that I could live with them. When I discovered how wonderful the health insurance at my new job was going to be, I started thinking about scheduling a consultation with a surgeon – worse case scenario, I’d learn a lot more about the procedure and my health insurance would decline to cover it, at which point I’d have to consider the financial feasibility of it. A few weeks later, I got a call from my doctor saying my insurance company approved it, and I scheduled my surgery.

It’s not easy for everyone to understand. In fact, I’d venture to say that most initial reactions include at least one, or if not all three of the following statements: “WHY?!” “You’re not that big!” “What does your boyfriend think about this?”

I can almost understand the first two. Most people wouldn’t willingly choose to go the opposite direction of society’s standards of beauty/sexuality, and trying to see the world from another person’s perspective can be tricky. I’m not totally okay with it, but I understand it. The third statement, however, is problematic in several ways.

My boyfriend and I have been together for over three years. We live together. He’s seen me have an emotional breakdown over burning the potatoes. I’ve seen him drive like a maniac and flip people off in traffic. We both have our less than beautiful sides, but we are overwhelmingly happy together and that’s all I’ll say about that sappy stuff. So you can probably understand the kind of nasty responses I have to swallow after someone asks me “what does your boyfriend think about this?”

“Considering the fact that my boyfriend is extremely shallow, and the only interesting, attractive, and lovable attributes I have are my breasts, it’s going to be pretty difficult for him. But it’s super nice of you to make such rude insinuations and call my relationship into question.”

I’m pretty sure most people don’t realize exactly what they’re saying about him, me, or us when they ask that question. Of course he cares about me and of course he’s attracted to me, but if he had seriously only stayed with me for the last three years because of my large breasts, and I knew about this and didn’t care, then… actually there is no “then.” Because that is totally unrealistic. So what do I actually say to people when they ask me this question?

“He’s an ass man.”

130 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Cacie: Missing the Point

  1. Awesome post! I don’t get why people question that kind of decision. If the financial side has been mitigated, it is really a non-issue. And YOUR frakking body. WTF. I know several people who would LOVE to have this done, but can’t… due to the insurance issue. Be safe in the surgery and swift recovery!

  2. I’ll share a rather less dramatic story about a change to my personal appearance.

    I used to have hair so long I could sit on it. It’s naturally thick and wavy, and I used to get tons of compliments and comments on it. Then I got a shoulder-length haircut. Cue all the people asking why, how could I have done such a thing, but it was so beautiful, how will I get the boys now. Thanks, people, it’s nice to know that nothing else about my appearance, personality, or intellect is attractive to anyone.

    The kicker? My dad didn’t even notice the change until I told him. Neither did several of my classmates.

  3. ha! fantastic responses!

    good luck with the surgery. as someone who has considered it myself, i very much understand the appeal and hope it brings you what you want!

  4. It’s funny; I’m in the opposite situation, to a certain extent, in that I think I have what are considered the Rack of Doom equivalent of Death Fat (Death Boobs?), but am not interested in surgery at this point. I think people assume that’s bizarre – insurance would cover it and it would be so much easier to find clothes that fit! Underscores the extent to which women are allowed a very, very narrow range of bodies, doesn’t it?

  5. rebelleink, my sister is considering this, and I have questioned it as well, because I know that all surgery has risks, and I worry about her. My loved ones going under the knife is never a “non-issue”. I try not to be too negative about it, since I realize that I don’t fully get where she’s coming from on this, since I don’t live in her body and don’t fully know how this issue impacts her. It’s her decision – I’ll just be over to the side, biting my nails about it.

  6. Fascinating — thanks for sharing!

    My mom got similar questions about what my father thought — when she joined the Air Force after following his ass around the globe for 23 years in the Navy. Of COURSE a woman would follow a man around, but a man would rather get divorced than move for the career of his wife of 24 years …. yeah.

    Misogyny abounds.

  7. Cacie, I love your response and am sending good thoughts your way. Not trying to talk you out of it at all, but I did have a roommate who had to go back several times to have the damage caused by the first surgeon corrected. However, it sounds like you are going into this very well-informed, so I’m sure you’ve got a terrific surgeon. Best wishes for the surgery!

  8. Best of luck with your surgery, with your recovery, and with everything.

    Your body, your choices: you’re a brilliant woman, and I know that whatever decisions you make they’re ones you’ve thought about and researched.

    How rude of some people to assume otherwise.

  9. I second JR’s annoyance at the similar “missing the point” thing in regards to hair. I recently got my hair cut from shoulder length to an absolutely awesome short and playful around the ears/chin length style. People immediately went from, “Oh it’s so CUUUUUTE” right into “But what does your husband think?”

    Um, lets go back to “Cute” and stick with “It’s MY frickin’ head. It doesn’t really matter what he thinks; it is MY head and MY haircut! And I love it! No one asks HIM what I might think when he shaves his beard!” Besides, if all that my hubby loves about me is the length of my hair then I’ve got other things to worry about.

    But alas, people are so quick to miss the point on a lot of things like that.

    Safe surgery and quick recovery prayers for Cacie!

  10. Good luck with your surgery. I think you have a great response to all of the haters, but here are two others:

    1) cribbed from someone here: “Wow, what a rude comment!”

    2) from Miss Manners, or one of those old skool books: “Why do you want to know?”

    They serve the same purpose. Pointing out the idiocy of the comment.

    May your healing be swift. Happy Holidays!

  11. Good for you, Cacie! I had the surgery 3 years ago, and the only thing I regret is waiting as long as I did. I never mentioned it to anyone, however, so I didn’t have to deal with any incredibly rude & inappropriate questions or comments. And the only post-op observations I got were, “You’re looking good…have you lost some weight?” Why, yes. Yes, I have.

  12. A blank look is also good, as if you couldn’t believe what you just heard; then follow with “Excuse me, I don’t think I heard you correctly?”

  13. cribbed from someone here: “Wow, what a rude comment!”

    Best delivered in an incredibly perky, smiley way. :)

    Good luck on the surgery – in the “best wishes” category, one of my good friends had it done and also said it was fabulous – no more aching back, no more shoulder problems, etc. And thanks for such great writing.

  14. cribbed from someone here: “Wow, what a rude comment!”

    The genius of this long-lost suggestion was to add “You must be so embarrassed!” as your next sentence. :-)

    Good luck, Cacie — here’s hoping everything goes smoothly, and that your recovery is speedy and uneventful.

  15. ALL YOUR BOOBS ARE BELONG TO US. Ugh. I hate that those are the reactions you’ve gotten, but I love your unspoken response. The only experience I got with that kind of question was when I got highlights for my 30th birthday. As I recall, a quizzical, “Why would he think anything about it?” did the trick.

    Cacie, awesome post, best wishes with the surgery. May I ever so gently and respectfully suggest that one nice thing to do during recovery might be to start a blog so that the world can read more fantastic writing like this? (I don’t know what the recovery involves, so if this is unfeasible, then I retract the suggestion with apologies.) :)

  16. To add to the chain of people talking about a less-dramatic style change, regarding hair; I used to have really, REALLY super-long hair. Sitting on it wasn’t even the standard, I did that no problem. And it took a LOT of care and maintenance, and when I got tired of that, I chopped off about 2 and a half feet of hair, still had relatively long hair, and donated what was cut to Locks of Love. It felt so good, I decided to do it every two years afterwards, anytime my hair got long enough to donate a large chunk.

    Immediately afterwards I had people asking me why I did it, it was “So Pretty!!”, and even got some snarky comments on how without my long hair, I was just fat. Yyyyeah. Fortunately, I don’t have a SO for people to ask, “But what does HE/SHE think?” I count my blessings in that regard.

  17. People can really say the most sexist privileged bullshit when they’re not thinking. I think your response “he’s an ass man” is quite clever. Personally I would practice a quizzical look before I say “does it matter?”.

    I don’t really have much else to say, good luck Cacie!

  18. Cacie, your response is PERFECTION.

    And I am hearing y’all on the long hair thing. My hair was hip-lenth, massively thick, and curly to boot. Yet I had everyone from strangers to some of my best friends telling me I wasn’t ALLOWED to cut it because they loved it.

    Well, they can grow their own damn hair. I’m thrilled with my much much much shorter hair – and so is my budget for shower and hair products.

  19. Also, I’ve got a post percolating in which I intend to reference this, but in the meantime, everyone should read Latoya’s post at Racialicious today, talking about her transition to natural hair. Guess what one of the rude things people said to her was.

  20. To make a far more “insightful” *snort* and meaningful comment, all of this stuff comes down to body ownership. They ask if Cacie’s boyfriend approves because HE is the owner of her body, not her. Women’s bodies are objects rather than self-determined, you know, people.

    / rant about patriarchy

  21. I would go all quiet… and then say “He’s leaving me, he only loved me for my breasts” *Sob loudly into hands… follow with scathing eyeroll*

    People are such dicks. Go you for lightening your burdens!

  22. I’d say you could also respond to the SO concerns with something like “Oh, no, we have a very modern relationship. He says my body is my own. I didn’t even have to ask him for permission!”

    Except people might not get it, and think that you really DID have to ask your boyfriend for permission at some point in the past, and we all know that’s bizarre.

    My husband used to have long hair and a full beard, and people sometimes asked him “Wow, what does your wife think?” I always said it’s his own hair, to do with as he likes, so my opinion really didn’t enter into it.

    Seriously, what is with the fine line between thinking it’s weird and oppressive to have to ask an SO for permission to cut your hair or otherwise modify your body, and responding “But what does your SO think?” just before/after the haircut, etc.? Those two ideas are NOT THAT DIFFERENT.

  23. At a message board I post at, a woman was talking about getting her hair cut, but she had to ask her boyfriend’s permission first.

    Oh the rage…it burned. It burned so hard I had a Drew Barrymore in “Firestarter” moment, complete with mysterious wind blowing my hair (which I will cut as short as I damn well please) all askance.

    Cacie, good luck with your surgery and a swift and as painfree as possible recovery to you!

  24. On the flip side? I’ve been asked why I HAVEN’T had a breast reduction. “Whatever for?” tends to result in the virtues of less shoulder pain, not needing a bra, and losing weight. *eyeroll*

    I also find it interesting that my honest answer (“Reduction usually damages or severs the nerves, and I am not willing to sacrifice my sexual pleasure just to have a society-approved boob size”) usually results in my being told that a) my sexual pleasure isn’t important or b) I must be imagining it, because women’s don’t actually enjoy having their breasts played with.

    Because of course ALL women have the exact same sexual responses installed at the factory to save men from having to deal with individual variations.

    This is usually where I start to foam at the mouth.

  25. It burned so hard I had a Drew Barrymore in “Firestarter” moment, complete with mysterious wind blowing my hair (which I will cut as short as I damn well please) all askance.

    God I know those moments.

  26. I have to fess up.

    I have asked the hair question more times than I can count. It was a reflex for me.

    I used to work in a salon during college. I answered phones, made coffee and other ovarian tasks.

    So many women came in, talked lustfully about cutting their hair to their shoulders or shorter, but wouldn’t. Their reason: “My husband will kill me!”

    One woman did it anyway. At her next visit, she told the stylist to cover the gray. No cut. Her husband didn’t speak to her for THREE DAYS because she cut her hair.

    I could write a dissertation about the women who came in for a complete change in color or length because their relationships had ended and they were “allowed” to do it.

    And, finally, a woman at my church stood up during a sharing part of the service to explain that she’d cut her hair because she wasn’t with anyone who cared about the length so much anymore. Her ex-boyfriend looked very, very ashamed.

  27. PS. – living400lbs –

    I’ve had a breast reduction.

    I haven’t had sensation in certain areas of the breast ever since. No one talked to me about that.

  28. b) I must be imagining it, because women’s don’t actually enjoy having their breasts played with.

    Oh, damn, I feel sorry for whoever that person goes out with.

    I would go all quiet… and then say “He’s leaving me, he only loved me for my breasts” *Sob loudly into hands… follow with scathing eyeroll*

    I am in love with this answer and want to have its babies. :)

    I think the “Wow, what a rude question, you must be so embarrassed” retort, along with many of the others, needs to go in one of those handy “faq” kinds of posts that are being developed.

  29. Just a thought…

    My husband has a mustache and goatee, which he knows I really love and find very attractive. One day last summer, he shaved it off suddenly and I have to admit, I was shocked that he hadn’t told me he planned to do it, or asked me what I would think of it. This is not because I feel like I own his body, or that he should have my permission to make changes to said body; it was simply a gut reaction to a significant change in his appearance that I wasn’t prepared for.

    I think when people ask this question, their intent may not always be to assume that your SO owns you so completely that you can’t change anything about yourself; it may be just that when we make significant changes to our bodies, there is another person who is going to be affected by that change, and they are curious about the reaction the change garnered.

    I’m not sure what to say about women who say they need “permission” – I think that’s probably a different ball of wax. But, consider that not everyone who asks this question is assuming that you are one of those women.

  30. Cindy wrote: I’ve had a breast reduction.
    I haven’t had sensation in certain areas of the breast ever since. No one talked to me about that.

    I think I got that from Olivia Goldsmith’s book Flavor of the Month, but confirmed it from reading on the net and talking with a friend who’d had the procedure. She didn’t care, because she didn’t get a lot of sensation there anyway.

    In my case, I have comfortable bras (I’m a 46 DDD/F) and I do like my breasts the way they are. Also, about 14 years ago I took a 2-week vacation with lots of walking and no computer use … and found what I’d been told was “bra putting too much stress on shoulders and upper back, perhaps you should have them reduced” issues largely cleared up. While wearing the same bras every day as I do at work. I began to wonder if perhaps the real problem was more about “hunching over a computer” and consulted the company ergonomics office on my posture and workstation (I was at a Fortune 100 tech firm that had such things). I haven’t looked back.

    But I also understand that other people are different. What is manageable for me might not be for someone else. Proportions matter! Individuals are individuals! And I do hope Cacie’s surgery & postop go well.

  31. My new boobs just turned 5 years old at Thanksgiving (happy belated birthday, boobs!), and I have absolutely no regrets. Like Cacie, I’d been fantasizing about it since I’d hit puberty (when I was 10!) and was up to a C-cup by 4th grade and into a G or so by the time I was out of college. Surgery took off 7 lbs 3 oz and I’m still a large C. With full sensation everywhere, I might add (if you’re considering this type of surgery, find a surgeon who knows how to reduce while leaving your sensitive bits intact!). Suffice it to say that I wish Cacie the best!!

    Fortunately, I didn’t face any rude questions about my decision, but I did have one FUNNY reaction. One co-worker that I’m fairly close to, when I told her that I’d been approved for boobie surgery, hestitated and said “Um…you’re having them *reduced*, right?” Hahahahaha….yes.

  32. I just made my appointment to see the surgeon, for the day after I turn 35. I’ve wanted a reduction since my teen years, and finally decided to do something about it. Two women at my work had reductions the same week, and it turned out another friend and colleague had had one years ago. The reactions of people I’ve told have almost uniformly been ‘Good for you! I had one/A friend had one, and it was one of the best decisions I/she ever made!’

    I’m also single, which may have contributed to the lack of concern over what a man might think.

    One guy friend was all “Plum, why??” but it was more about him being general opposed to plastic surgery. He’s kind of a hippy, only he bathes more often ;)

    I’m lucky in that my parents are both doctors, one of their best friends is a plastic surgeon, and when I ran the name of my surgeon by him, he said the doctor I’m going to is considered by his peers to be one of the best in Canada. All that medical expertise around me, plus my tendency to do research, also means that I’m fully aware of all the risks.

  33. Charitably, I’d like to assume that most people are simply struggling to figure out what the proper response *is* and say the first thing that pops into their mouths. If someone I knew suddenly told me they were getting a breast reduction, I don’t think I’d get further than “Why?” myself. (Since I suspect, “Oh, good idea!” wouldn’t go over well, even on someone with a Rack Of Doom. Maybe I’m wrong.)

    Also charitably, I’d assume that anyone who was making massive changes to their lives or bodies would have already talked about it with their partner(s). I wouldn’t shave my head and have my lip pierced without talking it over with mine, not because I need their permission but because we’re PARTNERS, that’s how we work.

    So if your boyfriend already knows you’re getting them done, what business is it of mine what the boyfriend thinks about it? None really. It would be nosy of me to demand that information. I suppose if we’re the kind of friends where I know exactly how your boyfriend reacts sexually to everything you’ve tried because we gossip about that sort of thing, then it might make sense to ask…

    Hrm. I suspect it’s also possibly a way of expressing disapproval without having to do so directly, by raising the spectre of someone else’s disapproval. If you hear that your friend is considering taking a new job and moving across the country, you might wail, “But what about your husband???” when what you really mean is “But what about ME???” Socially Acceptable Invisible Authority Figure potentially disapproves of your actions!

  34. I can’t remember what I actually said when Cacie told me she was getting the reduction, but in looking for clues I did find an early suggestion for how to respond to “what does your boyfriend think” types: “Oh, he doesn’t want me to be sexy.” Hee.

  35. “Considering the fact that my boyfriend is extremely shallow, and the only interesting, attractive, and lovable attributes I have are my breasts, it’s going to be pretty difficult for him. But it’s super nice of you to make such rude insinuations and call my relationship into question.”

    Why swallow that one? That is GENIUS.

    (Unless, I suppose, it’s your boss or something.)

    Good luck, Cacie!

  36. Cacie, I love your response! And a bunch of the others here. I hope your surgery goes well and you recover quickly.

    I don’t understand how people reach adulthood without having formulated a response to surprising news. I’m not, shall we say, renowned for my tact, but when I’m on the opposite side of this equation — when someone delivers news I find shocking or announces a decision of which I disapprove but about which my opinion is clearly not being solicited* — I recite the following: “Oh, wow! I wish you all the best of luck with that.”

    I don’t have to lie, because I do wish them the best, even if I think they’re being stupid, and either I can leave it at that or it gives me time to think of something non-jackassy to say.

    *Not that this is the case here, of course. But when, for example, a coworker announces they’ve gotten engaged to partner I’ve never liked, it comes in pretty handy.

  37. I hope your surgery goes well!

    When I got my most recent tattoo, the artist asked, while he was doing the tattoo, if my husband was okay with it.

    I stammered out a yes because I was startled and also because I didn’t want to piss off the guy stabbing me with a needle full of ink. Not one of my prouder moments. But the tattoo turned out great, at least.

  38. I had no opinion on my hair the other week, so I asked my husband at what length did he think it looked best. I figured if I didn’t care how long my hair was (well, as long as it was beyond shoulder length), I might as well ask someone who does. But I think that’s sort of a weird situation, and I asked him sort of in the same fashion that I might ask a girl-friend, not, like, “this is your body; how do you want it decorated?”

    I got the “But what does your husband think??!?” just a few days ago, from my boss, upon being informed that I hadn’t changed my last name upon my recent marriage. Uh, seriously? Do you think he’d still be my husband if he cared that much that I wasn’t changing my name?

    Go you, Cacie! I wish you a speedy recovery!

  39. Crikey. I too got a similar response when I cut my hair to within 5mm of my scalp, and, er, you know, it hadn’t occurred to me to ask my partner’s permission or consider his finer feelings at all. I did make a point of cutting it in front of my daughter so she wouldn’t be shocked by the New Mother suddenly appearing in her house. But I didn’t ask *her* permission either.

    But something like breasts – that’s, well, that’s. Moreso with bells on. Goodness.

  40. “I got the “But what does your husband think??!?” just a few days ago, from my boss, upon being informed that I hadn’t changed my last name upon my recent marriage. Uh, seriously? Do you think he’d still be my husband if he cared that much that I wasn’t changing my name?”

    Mine was somewhat shocked that anyone thought it was any of his business. Which they totally did.

  41. @ Stephanie and Ailbhe –

    I *still* get “but isn’t [husband's name] hurt that you didn’t take his last name?” from family members. We’ve been married for four years. Ugh.

  42. Congratulations on getting your reduction!

    I had one in October, and went from an H/I/J cup to a C/D. I’m still finishing up the healing, but it’s so amazing to be able to do things like fit into clothes and not have any back pain. Sometimes I just have to grope myself to believe that I actually had it done!

    Cheers to you and good luck in recovery!

  43. I have a thought percolating on this topic and similar but am having a hard time forming coherent thoughts. Consider this a rough draft and would love all of your input.

    When someone says something rude, vaguely inappropriate, nosy or just odd what is the best response? The idea of the witty comeback, a little harsh delivered with some punch intended to make the person feel badly and belittle them just a bit for the behavior is tempting. It may or does make lots of people feel better.

    But… I have kids and well teaching them to be rude back feels all wrong. When at dance class another kid made fun of daughter’s wart I was all tangled up in what to advise her to do. Should she say something snappy back to the kid, ignore the comment, tell the teacher etc. I clearly told her the kid was rude and she should never let people like that make her feel badly that it says a lot about the person making the comment. Which she actually seemed to understand. But her question remained what should I do?

    The line between defending herself and being kind and good to other people is hard. If someone hits her she is forbidden to hit back but if they are verbally mean should I teach her to be mean back. Yes and no. See I’m tangled up here.

  44. I think “Why?” is a reasonable question to ask anybody who is talking about elective surgery, or making some other drastic change. (“I’m planning to move to New Zealand.” “*blink* That’s interesting. Why?”) Of course, there’s a difference between “Why?” and “How could any reasonable person even consider such a thing? What on earth are you thinking?” Some women want breast reduction surgery to relieve upper back pain, some want it because they are self-conscious about having their breasts stared at. Some want it because they are tired of how hard it is to find clothes that fit. (Cacie wrote about small breasts being “the opposite direction of society’s standards of beauty/sexuality,” but it’s not quite that simple. Part of the social standard is that a beautiful and sexy woman is supposed to be fashionably dressed, and few fashionable clothes are designed to fit large-breasted women.) So it’s a meaningful question, though of course it’s your own body and you don’t need to explain your decisions to random strangers, or even your friends and relations, if you don’t want to.

    I’m not sure what to think of the questions about your boyfriend’s opinion. A friend of mine went to a surgeon to inquire about breast reduction surgery, and the *doctor* needed to know how her husband felt before he would agree to perform the operation. (She stared at him in horror for a moment, then said, “It’s ok, doctor. He’s an ass man.”) That appalled me. But when a friend asks about your boyfriend’s reaction, that feels like a very different kind of thing. Maybe it’s based in the same kind of assumption (that women’s bodies belong to men) that surgeon had…but it might also come from concern for your well-being, or benchmarking how liberal boyfriends behave.

    Cacie, I hope the surgery has the results you want, whatever they are. And I hope the procedure itself goes easily, with a quick recovery.

  45. I *still* get “but isn’t [husband's name] hurt that you didn’t take his last name?” from family members.

    Funny how no one ever asks if you’re hurt that he didn’t take yours.

  46. ENVY! I’ve wanted a breast reduction for a long time. Background: My chest popped when I was about 13, didn’t stop growing until midway through high school, and now I am pregnant and, well, they could aptly be described as “jugs.” After talking to a lactation consultant, I decided I wouldn’t even think about it until I was done having kids, in case I’m one of those lucky women who can get free baby food out of her boobs. If not, oh well. But I don’t think our insurance is as good as yours, so we’ll be saving up. If anyone asks me what my husband thinks, I’ll tell them that he thinks they’re an idiot.

  47. 13, Never teh Bride? Talk about your late bloomers. The summer after grade 4 my mum took me aside and told me my older sister was embarrassed but the way my breasts stuck out since I wasn’t wearing my bra, so would I go and put it on? But it was less ‘would you mind putting your bra on, dear?’ and more ‘from this moment forward, never appear in front of other people without a bra on, even of the other people are just your family at lunch on Sunday.’

    By grade eight, my sisters, older and younger, would take my bras from the drying rack, put them on over their clothes, and prance around joking about their ostrich eggs.

  48. Congrats on your surgery? :)

    It burned so hard I had a Drew Barrymore in “Firestarter” moment, complete with mysterious wind blowing my hair (which I will cut as short as I damn well please) all askance.

    Flames on the sides of my faaaaaaace.

  49. I had a reduction just over a year ago. I did it because my boobs were preventing me from being as active as I wanted to be (they got in the way walking faster than a stroll, swimming, biking, doing yoga).

    A lot of people couldn’t understand why I would want smaller boobs. A number of people asked what my boyfriend thinks, those who knew I wasn’t dating asked what my mother thinks (she was very curious because she’s been considering the surgery herself).

    My friends asked if there was anything they could do to help. My hair stylist told me to come by the shop to get my hair washed if I had trouble doing it myself. My mom stayed at my house for a week helping me however I needed it (mostly she kept track of my drugs, took me out for walks, cooked my meals, took me to my post-op appointments, did the dishes and laundry, and moved some of my kitchen stuff from the cabinet to the counter so I could eat after she left).

    Just over a year later, I’m very glad I did it. While I’m still not as active as I want to be, I am much more active than I used to be able to be. I can bike without hitting my boobs with my knees, I can do upside down yoga poses and still be able to breathe, I can walk long distances. I can even jog and run (as much as my lungs and knees can handle).

    One thing about the whole thing that did come as a surprise to me was that about the same time I was mostly healed and started doing things as normal, my back started killing me. Apparently my core muscles didn’t know what to do with the different weight distribution. A few weeks of PT fixed that all up.

  50. What sweeberry said–but at the same time, why on earth would someone’s first assumption be that you hadn’t talked over a significant change in your appearance with someone so important in your life?

  51. Just “weighing in” -

    I had a breast reduction 3 years ago. BEST THING I EVER DID. I knew it was possible to lose nipple sensation – I lost NONE – if anything they are more sensitive.

    If I could have found a surgeon to do my procedure I would have done it when I was 20, not when I was 50, but I was (and have been ) teh Death FatZ for so long the answer for years was no, no, no.

    One thing that helped me was seeing my pal get it done- a thin woman with FF boobs – she too had total sensation and was able to nurse as well.

    I think there must be statistics available about postprocedural nerve response somewhere – one’s surgeon should have them. IN my case, though, I am comfortable and happy with my breasts for the first time in my entire life.

    kcd

  52. I got the “But what does your husband think??!?” just a few days ago, from my boss, upon being informed that I hadn’t changed my last name upon my recent marriage.

    I get this one too, but I give them a sob story about my family name dying out if I change it. People seem to be more ok with me keeping a name to do something nice for my father rather than keeping it because it’s my friggin name and I like it.

  53. I sooooo feel you, Cacie! I’ve wanted one for a while and, unfortunately, grad school insurance doesn’t cover this particular procedure. But I applaud your decision and wish you nothing but the best. Just do you and let the haters hate!

  54. I have long hair, and when people comment on it I point out that I don’t have to look at it, and my wife like it like this. Similarly, I have a goatee because my wife prefers me with one. It makes little difference to me, so I go with what she wants.
    However, I know that if I cared one way or the other she’d be happy anyway, our relationship isn’t based on looks.
    Similarly, I let her know what I prefer in her hairstyles, and trust her to take that into consideration when she makes the decision. It’s her body, and although I get input I don’t make the decisions about it.

  55. Funny how no one ever asks if you’re hurt that he didn’t take yours.

    Kate, there are only, like, five states were a husband can change his name to his wife’s last name in any sort of manageable way. Ed and I were both going to hyphenate – I was going to be Kirby-his last name and he was going to be his last name-Kirby but you can’t DO that in Florida without a lot of time and money invested in the legal system.

    It’s really ridamndiculous.

  56. Does breast reduction surgery affect one’s future ability to breast feed, or is that an urban myth? I’m lucky enough to have had exactly the size of breast I’d have chosen if I’d been able to, so surgery has never been on my radar. But breast feeding my daughters (who are now 14 and 10, so the experience is not recent : )) was, for me, one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done with my body. While I know that’s not at all the case for everyone, I have a friend whose mum has had her breasts reduced for comfort, and who might do the same thing one day, but has deliberately delayed till after breastfeeding is over for exactly this reason. It just seems another factor that a young woman might overlook and come to regret later, if it’s true, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

  57. My husband and I fully intended to BOTH change our names to something entirely different, but got so entangled in other paperwork nightmares that we couldn’t face the prospect of trying to iron that one out.

    His parents still occasionally address cards to “Mr and Mrs ” even though they know it’s not the case, but I just ignore that.

  58. It just seems another factor that a young woman might overlook and come to regret later, if it’s true, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

    Can we please make the fundamental assumption that people who blog and guest blog here about the choices they make regarding their bodies have thought through and researched those choices? Just because it’s the first you’ve heard about Cacie’s breast reduction doesn’t mean she decided on it yesterday. It’s incredibly presumptuous to assume that she needs you to point out the potential dangers.

  59. FYI, just got a text from Cacie’s boyfriend — he said “everything went fine, she’s in recovery, but of course I am less attracted to her because her mammaries have been reduced and I totally disapprove.”

    Just kidding, except about the first part.

  60. I agree about pointing out potential dangers and have been trying to decide how to best word my objections. However, that was not the only post to mention risks, just to be fair. I would hate for that ONE comment to get attacked when other people made mention, too. Not that I want ANYONE to be attacked, just to think about what they said. And we all know that I NEVER say things that I didn’t think through.. nope, never. :-) (that was sarcasm at the end, to be sure!)

  61. I would hate for that ONE comment to get attacked when other people made mention, too.

    Not that I need anyone to tell me who I can “attack,” but talking about your own reasons for choosing not to get surgery is very different from saying that you’d thought of some potential risk that “young women might overlook and come to regret later.”

  62. To be fair, she was asking if it was true or if it was an urban myth. She didn’t address it to Cacie and young women is pretty vague. *shrug* I didn’t read it as a message for Cacie but as a “is this thing true?” and if it is, people should think about that.

  63. It’s incredibly presumptuous to assume that she needs you to point out the potential dangers.

    Not to join the pile-on, but I could anticipate the, “Well, but if you don’t know what it’s like to breastfeed, then isn’t it helpful for someone who’s BTDT to point out that it can be this really special, wonderful thing that you’d want to move hell and high water to make work?” objection. So here are my .02.

    It’s true that there are aspects of motherhood that are really hard to anticipate (if one even cares about having kids in the future, which one need not, obvs.) However, I think someone who is unapologetic about her body being her own, is in fact the person MOST likely to know in advance whether she’ll care about (for example) breastfeeding and find it lovely, *or* be one to say “Gosh, health benefits aside, this is uncomfortable and vulnerable, I can’t make it work with my job to my satisfaction, and I’m lucky enough to be able to afford formula and access clean drinking water. Formula it is, then. Isn’t modern society wonderful?”

    (And because we all wig out when it comes to lady bits, let me point out that this is rather like how we could imagine someone saying, “Wow, going into a field where I’ll get paid $400K a year will give my hypothetical future children all these measurable benefits that come from being rich. And yet, I would hate that job. Plus, I have no aptitude for it. So, art school it is. Being as how it’s actually also my own life happening, you know, right NOW.”)

    For that matter, I could offer myself as an object lesson here. If I’d been about ten times more self-confident while pregnant, I probably could have anticipated that I’d a) stick it out with the BFing for the 6 months required to get the immunity benefits, b) wouldn’t enjoy it all that much or find it particularly special, and c) would be glad to quit after that. That is, in fact, what I did, for both kids. While pregnant, though? Oh, I thought I would ADORE breastfeeding and would find it really blissful and wonderful. Because that’s what I thought good mothers were supposed to do; and I was dismissive and contemptuous enough of the person I actually *was,* that I thought I could just make myself like and do the things that Good Mothers were supposed to like and do. Then when my actual self ended up muddying this idyllic picture, it was only with a lot of guilt and beating up on myself for not being like the mommies on the teevee.

    If I’d been more self-aware and less filled with shame and anxiety, I could have realized, “Okay, I’m probably someone who will put up with a lot to make sure that our family gets a few less colds and the kids get a few less ear infections, because I hate dealing with illness. However, I won’t enjoy the mechanics of BFing, so I’ll probably want to be darn sure there’s an end date within months rather than years. That’s how it works for me, personally, to superimpose ‘Me’ onto this weird thing called ‘Motherhood.’ Other people are doing a different kind of superimposing, in different circumstances, so of course they’ll arrange their lives differently. And good for us all.”

    Sorry, I guess that’s just a long way of saying: yeah, you can’t predict the future, but knowing who you actually are and what you actually care about – and that you don’t have to apologize for either of those – is a hell of a good way to make decisions that you can live with later.

  64. I actually read it the same way as The Rotund did, but I agree that it’s also important to remember that one doesn’t always get all the information on a person’s decision, especially from a blog post that was dedicated to one specific aspect.

    As for me, I’m another one who’s always getting asked why I won’t have a breast reduction surgery and frustrated responses to “Because it’s my choice and I choose not to?”

  65. As for me, I’m another one who’s always getting asked why I won’t have a breast reduction surgery and frustrated responses to “Because it’s my choice and I choose not to?”

    I’m starting to wonder at what point we shift from the “OMG, how could you want to make your boobs smaller???” reactions to “OMG, your boobs are so freakish. SURGERY!!” reactions. It really does seem like people get one or another reaction with no middle ground. (I think I mentioned upthread that I’m in the second group, and I’ll admit, for reasons entirely related to my own issues, I was glad to see on this thread that I’m not the only one.). Nobody is really safe from the ownership over women’s body’s mentality, are they?

  66. ^
    Incidentally, I read over what I wrote and wanted to say that I didn’t mean to sound dismissive of people who really do adore breastfeeding! Any more than I would want to dismiss people who really find other things deeply and personally meaningful, from sweat lodges to distance running to writing one’s own marriage vows. I’m sure those are deeply meaningful for some; they just aren’t for me, and neither was breastfeeding, and neither is a certain version of motherhood. That doesn’t make them bad. It just means we can enjoy what we enjoy because we enjoy it.

  67. A Sarah, I think your comment is awesome.

    LilahMorgan, that’s a really interesting thing to ponder. I’ve never gotten that question but a friend who wears the same bra size as I do and is shorter by a few inches has gotten it several times.

    Maybe people have their own mental definition of “proportional” and if you exceed that, they’re all about trying to convince you to conform to it?

  68. LilahMorgan, I actually have this theory that for me it happened when I told my mother I wasn’t going to buy bras at Target anymore…which was also at the very end of college. It should not have come as a huge shock – she was constantly telling me they didn’t fit well, and she didn’t even know that from the last few years of high school on I was saftey pinning them together in the front – but from then on, there was this sense of crossing the line between big and TOO big. Then again, I think there’s also some grass-is-always-greener issues – my mom is a 32A and I’m a 34 H.

    I’m glad to know that other people are in the same boat too, though. I remember feeling like such a freak because of my breasts. Although, really, the bras were just the first step…

  69. LilahMorgan, I actually have this theory that for me it happened when I told my mother I wasn’t going to buy bras at Target anymore

    This makes sense; I’ve always kind of thought that maybe Victoria’s Secret had a huge effect in defining what’s acceptable in this area. It’s everyone’s default lingerie store in their mind (terrible as it might be), and Ds are big in their store and DDs are . . . well, maybe they exist, but God, if you’re THAT big, you have to expect to dig through drawers for your bras. And if you can’t even fit into those? One-way ticket to freakville! Really, when you think about it, even the fact that they insist on stopping lettering at Ds and then just tacking on extra Ds instead of, you know, using the rest of the alphabet is pretty damned telling of their attitude. (I’m a 34H/HH too, so I’m definitely in the rest of the alphabet; I had a bit of a revelation when I found Bravissimo and thought “Why should there be only four standard cup sizes? That’s ludicrous.”)

    So maybe not being able to buy bras at Target or Vickie’s is equivalent to the people who are all “Well, I mean, I get having some curves, but if you’re SO FAT YOU CAN’T SHOP AT THE GAP you are TOO FAT.”

    (And thanks, Veiledbeloved, I always get a thrill when someone recognizes my username. :-))

  70. It’s everyone’s default lingerie store in their mind (terrible as it might be), and Ds are big in their store and DDs are . . . well, maybe they exist, but God, if you’re THAT big, you have to expect to dig through drawers for your bras. And if you can’t even fit into those? One-way ticket to freakville!

    I’ve heard (and totally buy) that this is partially responsible for so many women wearing the wrong size bra — basically, since Vicky’s tops out at a D (or DD?), people assume that’s the largest humanly possible cup size, and just start going up in band sizes until one fits. (And when they run out of band sizes, they probably go into a shame spiral about being fat.)

  71. people assume that’s the largest humanly possible cup size, and just start going up in band sizes until one fits.

    Yup, that’s what I did. Until it got to the point where the only bra I could fit my boobs into was so big around the ribcage it was pretty much just hanging there by the straps, and realised it was time to go to a specialty store and look for larger cup sizes. (At which point I realised that even back when I was smaller I was wearing the wrong bra size because I had no idea how a bra was supposed to fit).

    I get asked if I’ve considered breast reduction but personally, I like my boobs, and I don’t get back pain when I’m wearing a well fitting bra (although right now I’m sitting on the couch braless, and ow. Time to get up and put a bra on). I realise that everybody is different though, and I’m glad to hear Cacie’s surgery went well.

  72. Glad that the surgery went well, Cacie! Best of luck with recovery.

    As for the larger ‘ownership’ issue – yeeeeah. The boy took my name (full on legal name change and everything), and it’s always interesting to see the reactions that we get. It’s part of why he did it, actually, since he’s an academic (had hardly any papers under his ‘maiden’ name) and there are SO many assumptions about What Should Be Done that he likes to screw around with. Sometimes I can see the aborted questions flowing through people’s minds as they reject them for being inappropriate.

    Another interesting corollary is how I think women are sometimes deemed responsible for their husband/partner/children’s bodies – when he’s looking particularly disheveled, I’ve gotten some subtle messages about how I must want to clean him up, etc.

  73. Cindy wrote:

    “I’ve had a breast reduction.

    I haven’t had sensation in certain areas of the breast ever since. No one talked to me about that.”

    I just wanted to tell you that you’re not alone. No one mentioned that to me, either. And I’ve lost sensation in most of the surface of my breasts. I also learned after the surgery that I tend to be a keloid scarrer – despite all the Vitamin E I put on for months after the surgery, my “anchor” scars are still quite visible. (For a while, I was really horrified by that, and I admit I sometimes call them my “Frankenboobs.”) Anyway, I wish someone had told me all of this could happen. (I don’t know about whether or not I can breastfeed, since I don’t have kids.) However, i still would have made the same decision. I immediately lost the near-constant pain in my right shoulder, I could fit into clothes, I should shop for regular bras (rather than having them custom-made), and I actually felt *balanced* for the first time since pre-puberty. No regrets.

  74. I’m actually surprised to hear people saying that Victoria’s Secret tops out at D/DD (in the stores); I’ve been to a few VS’s and the 3 stores I’ve been to only had 2 bras in a D cup in the entire store (not lines of bras, or general styles/fabrics–like, two actual bras). Even if they did, though, I wouldn’t personally shop there because each time I’ve gone to VS I’ve gotten very rude treatment from store employees.

    ***Not trying to derail the thread, just interjecting a surprised “huh.”

  75. (Continuing derail) Vicky’s also runs notoriously small. Back when I was a DD in, like, Bali, I went into a VS and tried on bras. No go. Saleswoman asked how it went, and I said the bras were too small. She said let me get you a larger size, I said, it’s a DD. And she goes, “THE DD IS TOO SMALL??” Why yes, yes it is, but hey, way to make the customer feel like a freak, lady.

  76. I haven’t had sensation in certain areas of the breast ever since. No one talked to me about that.

    I missed the “no one talked to me about that” last time — if that’s what Alison was referring to with “another thing young women could overlook,” then I was hasty. Still worth saying, though: please assume that the decisions talked about in guest posts (WLS, breast reduction, hairpiece-wearing) are informed, thought-out decisions being written about by people we respect. There’s always someone who doesn’t, which might explain why I misinterpreted Alison if indeed I did. (I think it was inartfully said, if so.)

    I’ve been to a few VS’s and the 3 stores I’ve been to only had 2 bras in a D cup in the entire store (not lines of bras, or general styles/fabrics–like, two actual bras).

    I’m confused — isn’t that topping out at a D? (I don’t think it’s a derail at all, though — talking about the impossibility of clothing big breasts seems totally relevant on a breast reduction thread. :))

    I haven’t called Cacie yet but I plan to tomorrow… I wonder if she’s feeling totally surreal. I was thinking today about what it would be like to wake up from anaesthesia with a materially different body than the one you’ve had for the last 12 years. It must be simultaneously fascinating and disorienting.

  77. I haven’t had sensation in certain areas of the breast ever since. No one talked to me about that.

    Cindy, that’s appalling — that no one talked to you about the risks, I mean. It’s your surgeon (or sometimes his staff)’s job to talk to you about the risks of surgery, because there are risks to any surgery. You deserved to go into the process fully informed.

    I have an appointment for my consultation with a plastic surgeon in Feb., and I’m going almost entirely to find out more about my chances of losing nipple sensation and lactation. But I’m *really* over these 46H boobs, and their associated back pain.

    Alison S.: Does breast reduction surgery affect one’s future ability to breast feed, or is that an urban myth?

    Not an urban myth, though by no means a certainty. This page explains a lot about the variables, and could be useful to anyone considering reduction in the future.

    This is a big decision for me, and not one I’m planning to make lightly…. I’m already agonizing a bit over how heavily to weigh breastfeeding a child I may or may not have in the future against my own comfort now, how I feel about plastic surgery in general, how much I value nipple sensation versus how weird it is to accidentally smack yourself in the face with your boobs…. all that stuff. And I don’t even have all the info yet. So. Throwing that into the ring with people’s right to make well-informed decisions, and the assumption that Cacie and many others thought long and hard about this choice, as I know I will.

    Cacie, I wish you a speedy recovery!

  78. Ouch. I posted my remark about breast reduction possibly interfering with breast feeding a) because I genuinely wanted to know if it was an urban myth or not (thanks for the link, Karen), and b) because I thought that other people considering the procedure might be exploring the pros and cons through this discussion, and while I had seen the skin desensitisation issue mentioned above, I hadn’t seen anyone mention breastfeeding, so I thought it was worth mentioning. I took care to say that while I had found BF very empowering, I realised that that would not be the case for everyone, in case anyone was offended by my positive attitude towards it, but I didn’t think anyone would find the question itself offensive. It seems to me that many of the people here are quite a bit younger than I am (I’m 43) and certainly I never thought much about BF before I got to that life stage, when I was surprised to find how important it turned out to be to me. So if I had had breast reduction surgery as a younger woman and then found it prevented me from BF later, I would personally have been very sad about it, and I hoped my remark might be useful to someone who could potentially be in that situation. I quite agree that BF is not the be all and end all for everyone and that the breast feeding mafia are very tedious, but if it goes well, it can be great, end of story.

    I did not intend my comment to be taken as assuming that Cacie was not making a fully researched and informed decision, and my post was not directed at Cacie herself at all. It never occurred to me that anyone could think I was implying criticism of her or ignorance on her part, and if I’d realised I would get slapped by two of the moderaters for my post, I would either had put a big disclaimer in that I was not referring to Cacie in particular, or more likely not posted at all. Given she said she was getting the reduction “tomorrow”, it seemed clear to me that she had already made her decision and that the discussion here would therefore not have any direct impact on her in any case – how could I influence someone’s decision when they’ve already made it, even if I wanted to? Therefore, I thought this was a discussion triggered by her decision (glad it went well for her, BTW), rather than an opportunity to offer unsolicited advice, and I thought that my remark was in exactly the same spirit as the earlier comment about loss of sensation, although not based in personal experience, as I made clear. I apologise for any offence I may have caused anyone, but I assure you all it was completely unintentional. I also think there may be a slight cultural difference here: I am a good bit older than the mods, and English, and even with careful proof reading I think subtexts don’t always translate as well as one would hope. Sure, Fillyjonk, my post may have been “inartful”, but it certainly was well intentioned. I apologise again.

  79. I’m not sure, Fillyjonk, where I told you who you could or could not “attack.” I was saying that I would hate for one comment to be attacked, knowing that others would comment on it as well, when there was a comment early on that had, in my reading, the same tone, which I now realizes was unclear. If it sounded like I was attacking YOU or telling you who you “could” attack (as if anyone has that authority), I apologize. All of us are still learning how to approach certain topics, and none of us has all the answers. I know that I have a thin skin, but I sure felt like I was being reprimanded, as if I were an insolent child. Knowing that it is notoriously difficult to read intention over the internet, I may be overreacting, but I did feel quite like a troll being put in my place. I sure didn’t mean to step on any toes, even inadvertently.

  80. Alison S, I have a chip on my shoulder the size of a canyon about the Mom Police, due to their having cornered me at a really vulnerable time. It caused me to respond to things that you hadn’t said… which would be fine, except I responded as though you had in fact said them! Reading your followup made me see that I’d misunderstood. So there’s enough inartfulness to go around. I apologize.

  81. Also, in retrospect, and after reading Alison’s last comment, I don’t think that putting out alternate views is bad. As the person upthread said, she had not been told that she could lose sensation, which I thought was a major risk of reduction surgery. I would imagine that she, being cared for by doctors, thought that she had been given all of the information she needed to make an informed decision. Because breastfeeding can be compromised, and because it IS an important factor for many women, it seems crucial that we share our questions, experiences, and concerns. It is obvious that not everyone in the medical field has our best interests at heart. I would think that a space that has been so dedicated to raising awareness around the issue of fat (and feminism and disability and, and, and) would also be a space where we could come to each other with questions. Intention can’t be read in all cases, as we have witnessed numerous times. I just think that there are less confrontational, accusatory ways of dealing with disagreement. It makes me feel stupid to be “spoken to” when I am an adult who is trying to discuss an issue.

  82. Thank you to everyone who sent me well-wishes! They must have worked, because I’m feeling much better than I had expected to, which is a huge relief.

    To answer a few questions (and avoid contributing to any conflict):

    Before I got approved for the surgery, I did tons and tons of research, in order to determine if this is something I wanted to pursue seriously, or if it was just a thing I always contemplated but never intended to do. Two of my dear friends have had the procedure, and both encouraged me to go for it and were happy to answer all the questions I launched at them for the months preceding the surgery. I was VERY ANXIOUS for several weeks, and they assured me that everything I was experiencing was completely normal.

    As with any surgery, there are risks, however it is important to know the difference between risks and unfortunate certainties. Here are some of the risks I had to consider: loss of sensitivity/feeling, loss of ability to breast feed, disfiguring scars, horrible pain, dissatisfaction with the results, DEATH (because, with general anesthesia, you never really know if you’re going to wake up). There are other risks, but these are the big ones.

    I was willing to risk it. As it turns out, I’m glad I did, because so far, I’m extremely satisfied with the results – and I’m alive, so that’s always a bonus.

    It’s already been addressed in the comments, but the two primary concerns people seem to have (those related to sensitivity and breastfeeding) are not certainties – just risks like everything else. I would love to be able to BF some day, but my surgery may not have anything to do with my ability to do that. For one thing, I may never bear children. I’m only 24, so I’m not writing off the possibility, but I have no idea how things will go for me in the future. Also, not all women who bear children are able to breastfeed anyway. So regardless of the risk, it might not happen for me, and still it’s only a risk, not a certainty, and it’s a relief to think that breast feeding could still be in my future, if things go that way.

    Also, like some of the other commentators, sensitivity has never been a big deal for me. I was never particularly interested in the way they felt – it just never did much for me. We’ll see how it turns out, but I’m honestly not too worried about that aspect of it.

    I hope this didn’t upset or offend anyone! I just wanted to address a few things that came up in the comments and let everyone know that I’m doing well. Thank you again for the good wishes! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, I’m happy to answer.

  83. I’m so glad to hear that it went well! Can’t wait to hear how things feel 6 – 12+ months out – maybe a follow-up post then?

    I hate that there has been so much BS stirred up on this thread. I doubt that anyone meant to point any fingers or act in a “maternalistic” (rather than paternalistic) way. You SURE as hell have no reason to apologize for giving us an update so soon after surgery, especially.

    Rest, recover, and enjoy the results of your reduction!

  84. Thanks for clarifying, Alison. I don’t know how long you’ve been around, but if you look at some of the mishegas on Heidi’s guest post you’ll see why we’re quick to nip in the bud anything that looks like a scolding of people we’ve invited to speak here. (That is not the only time it’s happened, just the most notable.)

  85. some of the mishegas on Heidi’s guest post

    Actually, most of that bullshit seems to have taken place elsewhere than in our blog… there were follow-up posts elsewhere, etc. My bad… the point is, there’s history here.

  86. Thanks for the update, Cacie! So glad it went well for you.

    What I took away from Allison’s posts, and from those of others raising questions, is that it’s really important for people considering this or any surgery to be well-informed about the potential risks and benefits. Some of the folks on the thread reported experiences of not having been well-informed, and that’s useful information for the rest of us.

    Cacie’s original post, and her updates, are to me a great example of someone being a powerful advocate for her own health and healthcare choices, both within the medical framework and in her everyday life. Thanks so much for this thoughtful post, Cacie, and thanks to the Shapesters for inviting Cacie to share her experiences with us.

  87. Thanks for your nice post, A Sarah, and I’m very pleased you are feeling so good, Cacie. LilahCello, I do agree that I felt I’d been slapped down as a troll when I had only posted an entirely well meaning post that was slightly awkwardly worded. If I’d only put “other” in front of “young woman”, none of this would have happened, presumably. I was literally shaking when I read the original comments in reply, which is a stupid overreaction for a professional woman in middle age, but I don’t do conflict very well.

    It just seems to me that there’s a big difference between “haven’t you considered this potential risk, you numskull?” which is obviously totally unacceptable and appears to be what the mods thought I was saying, and “while considering this issue, is this risk something that people in general should be aware of?” which is what I thought I was saying. As JupiterPluvius and LilahCello said, being well educated about medical matters is very important for everyone when making decisions on health issues, and I think there is a fine line between making this place a safe place for FA issues and moderating comments so aggressively that well intentioned people are worried about posting at all, which may mean that less useful information is shared.

    I’ve been reading SP for a good few months now, and I’ve learnt an awful lot from it, but I take more care over what I write here than anywhere else on the internet that I visit regularly, because I am so wary of inadvertently causing offence and getting reprimanded. And I still get it wrong…. The standard of debate and discussion on here is very high, and it seems to me that the vast majority of posters are respectful and trying to engage in useful, thoughtful debate. But we are all busy: sometimes posts will be worded suboptimally, when people are writing them at work or while dealing with kids or dogs or partners or whatever else, crammed between other things in their lives. Calling someone “incredibly presumptious” for a non-confrontational post was, I still feel, harsher than it needed to be. Most people, most of the time, in my experience, are well meaning, and a gentle “be careful, there’s history here” caution after my first post would have done the job just as effectively and with a lot less trauma ; )

  88. Hi, Shapelings! I hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you. :)

    I just want to say something about the HAIR THING. Because it’s so weird, and pointless, and stupid.

    Point the first: WHICH THE HELL IS IT? LONG OR SHORT HAIR FOR TEH FATTIES? Because I Love, Love, Love my long and wavy hair (even if it is no longer blonde and now “mousy,” as my mom calls it, hey Mouse is my totem I’m glad I look like her!). But my family keeps bugging me to cut it. I told my sister “I don’t want to cut it, I want to grow it out longer” and she said “look I know you don’t want to hear this but you’re too fat to have hair that long, it doesn’t do anything for your FACE!”

    So which is it? Long or short? I think the world pretty much just thinks we’re all too fat to have hair.

    The other day after my hair had just dried from the shower it looked extra-wavy and pretty and I burst into my dad’s office and was like “DAD! I LOVE MY HAIR TODAY! IT’S SO PRETTY!” and he was like “Honey, you’re old enough now that you need to start doing something with your hair.”

    OBVIOUSLY PLAYING WITH HAIR IS A SIGN OF GREAT MATURITY. HAVEN’T THESE PEOPLE SEEN BRAIDING CHAINS ON THE ELEMENTARY PLAYGROUND?! FOR CRAP’S SAKE.

    Yellfest over. Sorry.

    Anyway.

    Hair. Fat. Whatever.

    I like it long!!!!!

  89. Alison, I was right there with you when you described shaking while reading comments (not here, obvs, but I’ve been there in other comment threads where I felt like the wheels just came off and everyone was mad at me and I didn’t even know what had happened.) I’ve also been reminded that I still have a tendency to assume someone’s being a sanctimommy even when they aren’t, and then I bemoan the fact that I live in a world of sanctimommies. hmmmm… I sense a flaw in my plan somewhere… *strokes chin thoughtfully*

    Cacie, I think you are a walking example of class in being so kind as to give an update…. and then apologizing lest you give offense. Good heavens! So glad to hear you’re on the mend and happy with your surgery! Please let us read more of your writing! Pretty please? :)

  90. A Sarah, a lot of the santimommies (great phrase) will get their comeuppances when their treasures become teenagers, I reckon. Hold that thought.

  91. Interestingly, I’ve been going through a similar situation as a prepare for a bilateral mastectomy (breast cancer) and no reconstructive surgery. As a large-breasted woman, I look forward to having prosthetic breasts that I can remove – and to running without a bra. I have gotten the same questions about how my husband feels about this (I asked him, and he said, “I care more about the rest of you” – right answer, guy.). I’ve blogged about this here:

    http://plainsfeminist.blogspot.com/2008/10/about-my-breasts.html

    Cacie, I’m glad you’re doing well.

  92. I get kind of the opposite thing, since my breasts have inflated about five cup sizes over the past couple years due to birth control. People I haven’t seen in a while are always going, “Heh, bet your husband’s happy about that, huh?”

    He…doesn’t care one way or the other. Shock, horror, he loves me for who I am as a person and not what my body looks like. He’d stay with me if I had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy. He was happy with my breasts when they were Bs, he’s just as happy now that they’re Gs. And since he saw the whole transformation first-hand over the long gradual process that it was, he didn’t notice–as I didn’t–until we realized none of my bras fit anymore.

  93. Alison, I appreciate your clarification, and your input is welcome here at SP. Whenever anyone feels stung by our moderation, I suggest a reread of this post. Here’s the part that addresses what you bring up in your comment:

    Realistically, this means that we have probably, on occasion, banned or berated a perfectly decent person who might have eventually blossomed into the kind of commenter we can’t wait to hear from. And you know what? We’re okay with that. We’re not proud of it, and we certainly don’t set out to exclude bright, interesting people from the conversation here. But if it happens every now and again, oh well — because overall, our being hardasses helps keep this blog readable and only rarely crazymaking.

    I think there is a fine line between making this place a safe place for FA issues and moderating comments so aggressively that well intentioned people are worried about posting at all, which may mean that less useful information is shared.

    Again, we are all for the sharing of useful information — but that’s not the primary purpose of this post (or even this blog). If you’re worried about posting something, you can always email one of the mods and ask if it’s kosher, or you could start a related discussion on the community site that is more specific to the information you want to share.

  94. Cacie, glad to hear you’re doing well!

    I was overflowing a 38DD by senior year of high school (biggest I could find in 1979). My friends and I joked about how it looked like I had 4 boobs from spilling out either the top or bottom.

    I talked to a plastic surgeon when I graduated from college and at that time, they would have actually removed my nipples then sewed them back on! No thanks. My mother was horrified when I told her I took a pass because I didn’t want to lose all sensation, but somewhat understood my wish to breastfeed in the future.

    Fast forward about 15 years, a set of twins and one more baby, and a lot of surgical advances. I breastfed all 3 of my girls to one degree or another, but it was actually made more difficult by my ever increasing breasts. One hand to hold the baby, one hand to keep my boob from engulfing her… not idyllic. Neither was the continuous yeast infection I developed under my breasts and on my stomach. That bothered me much more than any neck/shoulder pain I ever had. If a comfortable 44J bra exists, I couldn’t find it, which is too bad since I wore them day and night.

    I saw another surgeon and found out nothing had to be severed and put back on. My ex was not “thrilled,” but I think that had more to do with his fear of hospitals than anything else. (He did, however, refuse to ever again touch the arm I had “defiled” after I later got a tattoo.) He took great care of me post-op, but never considered my breasts sexual again.

    I ended up with nearly full sensation on one side and nearly none on the other and considered it a fair trade. I was surprised how painful recovery was, but healed well. That summer I went braless every chance I got–for the first time since I was about 11. I had 6 lbs removed from one side and 4 lbs from the other. I’m a C cup now, and ironically since I’m fat my chest is now *smaller* than clothing designers expect and clothes are nearly as hard to fit as they were before.

    The two things that have struck me long term about this process are:

    The insurance approval process was unnecessarily humiliating. They set a weight or volume that must be removed. Even though I was having several times that amount removed, they required nude pictures and detailed measurements of my breasts. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, that nearly derailed the whole process for me. And it was so unnecessary–I had numerous clinical findings PLUS the required volume to justify the surgery medically.

    The other striking thing was how differently other women reacted to me. I knew men would suddenly discover I had eyes (they did) but I continue to be amazed at how much friendlier women have been to me now that I have smaller breasts. I got a whole inch taller after surgery due to standing up straight for the first time in years, but kept the same personality. It wasn’t me who changed, it was them. And it made me sad.

    As for the current discussion, what is striking to me is the similarity in the reactions to Cacie’s breast reduction decision and the reactions when people decide to have weight loss surgery. In both cases it’s a personal choice, presumably made after research and reflection into the costs and benefits. And consultation with significant others if/when the woman in question feels so moved.

  95. The insurance approval process was unnecessarily humiliating. They set a weight or volume that must be removed. Even though I was having several times that amount removed, they required nude pictures

    They WHAT?!

    Is this not against any sort of code of practice? Or law? Words fail me.

  96. I’m late to this party. Thanks for the update, Cacie, glad to hear you’re doing well.

    I had mine, what? Like seven years ago? And I was really surprised at how short my recovery time was. I just felt bruised for a few days. Of course, at first, it looked like I had been mauled by some kind of wild animal or farm equipment, but it got better.

    I’m sure someone has warned you about this in your research, but as the swelling goes down, keep a close eye on your stitches, especially on the underside. As the weight of the breast starts to settle downward a little, they can come loose, (not to worry, they’re individual knots, the whole suture won’t come out, just one or two stitches) and you’ll want to get them fixed right away if they do. I got a nasty bit of scarring from that.

  97. Great post Cacie and I am visualizing you recovering in record time and enjoying this week. I had a similar surgical procedure 12 years ago … nothing most people could even notice but it meant a lot to me and I have never regretted it. Odd that our society pushes certain types of body-reshaping (piercings, botox, facelifts etc.) but distrusts others. Also, I have large breasts and have often thought about how easy life would/might be if I were smaller … :)

    I’ll be interested in how it’s going so I hope you’ll keep us informed (if you want to, of course!).
    martha quest

  98. lauredhel: Nope. Standard practice for this procedure. They’re headless pics (or, at least, they should be), which…. I can’t decide if that’s better or worse. My consultation’s scheduled for Feb., and I fully expect to have nude pics taken. You can also see these kind of pics as before and afters on various plastic surgeon’s websites. I assume those patients signed off on that.

    That said, I think it’s totally unconscionable to do it to someone who is deeply uncomfortable about it, such as an abuse survivor. Personally, I have almost no modesty, and no dignity about my boobs left. If that’s what insurance wants, have a ball. I’m just so grateful that the doctor deals with my insurance company, not me.

  99. what is striking to me is the similarity in the reactions to Cacie’s breast reduction decision and the reactions when people decide to have weight loss surgery. In both cases it’s a personal choice, presumably made after research and reflection into the costs and benefits. And consultation with significant others if/when the woman in question feels so moved.

    I actually think it’s different, for a couple of reasons. One is that the medical establishment tends to over-emphasize the dangers of fat, and under-emphasize the dangers of WLS and the long term effects, as do ads for the surgery, general talk about the surgery, etc. So, I’m not convinced that everyone gets to give fully informed consent.

    Second, I think the social stigma of fat is so extreme that there’s undue pressure to lose weight through any means necessary. Which is not to say that women with large breasts don’t experience social stigma, nor to suggest that it’s the responsibility of every fat person to live under that stigma…. you have to find a way to cope somehow, and if this is the only way someone feels they can cope, then good luck to them. But ultimately, I’d like to see the social stigma change, or the resources for fat people change, or something, so that WLS no longer feels so mandatory. That’s sort of a larger, systemic thing, not an individual thing.

    That said, of course, it’s certainly a personal choice that the rest of the world does not get to weigh in on.

  100. This is not directed at anyone personally but I have to say I am wondering why it is considered generally ok by FA to have a breast reduction but not to reduce any other part of your body (ie via lipo or other means)?

    Genuine musing, not snark.

  101. Bri, Karen actually answers your question beautifully above. Obviously we’ll defend anyone’s right to make choices about their bodies, but as Karen explains, the atmosphere surrounding weight loss makes it very difficult to make a truly informed, free decision.

  102. Bri, also, it should be noted that breast reduction is not a purely cosmetic procedure. Almost no one goes into breast reduction surgery just to look better, but to alleviate back pain, shoulder ruts from bra straps, the financial and psychological burden of having to buy often very ugly specialty bras, etc. Looking better is an entirely secondary reason, which is probably why, out of all plastic surgeries, women who have had breast reductions are the most likely to report being pleased with their results, and the least likely to ever have another procedure.

    It’s not just cosmetic, it’s therapeutic. Lipo, and I would argue, even WLS are primarily cosmetic procedures. And while anyone is free to have whatever cosmetic procedure they want done, because, you know, their body and all, it’s a little harder to get behind surgery just to improve your looks, especially when it’s often so dangerous.

  103. Lipo, and I would argue, even WLS are primarily cosmetic procedures.

    I’d counter, though, that a lot of people getting lipo and WLS think they’re doing it for reasons of health and comfort… which comes back to Karen’s point about being unable to get enough unbiased information to give informed consent.

  104. As noted above, I’ve had breast reduction surgery. It was done for “medical” reasons but I was certainly not unaware of the non-medical benefits. The only real surprise was other women being nicer to me (which says all kinds of scary things about our society but that’s another topic).

    I have not had WLS but my husband has, and I am confident he had fully informed consent as would I if I ever chose the procedure. In his case, lap-band allowed him to stop injecting insulin. He’s still a big guy, but an 80-lb weight loss has allowed him to control his blood sugar, improve sexual function, lessen strain on his knee (5 surgeries so far) and back (trying to avoid surgery)–and use a seat belt without an extender. He also got his cholesterol under control–a good thing since all the meds available are contraindicated for him for one reason or another. NOT a cosmetic procedure, which is why insurance paid for it.

    I find it somewhat paternalistic to see folks opine that one cannot “get enough unbiased information to give informed consent” for WLS. Some people go into any surgery with eyes deliberately shut. My sister-in-law and I had hysterectomies within a month of eachother. She stopped her doctor as he was explaining the risks and asked where to sign. I, OTOH, researched and interviewed doctors until I found one who agreed to do the minimum medically required surgery. (I wanted to keep my cervix to avoid potential sexual difficulties, and had a heck of a time finding a doc who “got it.”) I lined out entire paragraphs on the hospital consent forms. Hysterectomy is another surgery that is often done inappropriately in the U.S., but when it’s needed it can save quality of life and lives outright.

    Social pressure pushes us to do many things that we might not do if living in isolation. But someone who “thinks” they are having a surgery “for reasons of health and comfort” may be doing just that, even if the same procedure would bring you no comfort at all.

  105. That’s the best response ever. lol

    I have, in the past, considered reduction. My boobs are disproportionally large compared to my back and I have chronic aches and pains because of them. But I don’t have the time or money to do it, plus the weight I’ve lost recently has made the proportion more manageable.

    I never got to the point where I discussed it with anyone except my mom so I hadn’t thought about the stupid responses/questions from people. I can’t say it surprises me, though.

    And I’m not completely anti-WLS. I think it should only be used as a last resort, but there are people and situations where it can either save or vastly improve their life where other methods have failed. I do think there are people who rush into it, but I don’t think anyone, here or anywhere, has any right to judge someone’s decisions about it.

    I do, however, think the current lap-band commercials are gross and offensive. Why is it she can’t go to Paris with her husband until after the surgery? I flew to fucking China at 300-ish pounds, yeah the seats were uncomfortable but after 14 hours everyone was miserable, even skinny people (o!m!g! skinny people can be miserabe and uncomfortable too! lol).

  106. Over and over I consider having my breasts reduced. The only reason I don’t is because I’m TERRIFIED of surgery. (Last surgery I has was a “low risk” outpatient surgery after which I developed an infection that nearly killed me.) Cosmetic/social reasons have little to do with my reasons to consider breast reduction. I wear an H cup and have scoliosis. I have chronic upper and lower back pain as a result. I cannot physically jump up and down. I cannot run. (Sorry to be so blunt here) I have constant uncomfortable or even painful rashes unless I take extremely finicky care of my skin beneath my breasts, and sometimes even then. Clothing that fits properly is almost impossible to find. And certain men with large breast fetishes become obsessed with me to the point where I feel my safety is endangered.
    But I keep coming back to fear of surgery, being a big old wuss about pain, and the amount of time off I’d have to take in my precarious financial situation. *sigh*
    At any rate, I am also fat but would never consider liposuction or tummy tucks. Those are purely cosmetic surgeries done out of body shame. My fat belly causes me no health problems, despite the hype. My double chin being sucked away will not improve my health one bit. A face lift to remove my frowny wrinkle will not improve my life at all. But when your breasts fit a size fully two sizes larger than that of your hips, there are structural issues.

  107. Er, I feel I should point out that I was very well informed of the risks. Loss of sensation in parts of my breasts was not included in the list of risks.

    I also had keloid scarring and refer to my breasts as “frankentits.”

    How weird.

  108. Hi, little late to see this, but hey. I’ve noticed a few posts lately where women (well heck, I don’t read men’s blogs) tell us what they were biting back, and what they actually said… and I’m curious. Have you ever said what you were biting back, just to see what happened?
    I’m not sure it always works, but it strikes me that might make someone think about what they were saying more than avoiding the issue or explaining it in a less confrontational manner. And especially if it’s someone you don’t really know and have no investment in getting along with, why not say what you’re thinking?
    (this is by no means meant to be a telling-off or anything, just curious as to your motives)
    x

  109. One of my friends had breast cancer. She wanted to have it treated without surgery, if possible. There was one doctor in our whole state who would do what is a fairly standard treatment. He wouldn’t let her have the treatment until her partner (NOT her legal husband, not that that would be better) went over all the information with the doctor. in fact, he told John some information that he hadn’t told HER!

    Not ok.

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