Sunday, January 24, 2010


Yup. That's actually what I want to write about this morning. Some people go to church on Sunday mornings, but I sip coffee and ponder upon such things as breast augmentation while listening to music (over the background noise which consists of little girl giggles and occasional arguments over whose turn it is on the wii - yes we are a house full of heathens). I've actually been wanting to write about this subject matter for a little while, but the discovery of a magazine article that outlined the history of this form of female mutilation engorged my desire to take to the keyboard(pun intended).

I should start by admitting that I am a small-busted woman. Making peace with this reality is a struggle - I won't lie. I'm just over 5'8", big-boned, and athletically built (when I'm at my best). Having a small bust has never felt very proportionate, but it is how I've been made and I'm committed to learning to love my own unique form. This is quite the task when we live in a world that has constructed an illusory ideal female form and named it beauty. What we have claimed as beauty is actually not even real. It's fake. It's unattainable in actuality. It requires face and body paint, hair extensions, starvation, injections, multiple surgeries and an airbrush to achieve.

I was recently spending some time with a couple of girlfriends and we stumbled right into a discussion on breast augmentation. One of my friends confessed that after she was finished bearing and nursing children that she was planning on having at least a lift, but that she would also consider just going slightly larger in size. This was coming out of the mouth of a petite and lean woman who naturally fills a size C cup easily. I read today that this is the longing of 70% of all women (assuming Allure magazine's statistics are accurate). This particular conversation carried a tone of casualness that made it difficult for me to offer my own thoughts on the matter. But the conversation has replayed over and over again in my mind in the past month. The tale of Hollywood's latest plastic surgery poster child, Heidi Montag, has equally implanted itself into my mind.

So I've taken to this space to say what I wish I would have said in that conversation. I'm so saddened by how this mythyical picture of beauty has robbed men and women from experiencing and identifying true beauty. Are we so blinded by the lies that we're bombarded with daily that we can no longer recognize how distorted our understanding of beauty is? We call what occurs to a woman's body after she has birthed and nurtured the life of another UGLY or DEFORMED. I have nursed three babies - I know personally what happens to a woman's body afterwards. I struggle to look into the mirror and declare BEAUTY where beauty is not seen in this world. I struggle because I don't feel the truth at all times. But I refuse to live my life in honor of the lie. I refuse to give into the distortion on behalf of myself and on behalf of my three beautiful daughters. I want them to know always that how they were created inside and outside is a gift to this world. I want them to know that their mother embraces the ways in which her body has evolved as a result of bringing them into this world - they are the marks of a life truly lived! I can only hope that I continue to wrestle the lies as I encounter them through the natural process of aging.

But even as I feel the tears well up as I'm typing so passionately about this subject, I'm aware of the ways in which I succumb to the cultural construction of feminine beauty nearly every day of my life. I will likely shave and pluck hair that grows in various places on my female body and paint my face before walking out the door today. I too am a part of the perpetuation of these myths. We all are.


laurie said...

Ah, Shauna. I couldn't agree with you more. I think about these things as I face the reality of my own body each day.

I recently decided to stop (at least temporarily) shaving my legs - not to prove a point or make a statement but to face a part of myself that I have tried to eliminate since I was 12! Initially, I was sad and disappointed with myself for the shame I felt about my hairy legs, but it was even harder when those around me (even those closest to me) described my hairy legs as "weird" and more than any other word "disgusting"!

How the hell are we supposed to accept - much less ENJOY - our bodies when the constant message is that it's weird or DISGUSTING?! Aaahhhh - it makes me feel crazy!

p.s. I have some feelings about this. :)
p.p.s. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in this.

The Journey Unknown said...

Laurie, I am in awe of your courage. Thank you for sharing your attempts at dispelling these destructive myths!