During my junior year of college, I decided to look into a breast reduction. For years, I felt my posture was off, my back hurt, and I could barely run for more than a short stretch because my chest would feel so incredibly heavy.
My lungs had to work overtime.So the night I sat down with my parents and had an open conversation about potentially getting a reduction, they surprisingly welcomed the idea, because they knew that for years I had grappled with self-image issues. For the longest time, I had such a hard time trying to explain it to people without being worried I would be judged for my decision. I thought select friends and family were going to wonder why I decided to take away something that other people pay thousands of dollars to achieve. There are women across the globe who spend months planning to surgically achieve the perfect, bigger breasts, but I needed a change.
When I began introducing the idea to my friends, it was uncomfortable. It was like it was unheard of to discuss breasts or female anatomy, which seemed odd considering these were supposed to be my best friends. It took a couple of months, because it was borderline taboo bringing it up, but once I explained that this was going to help me at the end of the day, they began started to get comfortable. Men have (jokingly) said “Why would you want to do that?!” I went along with it, but it still baffled me that there was this idea that because I had larger breasts, I should feel lucky. Situations like this made me feel rather insecure to be open about my decision. But now, today, I want to be able to be completely honest about it, because there are many girls who are definitely in the same situation trying to figure out how to approach this surgery if they feel like it’s a burden.
The days leading up to my Christmas break in 2012, when I would have my surgery, felt like a rollercoaster. There was one night I remember sitting alone in my room, and with no real control, I began crying, unable to breathe. This was when I realized how truly nervous I was to go through with this surgery. This panic before a medical procedure is normal, because thanks to television shows and medical nightmares in the news, I had been exposed to everything that could possibly gone wrong. The only thing wrong in this entire situation was my mindset.When I got home to Springfield, Illinois, where the surgery would take place, my parents had set up my room with plenty of pillows, because I had to sleep on my back. They explained to me that they were going ot make themselves available to me whenever I needed. Having that strong of a support system, as well as that kind of peace of mind right before a surgery really put my worried mind at ease. By the time the day of the procedure came around, I felt I could handle it.
The night I was finished, I was high on pain medications and bandaged stiffly because everything had to stay in place. I specifically remember crying in my wheelchair on the way out of the hospital because it felt so bizarre to not be able to move freely. Sleeping was anything but relaxing, because I had to wake up and call for my parents in the middle of the night to have someone physically lift me out of bed and help me with my medications. Helpless doesn’t even begin to touch on how I felt. I thought that possibly, this wasn’t going to be worth it. I’m a typically independent person, and having to rely on someone for every move I make throughout the day tested me.
For a month, I layered up in scarves and loser-fitting tops in order to cover up my bandages. There was management of pumps and drains in order to prevent infection. My showers were the farthest thing from easy. Forget about having a full night of sleep thanks to medication schedules and bandages. Were there nights where I felt like I had made a huge mistake? Absolutely, it felt like this was a terrible decision. The amount of sleep I lost and the pain I was going through were no walk in the park. Then, there was a fear in the back of my mind that it would not turn out the way I had planned. But through all of that, I ended up feeling fabulous when I saw an old friend after a year and he looked me in the eye and said “you look great, I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but you look incredible.” Coming from someone I had not seen in quite a bit of time, as well as someone I very much respected, that comment made this rough recovery worthwhile.
Not only did my clothes fit differently, but a new mindset comes into play. My insecurity that completely wrapped me cracked away slowly. My dresses in the closet were hard to wear because of how that specific area fit, and now I could flaunt with a brand new necklace falling nicely on your chest.
There are women like Khloe Kardashian (recently defending her photoshopping her legs because of a knee surgery) and Ariel Winter (fellow reduction recipient!) in Hollywood who want younger women to see that these kinds of scars are something to be proud of. Thankfully, I have seen more and more acceptance of this type of surgery. Not only was I able to break the insecurity of the “cosmetic surgery” conversation, but I eventually found my way towards discovering myself. I felt like I could try on different types of outfits, no matter how outlandish it was before. I was able to look in magazines and realize I can wear exactly what I saw.