It started a few months ago, when a fashion publicist friend revealed that she had her breasts enlarged as a teenager. We've known each other for nearly three years, and I never noticed her cup size, or thought that it may have been surgically enhanced. A beautiful, effortless, native New Yorker, she just doesn't look like the "boob job" type.
For some reason, breast augmentation still carries a stigma, especially in the fashion world. [I just want to address your "for some reason," which I think applies more to some idea of implants being considered "tacky"? Is that it? While I respect all women's decisions to do whatever they want with their bodies, I feel strongly that we all have opportunities to expand the cultural ideals and expectations for how women's bodies should look, as opposed to further narrowing those standards for our sisters and daughters and friends. So this is of course your prerogative, Julie, and carry on with your exploration of it. I hate the game and love all the women in it. ]
As my publicist friend told me after finally admitting that she'd had hers done, "Half the battle is hiding them forever." That sounds ominous, but once I learned that breast implants could actually pass, as hers do, I couldn't stop thinking about them.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the benefits of being curve-free -- running for miles without back pain, going braless, having people look me in the eye -- you get the idea. But I'm still preoccupied by this equation that Cat once wrote about, "a terrible little math problem multiplying and dividing forever in your head that equates rather exactingly your own hotness with the rest of the world's ability to love you." I calculate my cup size and it disrupts the sum.
Sometimes Cat tells me about what she was like at my age, excruciatingly dedicated to improving her appearance, and that she's come to find how miserable this can become when it stands in the way of actually doing things like going to galleries or meeting new people. She's warning me not to let this happen, and it hasn't, but she also still believes being more beautiful can make you happier.
When I told Cat I was considering breast augmentation, she asked that I write a full feature before making a decision. To start my research, I called leading Park Avenue plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Colen. "Dr. Steve" works alongside his wife and daughter, also plastic surgeons, which I love, and he's known as one of New York City's leading surgeons for breasts. Dr. Steve is also an expert in breast reconstruction following cancer surgery.
He told me an incredible story when we first met:
"I was in St. Barts years ago with my family and we were having lunch. I recognized a young lady who was with Demarchelier, and I had operated on her. We were at one of these cooler than can be restaurants where you sit family style. She said hello to me, and we sat down at the same table, and we were talking to Demarchelier about photography. He had just come out with a book, and it's a pretty famous book. On the cover is a model hanging from a tree. He was a little bit arrogant about saying 'I can always tell if someone's had a breast augmentation.' He said, 'In my book, there's not a single girl I photographed who had a breast augmentation.' I did two of the girls in his book."
This is what I want, these perfect Demarchelier-approved breasts. Dr. Steve stresses the importance of choosing a surgeon who understands and shares your aesthetic, so if you don't like subtle results, he's probably not for you. "Plastic surgery is interesting," he says, "because you only think someone's had plastic surgery when it's been done poorly."
The following week, I went to Colen MD for an informational appointment and brought Cat along with me (she was getting her own consultation for a non-invasive CoolSculpting procedure -- stay tuned for that story). There are a lot of factors to consider before surgery, and we talked about some of the most important ones.
Should I choose silicone or saline?
Incisions: What are my options?
Implant placement: Under the muscle or over?
What should I expect after surgery?
After my appointment, I think of Dawn, the executive assistant at SAY Media (the company that owns xoJane). She's tall, confident and funny as hell. Dawn recently underwent a mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, which really puts my vanity in perspective.
When I see her in the office kitchen, she talks openly about her recovery and new boobs, which are currently without nipples. "I want Swarovski ones," she says. "Or diamond nipples. Not these horrible stickies that you pop on the bedside table and put back on in the morning!" Needless to say, Dawn is incredible.
I'm still considering the surgery, but I haven't decided yet. Cost is a huge factor, and I'm not willing to use Care Credit to finance the procedure, but it's an option for those who are. Here's where I ask for your input.
What do you think of breast implants, or cosmetic surgery in general? If you have them, I want to hear about your experience. If you hate them, tell me about that too. Let's REAL talk.
Choosing a trustworthy plastic surgeon is hard, and sort of scary. We here in the beauty department of xojane.com LOVE and highly recommend Colen MD for almost any procedure you're considering (again, stay tuned for an article from Cat about her own experience with them). You can reach the practice at 212-772-1300 or through their website www.colenmd.com.
Follow Julie and her boobs on Twitter @JR_Schott.