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Diary of a breast reduction

Earlier this month, figures from lingerie suppliers indicated that average bra cup size of Australian women has increase threefold since the 1950s. Up to 40 per cent of Australian woman now wear bras with cup sizes of DD and higher, and bra companies are beginning to introduce sizes as high as K.

Here, blogger Jo Hartley writes about the difficulties associated with large breasts, and her eventual decision to undergo a reduction. 

So let’s talk about boobs.  A topic that everyone can relate to, right?  After all, the majority of men love to ogle them and, as often as possible (or, rather should I say, as often as is allowed), like to cop a feel of them.  And women are blessed with them whether they like it or not!

Naturally, when it comes to boobs, we all know that they come in all manner of shapes and sizes and most women are generally pretty upfront (no pun intended) in talking about their bouncing (or in some cases, not so bouncing) babies.  While some women express complete satisfaction at the pair that nature has kindly blessed them with, others will roll their eyes in exasperation at the mere mention of their boobs, citing them as nothing more than an ongoing burden or issue for one reason or another.  The latter of these 2 camps being the one in which I have to set up my tent I have to say.

Now, don’t get me wrong, to a certain degree, I think boobs are great and there is definitely nothing more attractive than a woman with curves in all the right places.  As is there nothing more natural and nurturing than seeing a Mother feed her child from her breasts. But, when you are the one sat in the changing rooms of school at the age of 13 with a pair of double Ds that are desperately trying to make a break for freedom from your bra, those images are far from your mind and even further from the reality of your world at that time.

Since those long ago days when the hormones kicked in and my boobs started taking out a postcode of their own, I established something of a hate / hate relationship with them.  Whilst other girls would be wishing for their itty bitties to grow, I would be willing mine to stop!  Whilst other girls would come to school in almost see through shirts and ‘secretly’ announce (in their loudest voice and within earshot of the hot guys) that, ‘yes it is true! I am wearing a bra’, I would be sat in the corner sweltering in the midday sun refusing to take my jumper off for fear of a health and safety warning being issued.  Whilst other girls went shopping for pretty bras with lace and flowers, I headed to the Department stores where I could choose something pretty….pretty that is if you were 90 and blind!!

And, of course that was really just the beginning as the hormones kicked in for the boys and I quickly became christened with the nickname ‘Jugs’.  A name that not only stuck relatively quickly but, sadly, accompanied me through high school and even followed me as far as college. 

By the time I was 18 it would be fair to say that I was well and truly over my boobs.  I hated the fact that every time I walked into a room my boobs were, quite literally, the first things everyone would see and comment on.  I hated the fact that I couldn’t wear any kind of underwear, other than that which offered almost industrial scaffolding for support, and I hated the fact that I couldn’t wear nice clothes and instead spent my days trying to cover up my assets!  But, more than anything, I hated the fact that it was affecting my confidence so much on a daily basis and, no matter how much I may have looked unperturbed, the comments, sniggers and constant commentary that others unleashed on me was slowly tearing me up inside.  It was at that point that I decided to have a breast reduction.

Unlike today, breast reductions back then were not really commonplace and certainly not something that you heard of all that often. There wasn’t really that much information out there available and it was not the kind of thing that you would ever see on TV. Therefore, I went into the surgery pretty blind really, with the only image I really cared about being the one that saw me skipping from the hospital with a pert and perfect pair of C cup boobs, happily bouncing in their pretty and lacy bra.

Needless to say, the reality was somewhat different of course.  A breast reduction is a major operation and the pain that I experienced when I woke up following 6 hours of a surgeon removing my nipples, pummelling my innards, discarding a large amount of my breast tissue, restoring my nipples to their new rightful home, and then sewing me back up, was immense.  I could hardly move for 2 days and, despite being on a myriad of painkillers on the day I was discharged, there was definitely no skipping to be done.  Nor was there any lacy underwear in sight.  Instead, I emerged from the hospital wheelchair-bound, looking like I had almost just met with my maker, and sporting enough bandages underneath a padded and bloodied sports bra to justify an audience for a new horror flick.

All up, my recovery took about 6 weeks, during which time I had to rely on my Mum to wash me and my hair, my dad to drive me around, and my sister to make me cups of tea (though I may have milked this last one longer than necessary!).  The bruising across my boobs was every colour of the rainbow and the follow up appointments with the Doctors felt somewhat akin to being a human pin cushion.  But, was it all worth it in the end, you ask? You bet it was!

For the first time in years I was able to wear nice bras, swimsuits and tight tops.  I was able to jog without pain and I was able to walk with confidence.  I was able to have a conversation with men whereby they maintained eye contact with me rather than my chest and, above all, I was able to know that people might actually judge me for me for once….rather than my boobs. 

Jo Hartley is a mummy, freelance writer and blogger living in Sydney. When not writing, Jo enjoys eating chocolate, thinking about dieting, eating ice cream, pondering gym memberships and drinking alcohol. You can check out her blog here or follow her on Twitter at @hartley_jo

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