When I got my silicone breast implants I have to honestly confess I’d not thought about how, or if, me getting them might impact my children. Neither negatively, nor positively. I was told they were ‘safe’ and would sit inertly in my body for the rest of my life. I didn’t consider anything beyond that.
In retrospect it was naive and ill-thought-out.
My youngest, a daughter, was 4 years old. The other three kids, two sons and a daughter, were a tween and two teenagers.
It would take nearly 22 years before I was struck by what felt like a complete lapse in judgement. I suddenly became painfully aware my children had not been unaffected. I realized they’d had to internalize and process their feelings on their own.
Growing up, the not-at-all-subtle message of media imaging, and that of their own mother who’s fake breasts sat as neon sign ‘events’ on top of my chest, created confusion and self-esteem issues.
What was the message of my breast implants to them?
– Did they feel having large breasts defined what it means to be a ‘woman’? After all, most women in magazines, on TV, and in movies and videos had breast implants, and I mirrored and reinforced that message.
– That I wasn’t ‘enough’ without breast implants? I’d rejected my breasts that had changed through pregnancy and nursing, trading them for plastic sacs.
– That they can’t be enough without them either? If my real breasts weren’t enough for me, how could their breasts be enough?
– Were they embarrassed by me having breast implants? Did their friends tease them about it?
The thing is that I didn’t have conversations with them about it. I should have. I likely would have had them removed long before I did if we’d talked about their experience of me having them. We didn’t have those conversations until my implants were removed, and it was heartbreaking to hear what it had been like for them.
Besides the message that me having breast implants gave them, another aspect I didn’t consider of their experience (of a mother with plastic breasts) was what hugs would feel like. My heart broke when I realized after getting implants that I couldn’t feel my children against my heart anymore. My heart broke even more hearing what it had been like for them. Their experience of hugging me was a barrier of two cold, impersonal ‘beachballs’ between us.
I wish I’d understood the impact of me having breast implants would have on my children.