Sunday, April 26, 2009


5 days overdue.

Sunshine has been replaced by rain and humidity. Somehow I still managed to wake up with a dry, hacking cough. I blame the fan, which oscillates in a full circle around our bed, and dries everything out including my throat. Hack hack.

What shall I write about today? Well the thing on my mind today is boobs. Yes, boobs. Last night I watched the very underrated comedy starring David Schwimmer called "Breast Men" which is the story of the men who invented the silicone breast implant. The story is interesting on a twofold level:

Firstly, because the fact that several generations of women (when they have adequate funds) see nothing bizarre about stuffing their breasts full of sacks of fluid. If you are one of those women, one really only has to watch a breast implantation surgery to make it alien. If the incisions are made in the crease where the breast hangs, the surgeon stuffs his hands in there, separating muscle from rib, then cramming the gelatinous pod inside. If it is an armpit or belly button insertion, the empty implant is rolled up in a tube and once at its desired location, inflated like a life raft. One of the main issues post-surgery is the hardening of the breasts, where the body recognizes the foreign object and begins to wrap scar tissue around it. This can be alleviated by massage.

Secondly, the story is interesting because the silicone scare in the 90s was nothing more than hysteria. To this day there is no medical evidence that silicone in the body causes auto-immune disorders or any kind of sickness. Silicone is still used in a number of medical procedures, cosmetic (facial implants, most notably) and otherwise (pacemakers, for example). However, the claims that women were immobilized by those beacons of power -- full, voluptuous bust lines -- were too interesting to ignore. It was sexy and tragic. It represented so many archetypes: Narcissus at the river; the mutilated prostitute; even the forbidden apple of original sin. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were awarded to women who claimed they were victims of silicone. For a while silicone breast implants were inexplicably illegal. Now, if you want silicone you need to get saline first and then the doctor will change it up for you after. If you peruse cosmetic surgery forums, there are women who plan to do just that: they undergo expensive surgery with the full intent of them being 'starter breasts', waiting to get the more lifelike feel of silicone.

I feel like this has all been too condemnatory. I'm not opposed to breast implants at all. In fact, I think along with rainbow colored hair, piercings and tattoos, breast implantation is just another side of the multifaceted aesthetic of womankind these days. If all people were gung-ho about the appearance of altered breasts, I would be more concerned. The fact of the matter is, it's just a different kind of breast which tells a different story. Frankly, I think that's glorious to have as an option.

Breasts are on my mind, unremarkably, due to that movie, as well as the idea of breastfeeding. Our culture doesn't really explicitly prepare women for the transition of breasts from being sexual to functional in any way. I can see why after pregnancy, when they no longer look the same, women line up at the door to re-inflate. Instead, I hope to look at the whole activity the same as my stretch marks -- when they first arrived I was devastated. Now I see them as a testament to the journey that me, my husband and my son have all gone through together. I hope that I will have the same strength and joyous association with my whole body.

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