Summary: There is perhaps no procedure more closely associated with plastic surgery than the breast augmentation. And yet, it’s also one of those procedures that is the most misunderstood in the public eye. In the “boob job cliché,” women are seen to pursue larger breasts in order to earn the approval of the men that might otherwise turn away. But that’s not the case. Indeed, according to the women who actually undergo breast augmentation procedures, it’s more about having control over the messages that your body is sending out: messages about youth and vitality and femininity.

boob job cliché

Disavowing the Boob Job Cliché

The human body can be a fascinating piece of biology, especially when you start to consider what aspects of that body are culturally coded to be masculine and feminine. For example, large muscles are socially coded to be “masculine” features even though, in most cases and to most appreciable degrees, women are just as capable of building muscle tissue as men are. Likewise, breast tissue in women is generally seen not only to be a feminine feature, but to be a kind of barometer of femininity—how much of a woman you are, to some, is characterized by how large the breasts are. Of course, this isn’t overt—no one is judging you. Rather, I’m speaking in terms of subtle social cues that are encoded into our interactions with each other: large breasts basically say, I’m young, I’m feminine, I’m confident.

This social encoding helps explain why men find breast tissue to be such a large source of discomfort. After all, if breast tissue is a locus of femininity, then its presence is a threat to any kind of masculinity that male patient wants to create. (Nature, of course, cares little for our conception of masculine and feminine: our bodies are our bodies.) Of course, just because one’s body is a certain size or shape, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

Social Communication Through the Body

Indeed, recognizing the social communication instituted by our bodies helps us understand what motivates many women to undergo breast augmentation procedures in the first place. Indeed, many women between the ages of 20 and 25 seek out breast augmentation procedures because they are lacking breast tissues in the first place, and appear to be relatively flat chested. This can be a considerable source of discomfort, for the reasons mentioned above. Women may feel less feminine, less confident, less young and vital when their bodies aren’t sending those particular messages. Of course, this isn’t true for all women—many women feel spectacular about themselves regardless of body size or breast size.

However, for those who feel discomfort, breast augmentation may be the only way to achieve that confidence and femininity. And for those patients, it works. Those who want breast augmentation and who undergo it report a significant rise in quality of life, confidence, happiness, and so on. This indicates that those younger patients who receive larger breasts are generally happy with the results—they like the way that clothes fit, the way they look in the mirror, the messages that their bodies are sending (not necessarily sending to others—many of these messages are simply sent to our own selves).

Younger and Older Women Breast Augmentation

For older women, the aims might be different. Indeed, as the body ages, it tends to show the accumulated effects of our lives. In the case of breast tissue, this can mean a saggy, “lifeless” look, thanks to gravity and child-rearing. For these women—usually women over thirty—who are pursuing a breast augmentation procedure, the results are usually designed to produce a more youthful look. That is, the results are usually designed to make the patient look as they did back in their heyday. This isn’t terribly uncommon for many plastic surgery procedures, so it shouldn’t be surprising here, either.

Whether patients are looking for breast augmentation in Ridgewood, NJ, or in Los Angeles, CA, it’s likely they’re going to find a wide range of specialties. For older patients, who are looking for a more restorative look, it might be ideal to find a plastic surgeon who specializes in mixing breast augmentation with a breast lift. Indeed, many patients won’t need an augmentation of any kind—a lift will be able to achieve the best results. However, for some, a lift and an augmentation will provide the best results.

Making Your Body Say What You Want it to Say

I suppose the overall point I’m trying to make is that our bodies send certain messages, and those messages can change depending on our lives in that current moment—our age, our mentality, our experiences, and so on. This means that patients who come in at different points in their lives will have different concerns and different desired end results. In other words, the old cliché about “the boob job” is just that: a tired cliché that doesn’t apply to real life. Women aren’t looking to breast augmentation in order to catch the eye of a man.

They’re looking to breast augmentation to be able to send the messages they feel their bodies should be sending: that they’re youthful, vibrant, feminine, and so on. And, of course, we should support the women who are trying to send that message. Because it’s really about having control over what your body says.