Almost a year ago, I made a decision that allowed me to feel empowered, strong, confident and beautiful.
It was a decision years in the making, and it changed my life within a few hours.
I chose to undergo plastic surgery.
Ever since I was 12, I struggled with the burden of large breasts.
It was difficult to participate in sports and exercise, and it was unbearable to stand on my feet for long hours at my various part-time jobs. I had extreme lower-back, shoulder and neck pain.
I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
I always hunched over, believing if I didn’t stand up straight and tall, I could hide my chest.
I hated changing in gym class and going to pool parties with my friends.
I would even get sick at the thought of someone seeing me naked.
When I would come home and take my bra off, I’d find large indentations in my shoulders from the bra straps struggling to hold my chest up and in.
And speaking of bras, finding one that fit me and wasn’t an outrageous amount of money was nearly impossible.
I spent hours with my mother, grandmother and aunt on separate occasions at every high-end retailer, looking for the right bra and going through countless fittings and hundreds of dollars.
When you do find a bra to fit your large breasts, don't expect anything cute, pretty or comfortable.
They're usually plain, solid-colored and have very thick straps for support.
Having large breasts also makes it extremely difficult to find clothes that fit well and make you feel good.
I was forced to wear much bigger sizes, just to accommodate my boobs.
Every shirt would be skin-tight around my chest and hang loosely on the rest of my body.
The worst part of my obnoxious cleavage was all of the negative attention and catcalling that came with it.
If I had a dollar for every time someone in my family told me to pull my shirt up or cover up my boobs, I would be able to pay my tuition in cash.
When a few girls at my high school started getting breast reductions, I felt insane jealousy.
At the time, I didn't have the support or the financial means I needed to have the surgery done. My family said if I lost weight, the problem would take care of itself.
For years, I yo-yo dieted and lost and gained weight along the way.
When I had one of my greatest weight losses, right before my high school senior week trip, I was still wearing one of the biggest bathing suit top sizes Victoria’s Secret had to offer.
The top still didn’t fit, and I was spilling out everywhere during my entire vacation.
The summer before my surgery, I had countless doctor appointments to discuss all of my possible options.
I talked to all my friends and family, and with their support, I scheduled my surgery for the morning of Christmas Eve.
I was finally taking control of my life and my body, and it was empowering.
Christmas Eve morning, my doctor prepped me and reiterated everything he was going to do during surgery. When that was over, I was taken back to the operating room, and my life-changing moment began.
When I woke up from surgery, I cried hysterically for at least 20 minutes straight.
I was groggy, tired and sore. I was also overwhelmed with emotion.
But through all the tears, the only thing I never felt was regret.
Choosing to undergo plastic surgery is a serious decision, and it should not be taken lightly.
It can be a scary, risky process, and it's important to discuss all details with your healthcare provider before making any final decisions.
But when it comes to making these decisions, one of the most important things to remember is this decision is yours.
It's your body, and you're allowed to do what you please with it. Nobody should be able to make that decision for you.
From first-hand experience, I can tell you this decision won’t be easy.
Family members and friends will be concerned about the outcomes, the surgery itself and the health risks associated, but they will ultimately support you if it is something that will positively benefit you.
Some people will make comments to you like, “Getting your breasts reduced is like slapping God in the face,” or “You were blessed.”
I even heard I wouldn't look the same, or I'd be disproportionate.
They never swayed me from my decision, and they shouldn't sway you from yours for reasons other than their concern for your safety.
Being uncomfortable with your body is a horrible way to live.
Since my surgery, I've gained endless amounts of confidence, and my self-esteem has gone through the roof.
I now can wear the clothes I want to, find cute bras that actually fit, walk straight and tall and exercise.
Since healing, I've started working out regularly and eating right. I've lost almost 30 pounds, which makes a big difference on a 5'0" frame.
As my body healed, so did my mentality.
I'm no longer uncomfortable with myself or my body.
I would encourage anyone who is struggling with this problem to look into breast reduction surgery.
If you know anyone who has gone through this, talk to her and get her advice and opinions.
I talked to several women who went through the same thing as me, including my mom. Most of the results were great, but there were also some not-so-great ones.
If it wasn’t for them and the support they gave me, I would've never gone through with the surgery.
So, to those who speak negatively about plastic surgery, just know that for many people, it does much more than just change the way they look.
It changes their lives.