I recently stumbled upon a picture of "Modern Family" actress Ariel Winter confidently rocking an absolutely stunning black dress on the red carpet at the SAG Awards, and I noticed her visible breast reduction scars.
This brought me back to about six years ago when I made the difficult decision to remove the weight off my chest and have breast reduction surgery.
The physical scars have healed, but the scars of the insane amount of physical and emotional weight I carried all those years will probably never fully heal.
I had no boobs until age 14. In fact, I was so flat-chested that my first boyfriend broke up with me because his older brother told him there were girls out there with bigger cup sizes. We were 11, but it still hurt.
A bigger chest became something I wished for as all my friends were developing melons, and I was still the owner of two flat pancakes on my chest. I will never doubt the saying, “Be careful what you wish for," since I ended up being an 18-year-old woman with a cup size of FFF.
I should preface this with the fact that I am a pretty small person and always have been, so carrying all this weight took a huge physical toll on my body.
I was never overly athletic by any means, but I always enjoyed going straight to the gym after school. I loved the freeing sensation of running on the treadmill and the immense feeling of gaining strength with every set of weights I lifted.
By age 16, I had a cup size of DDD, and I was assigned all kinds of names that immature adolescent boys like to assign young ladies with big breasts.
The most hurtful name I was assigned was “bimbo.” I guess having a big chest and blonde hair made me a bimbo?
I always considered myself to be intelligent, fairly philosophical and much more than a blonde with big boobs. I began to think that if these young men weren’t going to take me seriously, how would a future employer take me seriously?
Was I going to just always be a blonde with big boobs? Should I skip college and try to apply for Hooters?
Luckily, my high school boyfriend was a very respectful and kind young man, and he really supported me through all this bullying.
Eventually, as most high school couples do, by the end of senior year, we grew apart and broke up. For the first time, I was single and had to deal with all of the unwanted attention on my own.
In freshman year of college, I dyed my Barbie blonde hair raven black to try to combat the bimbo stereotype. Truthfully, I loved the look, but I hated all of the Kim Kardashian comparisons. So, I dyed it back to blonde.
My cup size had increased to an astounding FFF, and because of that, I stopped working out. When you have to wear three sports bras and your boobs are still bouncing up and down uncontrollably, you tend to get unmotivated to work out.
After a year of weight gain from not working out, I became completely self-conscious. My parents noticed my unhappiness and asked if I wanted to have a breast reduction, the same surgery both my mother and grandmother had years ago.
I was nervous to do it, but I decided that I deserved to feel confident and happy again. I made the call to schedule a consultation with a local, well-rated plastic surgeon.
After the consultation, which left my chest looking like two dart boards with all of the sharpie markings they wrote on me, I felt confident that having breast reduction surgery was the right choice for me.
Initially, I wanted to go from FFF to an A cup, but after much convincing, the doctor persuaded me to go to a full D cup with a lift.
I scheduled my surgery to be done over spring break of my sophomore year. The surgery itself was painless, and I was under general anesthesia the whole time. So, I obviously don’t have any recollection of the actual surgery.
The nurse told me while they administered the anesthesia I called the surgeon “super gorgeous.”
“Awesome, going in for post-op checkup the next day is going to be fun,” was the thought that ran through my head.
I got home loopy as ever from all of the Vicodin they gave me, but even through my loopy-ness, I looked in the mirror and saw I was finally tiny.
Tears were streaming down my cheeks, but this time, they were tears of joy. I went from wearing an extra large shirt to a small.
I had very minimal discomfort after the surgery. The main discomfort was not being able to lift my arms above my head, which made washing my hair impossible. Luckily, my mom was there to help wash my hair, and we made the best of it, as moms and daughters always do.
Of course, those same asshats who nicknamed me in high school wrote negative comments such as, “Why would you slap God in the face and do this to yourself?” on a selfie I posted of my new, much smaller body.
But because I was truly happy with my decision and had finally reached the level of self-confidence I desired, their comments had zero effect on me.
My life changed completely after having the surgery. I began to fall back in love with the gym and lost all the weight I had gained during the time I was forced into a sedentary lifestyle.
I dyed my hair back to black, and I began to wear cute, lower-cut tops without feeling too revealing and without worrying about being called a bimbo. I got compliments on my big blue eyes rather than my chest size. I began to live without being self-conscious.
Having breast reduction surgery truly changed my life, and I will forever be grateful to my understanding parents and friends for being so encouraging and supportive of my choice to have the surgery.
The physical scars have faded, but as I write this, I am tearing up. It brings back all of the emotional scars of being labeled and of being so painfully uncomfortable in my body.
When the surgeon removed the physical weight from my chest, he unknowingly also removed the emotional weight that I had been carrying in my heart.
Next time you encounter someone who is considering having plastic surgery, try to understand and be supportive of his or her choice. Although that person make look fine the way he or she is to you, you don’t know what inner turmoil someone is going through.
And please, to the men who read this, do not be so quick to call a woman a bimbo because of her appearance, and don’t ask her if she is part of “the big titty committee” or the “itty bitty titty committee."
It may seem like meaningless words to you, and it may give you and your friends a good laugh.
But, I promise you that if a woman is feeling self-conscious, your laughter will come at the expense of her tears. She will remember your words as she uncomfortably looks at herself in the mirror that night.