My Sister’s Boob Job

Words by Michelle Andrews.

As soon we hear mention of boob-jobs, whether in conversations with our friends or within gossip columns of cheap magazines, our minds jump to the trashy porn-star or classless celebrity with huge cans.

The concept of fake boobs screams sex. The girl with the fake tits is gagging for it, and she’s going under the knife for men. She yearns for male attention. The girl with the fake tits is sex hungry, and will stop at nothing until she’s the ideal toy. The girl with the fake boobs is a slut. She’s vacuous and attention-seeking. The girl with the fake boobs is selfish, conceited, and a whore. Right?

My older sister, Claire, underwent breast enhancement surgery in June of 2013.

After years of feeling self-conscious, unwomanly and awkward, my sister decided to take action and change her life. She opened up to her family and friends, spent thousands of her hard-earned dollars, endured painful and invasive surgery, and courageously made the choice to put herself first for once.

Claire is a nurse and student midwife, and has spent the bulk of her adult years tending to pregnant, sick or elderly patients. Every single day, she cares for complete strangers and tirelessly works to comfort and support them in any way possible.

My sister is inspiring. She is educated, she is modest, and if you ask me, she is pretty freaking brilliant.

Us Andrews sisters have never been overly blessed in the chest department, and we were all well aware of this cruel fact growing up. Put it this way, every padded bra ever designed can probably be found in our wardrobes. You see, when you haven’t got much going on upstairs, you tend to learn the tricks-of-the-trade and readily befriend the chicken fillet and bronzing brush. After all, teenaged-years are inelegant and graceless enough without the added strain of flat-chested-ness and your A-cup bra gaping open every time you lean over a table.

Unfortunately, tissues, socks and wearing two bras will only get you so far…

You can control your weight with diet and exercise. You can straighten and dye your unruly hair. You can whiten stained teeth. Brush foundation over acne. Fake tan pale skin. You can do nightly squats and tone that butt. You can’t magically grow boobs.

For some people, breasts are just mammary glands filled with fat and milk. For others, they are closely connected to your sense of gender-identity and self-esteem. Whilst some women are perfectly content with having smaller boobs, this certainly isn’t the case for everyone. Sadly, dissatisfaction with having smaller-than-A-cup boobs was something that plagued my sister on a daily basis.

I remember sitting in our lounge room, Claire 16 and I only 13, watching Avril Lavigne’s music video for ‘Complicated’ when she turned to me and said “If my boobs don’t grow by the time I am 21, I’m getting a boob job” – It was as simple, and as final as that. For anyone, to contemplate a life dominated by crippling low self-esteem is unbearable. It was exactly the same for my sister.

My two sisters and I all played the excruciating waiting game… would we be destined to a life of being nicknamed ‘surfboard’ or ‘mosquito bites’, or were genetics going to do their thing and give us some lady lumps?

Unfortunately for Claire, lady lumps were not had, and so silicone got the call up.

I can joke about this forever, because it is commonly framed as a comical issue, but the truth is this that my sister’s dissatisfaction with her body, most specifically her breast size, was something that was well known within my family for years. There was a dialogue we all shared but never spoke about openly – Claire was incredibly unhappy with how she looked, and this negatively impacted almost every aspect of her life.

For years my sister was so unhappy within her own skin that she struggled with anxiety in almost every social situation.

Images still run through my mind of this time. Vivid images of Claire blinking away tears in a surf shop change-room after finding out that I, three years her junior, required a larger bikini cup size than her. Images of her sobbing on my parent’s bed, crying to my mum about feeling ugly and manly. Images of her underwear drawer, filled with sports bras because regular bras did not fit her. Images of my Dad’s face upon finding out her plans, revealed to him abruptly during half time of a Richmond footy match. Images of her the night before her operation, anxiously fluttering around her room. Images of her in the hospital bed. Of her drain tubes. Of her incisions.

And then, after a week of agony and exhaustion, images of Claire’s excitement, her relief, and ultimately her pride. Images of her buying her first bikini top. Images of her first night out clubbing in a tight dress. Images of her throwing her collection of sports bras in the bin. Images of my older sister, happier than I could have ever imaged pre-cosmetic-surgery.

I’ll be honest, I’m also pretty stoked she went ahead with the surgery for more personal reasons – breast implants (when done well) are both magnificent to look at and abruptly grab on the odd occasion.

I, along with Claire’s close friends, happily enjoy these privileges.

I do still enjoy musing over whether or not [insert shameless celebrity with a sex tape here] has had her boobs done. I will always read articles about botched surgeries performed in cheap Thai clinics. I will continue to watch documentaries about 45 year old mothers funding their boob jobs with donations from sleazy men over the internet. And I will do most of these things with my sister by my side.

However I will do all of these things keeping in mind that for some people, like Claire, cosmetic surgery can positively affect a life. Cosmetic surgery can be entirely for yourself, and not for the satisfaction or desires of others. Everybody has their own insecurities. If it’s your body, and your choice, who cares? If getting your boobs/nose/lips done makes you a happier person, then that’s all that really matters. It doesn’t make you a slut, or a selfish person, it makes you brave.

Getting breast implants was the best choice my sister has made in her 23 years of existence. I completely stand by her, and anyone else who courageously chooses the same path.