Breasts, Body Shaming, Bullying, and Body Image- Part Three

I’ll be honest and tell you that I have not wanted to finish this series.  I contemplated deleting the other two posts and not revisiting this subject again.  And I still might do that.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever posted about (and without a doubt my least favorite posts) because it it is such a personal topic.  But I happen to think it’s also a very important topic and so I’m going to try to finish this up.  I had hoped to finish with one final post but due to the length, it’s going to have to be in two more parts.  If you need to catch up, you can read Part One here and Part Two here.

When I was going through perimenopause, I started having irregular heartbeats.  They were very noticeable and very scary.  Sometimes, I’d get a facial flushing with them and just get a very odd sensation.  I would sometimes get long runs of them where I’d think they would never go away.  Sometimes it would just be a few irregular beats and that was that.  Twice, with the long runs, I went running to the ER because they were so darn scary.

Emergency room

EKG

I saw my primary care doctor and he had me wear a monitor for a few days which showed premature ventricular contractions.   The entire time I wore the monitor, I never felt long runs of the irregular heartbeats (isn’t that how it usually goes)?  I was referred to a cardiologist. 

I was given an EKG before the cardiologist came into the exam room.  Then the doctor came in to talk to me.  He was an older doctor and I had heard only three things about him.  I heard he was a very quiet sort of an individual, he was at the brink of retirement, and he was an excellent cardiologist with lots of experience.  This doctor made it clear to me that he was much more concerned with the size of my breasts than he was my premature ventricular contractions.  He listened to my heart, and then holding his stethoscope, crossed his arms.

photo-1532938911079-1b06ac7ceec7 (1)

“Let me ask you something,” he said. And then he hesitated for just a minute before pointing to my chest and saying, “Have you EVER considered having a reduction?”  I was a little taken aback from his statement since I was there for irregular heartbeats and not my breast size.  He told me I had to be just miserable being the size I was and that I would sure benefit from a reduction.  I told him yes, I had considered the surgery and in fact I had been to a cosmetic surgeon for a consultation.  He then said, “WELL MY GOD GIRL, WHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD ONE YET?!”  I told him about my sister’s surgery and how I knew this was no easy surgery, and discussed my fears and reasons for waiting.  Then he shook his head like he was in total disbelief and totally disgusted that I was walking around on this earth with such large breasts.  He spent the next five minutes basically telling me that I was an idiot for not having the surgery.  At that point, I changed the subject to my heart palpitations and fought back tears.

I can’t begin to tell you what a total freak this man made me feel like.  He was very condescending.  I understood his concerns but I think he could have expressed those concerns to me in a kinder and more professional way.  I left his office that day and was in tears before ever getting to the car and I think I cried most of the 45 minute drive home.

I had heard good things about the first cosmetic surgeon I saw for a breast reduction consultation.  A few days before my appointment, his office called to remind me of my appointment, and I was told if I wanted to, I could park in the back (there was an alleyway in the back of the clinic) and use the back door instead of the front door.  I thought that was very odd.  It was as if what I was doing was shameful (and therefore I could sneak in the back door).  I remember sitting in his waiting room and thinking everyone looked very plastic to me that day, like no one was real.  I wanted to run out the door.  Even his staff all looked plastic.  I was taken to an exam room where they gave me photo albums to look at of actual patients who had been through breast reductions. The pictures were all too perfect with not a breast scar in sight.  I felt like I was viewing a playboy magazine instead of post op breast reduction patients and I told my doctor that later.  I was turned off.   I wanted the truth and I wanted nothing sugar-coated.  When the doc came in, we talked about why I wanted the surgery and then he examined me and did every kind of measurement of a breast that can be done.  He told me I didn’t need to worry about getting approved for insurance, that I would most definitely be approved.  I was.  I won’t go into details about the rest of the visit, but I didn’t feel like this doctor was a good fit for me.  I knew when I left there that he would not be doing my surgery.  The scheduler tried very hard to get me to schedule surgery before I left.  I didn’t.  I would be looking for another doctor.  I put off finding another surgeon and started having second thoughts.

In the meantime, one Friday night, I went to a high school football game.  I was walking to the visitor’s side and looking for the friends I was to meet there and I passed some teenagers who began staring at my chest.  They started laughing and pointing at my chest and then laughing some more.  Then one of the teenage girls walked right up to me, stood in front of me and pointed her finger right at my chest, looked at her friends with her mouth gaping open, and then laughed loudly in my face.  When she passed, she screamed, “Can you believe that?” I couldn’t believe how rude she was and how embarrassed I felt.  I think I spent the remainder of the night with my arms crossed.  I couldn’t wait to get home.  I still remember the rust colored shirt I had on that night with a round  beaded neck.  I never could wear that shirt again.  I knew after that night that I was most definitely going through with a reduction.  I remember having an appointment with my primary care doctor not long after that football game.  I told him what had happened, that I had been made to feel like some circus sideshow freak, and that I wanted a reduction.  He said, “Gail, you know teenagers can be so rude sometimes!”  I commented that I knew that but still, it bothered me.  He told me his mother would have beat his behind had she ever found out he did something like that to another human being.  I said, “yeah, mine too.”  My doctor advised me not to have the surgery until GAIL was ready, not because some rude teenagers had acted disrespectful to me.  It was good, sound advice but I left that appointment knowing I was ready and there would be no turning back.

Not long after that football game, I was walking into a Hallmark Store and I passed a couple walking in the opposite direction.  I’m guessing they were in their mid to late 20s.  I saw the woman stare at my chest with widened eyes and when I passed they both laughed aloud and then I heard her say, “Yeah…. like THOSE were real!”  It took all I had not to run back after them and prove to her that they were real.  That interaction was the final straw.  If I could have gone out the next day and had a breast reduction, I would  have.

I had spent my entire life hating my breasts and trying to hide them.  I was tired of not being able to find shirts and tops to fit.  I was tired of feeling like a freak.  I was tired of not being able to find a bathing suit that fit or that I wasn’t embarrassed to be seen in.  I was now tired of being shamed in public.  I was tired of being uncomfortable.  Sleeping at night was growing increasingly hard.  When I laid on my side one breast would get crushed by the other so I’d turn over on the other side only to have the same thing happen to the other breast.  Or my arm would go to sleep by the weight of my breast on it.  I couldn’t run.  I was tired of Dolly Parton jokes and Hooters jokes.  I had learned adults could be just as cruel as teenagers.  When certain people learned I was breastfeeding, they made comments that I was going to smother my babies or drown them.  Yes, I understood that they were only trying to be funny.  But their comments stung.

I was terrified to have this surgery but by golly, I was going through with it.

To be continued…

Gail 

About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
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11 Responses to Breasts, Body Shaming, Bullying, and Body Image- Part Three

  1. KC says:

    Okay, Okay…I haven’t read the previous two posts but the first sentence of this one intrigues me so …PLEASE …. don’t delete them. It looks like a lot of time and effort: if it was HARD to write then it is always worth keeping.

    • Gail says:

      Thank you KC. I appreciate your comment very much. I tend to agree with you but man, I’ve never struggled so much to make myself finish this. Been trying to wrap this up since October and just couldn’t do it.

  2. KC says:

    One down, two to go.
    I have SO MUCH I could say to you write now but…I think you’ve inspired me to write a post instead.
    More to come…meanwhile – thank you for writing this even though it’s difficult because you never know who/how many women/girls you will help by coming out with your story. I hope you finish it.

    • Gail says:

      You are very kind and you’ve motivated me to finish this TODAY! Thank you! When I started this series, I didn’t intend for it to end up all about my breasts (I really didn’t!). And I AM hoping it will help someone somewhere or even send a message to would be bullies.

      • KC says:

        I think you’ve done a great job with this (just finished #One) and hopefully it’s therapeutic for you. Body shaming women has come to the forefront of many of society’s problems so it’s a good time to get this off-your-chest (pun not intended but not deleted either). I have never considered large breasted women have been bullied but, of coarse the have!, it’s just never occurred to me so your story has value – an eye opener to just how mean people can be. Again…thanks.

      • Gail says:

        Thank YOU for taking the time to read this and for leaving such a thoughtful comment.

  3. You are so very brave Gail. I admire you for it. Please don’t leave this unfinished or delete them. Not only are you helping women everywhere who have been shamed for being unique, but it’s possible you’re making people think twice about saying something demeaning to another person. No matter how unintentional those words may be.

    • Gail says:

      Thank you. I hope my words, as difficult as they have been to write, will help other women. We sure need more kindness in our world and less bullying, don’t we?. Sometimes, it is just unbelievable to me how cruel people can be. Thank you for reading these very long posts!

  4. Thank you for writing these, and please keep going. As I was reading I kept thinking about my daughter and niece and wondering how much bullying they had to endure. My niece recently had surgery herself. People can certainly be cruel and I hope that after reading your posts we’ll be at least more aware and mindful of what it’s like on the other side.

    • Gail says:

      Thank you Marissa. I plan to finish up with one final post today. I hope your niece’s surgery went well and that she will be happy with her results.

  5. Pingback: Breasts, Body Shaming, Bullying, and Body Image- Part Four | Moonlight Reflections

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