Blagrove detailed her breast reduction for Huffington Post and later for XO Jane. But what shocked her the most about the procedure wasn't the process of going under the knife. It wasn't the struggle to find a good doctor or the pain of recovery. It was the men who told her she shouldn't have done it.
Thankfully, my story received much more love than negativity. What was alarming though was the number of men who have contacted me personally (one even finding out my phone number -- scary) to express how my decision to get a breast reduction affected them. Apparently, I insulted the boner.
As a fellow sister with large breasts, I know exactly what Blagrove is talking about. I was lucky that my chest didn't develop until I was about 15 (Blagrove was nine), but the harassment and comments from men were the same. Everyone assumes that because you have a large rack, you are up for sex. All the time. A friend's father once met me and after I left told her he "never trusts a woman with large breasts." Women are envious and men are sleazy.
Other friends with large chests tell similar tales. Women who mocked them and made passive aggressive comments. Men who challenged their intelligence, but still tried to feel them up. "Accidental" brushes against the boobs and sexual harassment galore.
And, of course, that's to say nothing of the health issues. Back pain. Discomfort. The impossibility of finding a sports bra that fits well. And button-down shirts? Well that's just a pipe dream. It's no wonder women want them reduced. But then there is the backlash.
In high school, I considered a reduction, too. I was sick of not having what other women have — bikini tops that fit, the ability to run fast and far without black eyes — and so I looked into the procedure. My father was appalled.
"Why would you want to do that?"
His objection was more to the surgery itself, but my boyfriend was appalled for different reasons. "Um, no," he said. And my husband has told me on more than one occasion he's very glad I never did it. These are smart men, men I love and men I would even call feminists. And yet all of them couldn't understand why I'd "alter" my body. There is a reason breast reduction is considered medical and not cosmetic. But tell that to a man and you will get an earful. As my husband likes to say: "Any man who says he isn't a boob man is just a man whose wife has small breasts."
It's going to take a long time to convince men that our bodies are our own and that we don't exist for their pleasure only. Until then, I applaud women like Blagrove who have the courage and the means to do what they need to do for their own body and sanity.
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