Straight Talk Advice

Breast implants a lose-lose for insecure girls

Aug 18, 2015

Daughter, 16, begging for breast augmentation

Dear Straight Talk: My 16-year-old daughter has gone through puberty but remains almost completely flat-chested. She gets made fun of and has never dated, believing this to be the reason. (However, her equally flat-chested friend dates, so it’s not the entire problem.) She begs for breast enhancement surgery, saying if I really cared about her I’d do it. However, I worry she’s not fully developed. Plus, it’s very expensive. I also agree with your recent column that early bloomers often have negative sexual experiences, but I cannot convince her she’s better off without one. — Joan, 41, Toledo, Ohio

Moriah 18, Rutland, Vermont Ask me a question

As a “DD” who’s never been in a relationship, boobs are not the problem. Friends who’ve undergone body alterations either became depressed when it didn’t “work”, or when it did, they figured the guy was attracted to the false addition, not them. Real confidence boosters: counseling, changing friends, radical haircut.

Brie 23, London, England Ask me a question

I was made fun of for my “mosquito bites”. But, working lingerie, many customers said their boob jobs were way bigger than they wanted. They could only wear ugly boring lingerie. One customer’s implants began leaking. Essential: she be over 18, not doing it for male attention, and have a good surgeon. There are too many complications. I may get one, but only after I’ve had children as it can prevent breastfeeding.

Kat 19, Eugene, Oregon Ask me a question

Being made fun of at 16 hurts. With the right help toward self-love she can learn from this and bloom into a confident person. Encourage other interests so she thinks beyond her body.

Brandon 23, Mapleton, Maine Ask me a question

Not to sound like a douchebag, but I notice large perky breasts. Most guys do. A boob job won’t just attract losers. That revealed (ahem) — don’t do it. Teenage relationships mostly end in heartbreak anyway, or worst-case, teen pregnancy. Give your daughter a few years. So many plain classmates blossomed into beautiful adults. Plus, who'll pay the upkeep in her twenties? Can you add a $10K silicone bill to her $50K tuition? Let her pay for it when she's done growing.

Justin 18, Brentwood, California Ask me a question

Your daughter shouldn’t get breast enhancements ever. Breast size isn’t the issue. Most teens today find genuine romance by first becoming friends and building off that. She should put aside sexuality and focus on building a relationship. Good guys don’t look for the perfect body, then pursue that woman. They seek out personality and love what their woman has.

Colin 21, Sacramento, California Ask me a question

I used to think sexism had died out following a dark past. Wrong. It’s systemic. The fashion industry is particularly misogynistic. Very rich people are glad your daughter is insecure and work hard to make her spend money on it.

Samantha 23, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

Today’s media is guilty. All I wanted at 16 was to lose five pounds, increase a cup size, put more streaks in my hair, etc. Breast size constantly changes. I went from a B cup to now, pregnant, an E! It's normal that she's not dating yet. With fake breasts, she’ll worry that guys like “them” not her.

Molly 22, Oakland, California Ask me a question

Many friends didn’t fully develop until after high school. Get a properly-fitted bra (see reddit.com/r/abrathatfits), which benefits even small busts. Consider therapy for bullying and self-esteem issues, which surgery won’t solve.

Dear Joan: Your steadfast refusal is the enhancement. I hope the panel convinced you, regardless of whether you convince her. Everyone’s point, including Moriah’s about this being a “lose-lose” is true. Females with breast implants are at triple-risk for suicide and drug/alcohol dependency compared to those without. Spend instead on therapy, yoga, identity-enhancing enrichments, and, not ignoring her vanity needs, flattering clothes and haircut. “The Science of Sexy” stylebook teaches how to sculpt with clothing.

Editor’s Note: Looking back to an earlier column we did on this (NOV 10, 2010), several other panelists noted that they or their friends were not fully developed until after high school. This was true for me and several of my friends as well. Please take a look at that column, too.

I’m against breast enhancements for vanity purposes, believing that overcoming vanity is an important stage of inner development. I’m not being cruel; I can totally see how fixing serious nose, ear or orthodontic issues can change a life positively. But breast enhancement, sticker shock: $5000-$10,000?

Four reasons I just can’t support it: 1) It leaves something foreign and toxic inside you — that can leak, that needs to be routinely (and expensively) checked on medically, and replaced every 10-15 years. 2) It can interfere with successful breastfeeding, with is good for baby and helps prevent cancer in mothers. 3) They look and feel unnatural. 4) Small breasts are considered beautiful. Most Victoria’s Secret models wear A cups, if that. To make my point, that’s a VS model on our column photo (credit, 123rf). (Apparently, their bras really do work, lol, and Molly’s advice and link for proper fit is spot on.)

All that may fall on two deaf body parts. Girls who remain flat-out determined should wait till at least till age 25 when completely out of adolescence (breast size can change a lot, even when you’re not pregnant). Prior to this, I don’t believe a female can choose this “for herself”. (Even after 25, most women get them because they are worried about being attractive.)

That’s why a full psychological screening is so important… and why healthy alternatives make more sense. Can you imagine if a woman devoted $10,000 every decade toward her spiritual, emotional, and physical fitness? She would be radiantly attractive, and confident enough to have little concern with what others thought of her — a huge aspect of attractiveness. If parents want to support something financially, let it be that, while staunchly refusing to foot the bill for vanity breast surgery. —Lauren


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  1. By Carla, age 19, from Irvine, California on 08/18/2015

    16 is way too young for breast augmentation surgery, although I felt differently when I was 16.  I was still almost completely flat chested even though I had gone through puberty.  However, my younger sister who was only 14 was already fully developed.  I was very jealous, especially since she was getting much more attention from guys at that time.  As was discussed in another recent column, I accused her of “showing off” her well developed breasts in front of me and complained to our mom.  However, looking back, I don’t really think she was showing off, but the problem was my insecurity and jealousy.  As sisters, we had never been shy about our nudity in our room that we shared and were pretty casual about it.  I now don’t feel that she was nude or topless in front of me any more than either one of us ever had been.  However, at the time I honestly believed that she was showing off and trying to make me feel bad. 

    I was really mad at our mom for not letting me get breast enhancement surgery, but now I’m really glad.  It turned out that I was just a “late bloomer” and my breasts were completely developed by the time I was 18.  Now that I have read about all of the complications, I am very glad that I did not have it done.  Now that I am more mature, I really don’t think that I would want the surgery even I had remained flat chested.  I also know plenty of flat chested girls who have no trouble getting attention from guys, so there are plenty of guys who do not put major emphasis on this and I don’t think I would be that interested in a guy who considered this a matter of major importance.

    Carla

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  2. By Linda, age , from Lodi, CA on 08/19/2015

    My stepsister is very similar.  She’s not flat chested, but her breasts are somewhat smaller than average.  We share a room every other weekend, so we see each other nude and have never been shy about it, so I see her actual breasts in the flesh.  They are well formed and actually are attractive.  However, she thinks that this is the reason guys aren’t asking her out and wants to have surgery and thinks her mom is really mean because she won’t allow it even though their doctor says she is too young anyway.  She’s also jealous of the fact that I have larger breasts, but she hasn’t accused me of showing off just because I’m not shy about her seeing me nude when we share a room.  I have friends whom I’ve seen nude whose breasts are smaller and less attractive than hers who have boyfriends, but when I try tell her this she just gets mad.  Also, from what I’ve seen, the type of guys who are attracted to a girl just because she has big breasts are not the type of guys that you would want to go out with anyway.

    Linda

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  3. By Mike, age 17, from Carmichael, CA on 08/19/2015

    From a guys perspective, I want to say that a girl’s breast size isn’t nearly the big deal that many girls think it is and I really think that most guys feel the same way.  I don’t think a teenage girl should even consider breast enhancement surgery.  My girlfriend is small busted and I couldn’t care less.  However, she tells me that it is a major deal to some girls and some do go out of their way to show off when they undress together as if it somehow makes them superior.  Also, some big busted girls dress in a way to overexpose their cleavage.  While guys might stare at this, most guys consider this slutty.  Sad to say, my own sister who is well endowed does this and won’t listen to me when I try to tell her how this looks to guys.  She also sometimes walks around topless in just a thong during hot weather to “stay cool” and thinks its funny that I get embarassed.  She says that her breasts are “natural” and nothing to be embarrased about.  Well, my penis is also “natural,” but I would never expose it to her right in her face!

    Mike

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    1. By J.C., age 17, from Redondo Beach, California on 08/19/2015

      I agree with you on all points.  Another point:  girls shouldn’t stuff their bras or wear falsies.  While it’s obviously not as harmful as breast implants, girls who do this are not fooling anybody.  Guys can tell and they just laugh at girls who do this behind their backs.  I also agree that it’s not a major deal if a girl doesn’t have big boobs or even is flat chested. 

      I also agree that a girl shouldn’t expose her breasts to guys.  In my case, it’s my stepsister.  Sometimes when I’m at my dad and stepmom’s for visitations and we’re home alone, she’ll walk around topless and sometimes with nothing on but her thong underwear.  At least she doesn’t walk around totally naked, but this comes about as close as you can get.  Even though she has an attractive body, it doesn’t turn me on.  It just makes me very, very uncomfortable.  And it’s not like she thinks she’s just being “natural”  and there is nothing wrong with it, as she only does it when we’re home alone.  If she thought it was natural she wouldn’t only do it when our parents are gone.  She doesn’t say anything.  She just walks around acting like nothing is wrong.  I’ve tried to ignore it and give no reaction thinking that she would stop if she wasn’t getting a reaction, but this hasn’t worked.  I’ve also thought of talking to my dad and asking him to talk to her mom (my stepmom) about it, but I just don’t know how to raise the subject.

      J.C.

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      1. By M.D., age 17, from Vacville, CA on 08/20/2015

        I totally agree with you about bra stuffing and really wish I could convince my sister.  We share a room so I see her nude and see her breasts every day and there is nothing wrong with them, but she’s totally paranoid that their too small so she stuffs her bra, but it does not look real and just looks stupid but she won’t listen when I try to tell her.  She’s so paranoid she won’t even undress in front of other girls, except for me since I’m her sister and she knows that I won’t put her down.  I’ve tried to tell her that girls don’t check out each other’s breast size when they undress together and put somebody down for having small beasts, but I can’t convince her.

        M.D.

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      2. By Jim, age 17, from Orange, CA on 08/28/2015

        Can I please trade stepsisters with you?  LOL!  No way would my stepsister let me see her big tits in the flesh, but if she wanted to show them to me, no way would I complain!  You don’t know when you have it good.

        Jim

        Reply to this comment

  4. By Christina, age 19, from Monterey Bay, CA on 08/21/2015

    I have a stepsister 4 years older than I am who I shared my room with on visitations every other weekend.  Since we were both girls and sort of like sisters, we were never shy about nudity and nothing changed when she started puberty.  I was totally fascinated with her body when she started getting breasts and pubic hair. I had never even seen a mature female nude before.  Even my own mom hid her body from me and I had never seen her nude, at least since I was old enough to remember.  I was so fascinated with my stepsister’s body that I would sometimes stare at her when she was nude, but when she caught me staring it didn’t bother her at all.  She’d just laugh and ask “what’s so interesting about a girl’s nude body?”  I was especially fascinated with her breasts which were very large when they became fully developed.  She told me that I would have breasts like hers when I got older.  I took it literally, and couldn’t wait until I could have big breasts like hers.  However, I was a late bloomer and when I did develop breasts, they were on the small size.  I was very disappointed even though I wasn’t totally flat chested.  I even felt ashamed when I undressed in front of friends who were better endowed and they saw me nude and saw how small my breasts were.  However, nobody ever said anything or put me down or tried to “show off” their bigger breasts in front of me, so I now realize that it was all just my own insecurity.  When I was 16, I actually wished I could get breast implants, but I knew that my parents couldn’t afford something like that and I doubt they would have paid for them even if they could have afforded them.

    Now that I’m more mature, I am comfortable with my body and having small breasts doesn’t bother me at all, and the guys I have dated do not seem to care at all.  I totally agree that a teenage girl should never get breast implants, and I really don’t think anyone should.

    Christina

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  5. By Joyce, age 42, from Oregon, Ohio on 08/22/2015

    My 17 year old daughter also wants to get breast implants and is very angry with me for not allowing it, even though I have had our family doctor explain to her why she is too young and why it is inadvisable in any event.  The biggest problem is that she is jealous of her 16 year old sister who has larger breasts and is more physically attractive to boys overall.  The girls share a room, so it is unavoidable that they undress in front of each other and see each other nude.  This had never been a problem for them since they were sisters and until recently had been very close and got along very well sharing a room.  However, similar to others who have written, my older daughter now accuses her sister of showing off her larger more attractive breasts and smirking at her smaller breasts when she’s nude, although she admits that her sister has never actually said anything.  My younger daughter denies doing this, and I tend to believe her and think it is my older daughter’s insecurity and jealousy, similar to what Carla writes.  She says that there is nothing wrong with a girl undressing and being nude in front of her own sister in a room that they share and that she is doing nothing different than what she always has done.  I just find it sad that this has caused a rift between them and they are no longer close as they had been until recently and wish I could find a way for my older daughter to get over this.

    Joyce

    Reply to this comment

  6. By Janice, age 43, from Santa Rosa, CA on 08/23/2015

    I had breast plants when I was in my early 20’s and regret it more than anything I have ever done in my entire life!  I therefore strongly recommend against anyone’s doing it, and would certainly not allow it for my teenage daughters.  I had always envied my older sister’s large, very attractive breasts.  She didn’t “show off,” but we shared a room and were comfortable with nudity since we were sisters, so I could not help but see her breasts and was envious since I was nearly (but not totally) flat chested.  She also received much more attention from boys, and I assumed that this was the reason.

    I therefore got breast implants when I was in my early 20’s and was actually stupid enough to take out a large loan that took years to repay.  Men did not flock to me as I stupidly thought they would.  After about 5 years, the implants started leaking which has caused me serious medical issues ever since, and the medical problems made it impossible to breast feed when I later married and had children.  I have been told that the process has improved since I had it done over 20 years ago and now is safer.  That may be true, but from what I have read there still are significant medical risks and from my experience they are simply not worth it.

    I now have 2 teenage daughters who appear to have inherited by small bust.  They aren’t shy about my coming in their room when they are undressed, so I see them nude at times and while there breasts are small just like mine were, they are well formed and there is nothing wrong with them.  They seem comfortable with their bodies and have not indicated that they want anything such as breast implants, so I am certainly not going to put any ideas in their heads, but I certainly would not allow it as long as they are minors and would need my consent.

    Janice

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  7. By Sherry, age 60, from Santa Rosa, CA on 08/23/2015

    First and foremost,  16 is definitely too young for breast implants – both physically and mentally.  As a mother, I would never support that.  This is a very personal choice – the daughter needs to be allowed to grow up and mature and make this decision on her own.  And Mom will be off the hook. If this is a concern for the mother, she may want her daughter to have some blood tests run to check if there may be a hormonal imbalance.  I think that may have been my problem.  There were times during my life that I felt like I needed implants, but never did, which I’m grateful for.  As I became older, it just didn’t matter to me anymore.
    Sherry

    Reply to this comment

  8. By Doug, age 50, from Phoenix, AZ, USA on 08/24/2015

    I remember as a teenage boy having several girlfriends and their breast size was never a factor as to whether I wanted to date them or have a relationship with them. It wasn’t until I was a grown man did I look back at those high school days and even realize some of my girlfriends were more or less endowed. I liked and appreciated the slim athletic girls and the more voluptuous girls too. 

    As a father, I would never be a proponent of a 16 year old having breast augmentation surgery.  After all, at 16 she has barely begun developing and her body will continue to go though more changes and develop for years to come.  My own sister was very modestly developed until she got pregnant with her first child and is now quite large up top. She too wanted breast augmentation as a young woman and is now very happy she never had it done.

    Conversely, my first wife and I got married right out of college.  She had been disappointed for years that her breasts never got any larger than a small A cup.  After our first and second child were born her breasts developed modestly for a while but returned to their original size and she was very depressed.  I loved her no matter what but couldn’t deny the very obvious pain and mental anguish she suffered about her body image. At the age of 27, and after more than a few sessions with a therapist, she came to the decision herself to go under the knife. After her recovery, no one (including myself) could deny the very positive mental and emotional effects she enjoyed as a result of her choice. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that my wife was well beyond puberty, indeed a grown woman and had given birth not once, but twice.

    Back to high school…I dated one girl (I’ll call her Susan) on and off for a considerable amount of time.  I was crazy about her but I remember her being so very flat chested all through our Freshman through Junior years of high school. She was teased relentlessly at times and some of the less sophisticated boys and girls even joked at her expense by asking if she was a boy or a girl. It horrified and embarrassed both of us. Then came the summer before our Senior year and her breasts came in with a vengeance. By the end of school, she was talking to her parents about having breast reduction surgery before going off to college.  A lot of change can happen even in a girl’s later teens and into her 20’s.

    I hope your daughter will find a way to value herself beyond her physical appearance but, I am not so far out of touch that I do not realize that kids can indeed be just the least bit mean at times. Still, there are quality boys and young men out there who will undoubtedly be attracted to her and will see beyond her breasts.  As I mentioned, I didn’t even think about boobs until I was considerably older.  If however, as she grows into a young woman, she decides to have the procedure done, please give her your support and understanding. After all, it is her body and she has to find peace with it and accept it.

    Reply to this comment

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