The Breast Decision ~ A Guest Post by Reader Jess Billington…

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In a change to the usual format of things, I'm just going to be featuring a single post today.  Love My Dress reader Jess Billington is a freelance writer based in the South West UK. She blogs about all things romantic at Treatalady.com and is engaged to the fabulous Mr C.  Jess sent me this guest post in recently and it struck such a chord with me.  It didn't seem right to over-shadow the time she had spent writing this with photographs of someone's wedding – and we all like to mix things up a little every once in a while don't we? 

I'd like to encourage you to read and respond to Jess below, she addresses an issue that plays on the minds of us all I'm sure at one time or another {'do I look good enough?'}, and it would be good to see our community respond…

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Standing in Sainsbury's doing my weekly shop I hear a teenage girl tell her mother "I can't have that for dinner; it's over my calorie allowance". Her mother says "ok", and they put the product back. I think this was when I realised just how much body image is affecting us, and the influence it has over the young girls paying attention.

Of course, this girl doesn't have the pressure that we have: to look her best on the most important day of her life. Not yet anyway.

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Let's face it: being a bride is all about looking good isn't it? Images of celebrities combined with terms such as "most important day of your life" and "most beautiful bride ever seen" all add to the pressure. I don't think it's a coincidence that all the bride-to-be's I know are suddenly taking extreme measures to look a certain way, such as drastic diet changes, hiring a personal trainer, and even ordering a special serum which makes hair and nails grow faster in order to prepare for the big day. Even the celebs are joining in with recently wed Abbey Clancy shrinking in front of our eyes and Rochelle from the Saturdays losing a few dress sizes and tweeting about working hard to get her #bridebod.

And it's harmless right? We just want to look our best on our big day.

A term I keep hearing is 'look the best version of you'. Well, unless you are two shades browner with teeth three shades whiter, normally have plastic attached to your fingernails, false lashes, synthetic hair and a push-up bra – then it's not really you is it? 

Now I don't want to come across as judging. Don't think I'm unaffected by it all. I want to look beautiful like everyone else. If there is a magazine with Cheryl's diet tips in there you can bet your bottom dollar that it's coming to the till with me.  Did I recently buy a shampoo because Cheryl was swinging around in an advert with oh-so-shiny hair using the same shampoo?  Maybe.  Have I ever tried a no-carb diet? Perhaps.  But where do we draw the line?

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I've worked out where I draw my line. As I perused the stalls at a local wedding fair in Cornwall recently, I came across a company advertising plastic surgery for your big day. It was a complete candy shop of cosmetic procedures. I discovered I could lose weight on my thighs with the aid of liposuction, have slightly larger, fuller breasts to accentuate the sweetheart neckline on my dress, and have my teeth professionally whitened too. Hell, why not throw in some rhinoplasty!

I felt appalled. I felt angry. Angry at blushing brides, beautiful brides, perfect brides. There is no such thing. Surely we are just buying into some false idea of what we can achieve?

What this really does is make me feel being Jess isn't good enough; that I have to be taller, less curvy, but curvy in the right places, flawless, pore-less, anti-wrinkle, no spots, not too pale, have thicker hair, thinner thighs, longer nails and eyelashes. 

I see this attitude everywhere. It scares me that one day we will be judged on looks alone. Being smart, funny and having zest will just be something to make up for the A cup breasts.  

In the latest issue of Tatler, an article on the subject explains that breast augmentation is the most popular cosmetic procedure in the UK with over 10,000 women opting for breast implants last year. So if boob jobs are so popular why don't I know anybody who has had one? 

Then it happened. Over coffee one day, a friend of mine told me she was getting some. I immediately felt concerned and wanted to rip up the latest Heat magazine in a bid to make her see that she was just trying to conform to an unachievable image.

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Then she explained why she was doing it, and just before I could burn my bra and start a picket line I began to understand a different motivation for surgery.

Charlotte had decided to have her breasts enlarged after having two children. She explained her once C cup breasts, that she had lived with for the past 15+ years, had changed dramatically after pregnancy and extensive breastfeeding. After her second child she felt she was left with very “empty” boobs, similar to when someone loses a vast amount of weight but the skin remains. As I listened to Charlotte talk, I could really see how much it affected her perception of her body and her overall self-confidence. She was finding it difficult to get bras that fit and had to be careful with what she wore as she didn’t want anybody to see her body as it was now. 

Rather than the crazy celebrity idolizing I had initially suspected (after all I have seen Charlotte reading Heat magazine!), I started to understand a different reason for surgery. Charlotte had always had breasts and therefore it felt like she had lost part of her identity, her femininity. Her breasts were the part of her body that had always made her feel sexy. Without them she was a shadow of that woman.

So, I vowed to stand beside Charlotte and support this very personal decision.

I followed her journey. The evening before she drove to Birmingham to have the operation I asked Charlotte if she was scared or nervous. She wasn’t, which is unlike her as she is normally such a worrier. More than anything, she was excited. Charlotte explained that, although she was aware of potential complications, she was so unhappy with her breasts that she felt it was worth it.

After the operation Charlotte felt sore and tired, but even at the most painful stage of recovery she was already so happy and pleased with the results, even early on.

What advice would Charlotte give to anybody else considering the operation?

'Think very hard about everything. You need to weigh up the risks of possible complications, recovery time and pain. I wouldn’t have gone ahead with it unless I was as unhappy as I was with my breasts and I felt my feelings wouldn’t change over time. If you decide to go ahead with it do your research and find a good surgeon. I did this and found a surgeon I trusted which made the whole process a lot less stressful.'

To be honest, I am surprised anyone is still having breast enlargements. The controversy in the early nineties surrounding the safety of silicone implants combined with the January PIP scandal all make me feel anxious about such procedures. I asked Charlotte how this impacted on her decision and she said if anything it made her feel companies would need to work harder to prove their safety in the wake of such damaging PR.

What about a male viewpoint? How do men really feel about implants? Charlotte’s husband was very supportive; although he was concerned about making sure it was what she really wanted. He attended the initial consultation and the actual operation, as well as caring for the children during the recovery period. “If I was a man I would not have found my breasts attractive and am sure my husband felt the same way, although I doubt he would have said it quite so bluntly!” Charlotte quipped.

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So… did she make the breast decision? I guess she made the right choice for her. Charlotte's feelings about her breasts were really affecting her self-esteem, and I could see it was more than just a superficial image issue. Saying that, I would never actively encourage surgery, and certainly not in the wedding industry. 

Television shows such as The Only Way Is Essex, Geordie Shore and The Hills have normalised breast implants. It seems to be all over magazines and television: it’s starting to feel normal to look at women with a size 6 body and ridiculously large breasts for her figure.

It seems celebrities are all doing it, from the obvious and dramatic such as Katie Price and Kerry Katona, to the “did she/didn’t she” Posh Spice debate (ahem, they are looking a little round to be denying it Victoria!). Even the highly coveted, oh-so-natural voluptuous figure of the Kardashian sisters is looking a little bit different in light of a breast enlargement and possible nose operation that’s just been leaked. It’s leaving me feeling a bit like nobody is real anymore. 

The worst thing I’ve seen though is a distasteful American reality TV show recently televised called ‘Bridalplasty’ where normal women compete to win the body of their dreams for their wedding day. Just as Alan Sugar hands out little weekly “treats” to the winning team on The Apprentice, each week a bride-to-be wins a procedure of their choice: liposuction, rhinoplasty, collagen implants, breast enlargements or dental surgery.

I’ve never seen anything like it. I felt repulsed, but also very sad that these women don’t feel comfortable enough to walk down the aisle in their own skin.

Professional Psychotherapist Alex Wedlock explains it is so easy to think “if I was thinner I would be happier…” but would you, really? “Often surgery is a quick fix to a deeply rooted issue and this could be your minds way of telling you that you are unhappy with something else.” That isn’t to say she is against surgery – she explains further “if you have a healthy exploration of an issue and at the end you come out still wanting the procedure, at least you fully understand yourself now and the motivations behind it.” 

After speaking to Alex I realise that quite often we paint pictures of “happy people”, and of course people like Cheryl Cole must be happy because they look so gorgeous. But I am rapidly understanding that this is not the case, and that looking good is one thing, whereas feeling good is another.

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It is even worse as we delve into the psychological issues connected with an event such as a wedding.  A wedding is a creation of a fantasy, and we don’t want to live anything less than the fantasy. Alex warns we can be in danger of losing sight of the important thing: our relationships with our family, our fiance and most importantly ourselves. “Once you start the process of redesigning yourself where do you stop?  What is it that is unacceptable about yourself the way you are?” 

How is it possible that our entire lives have been built around a specific image: that of a Barbie doll? She is just plastic with no soul or personality, and yet we have almost planned our lives around this manufactured ideal. Alex and I reminisce about the old Sindy dolls – we both used to have one: less “glamorous”, less blonde, smaller breasts and not such an exaggerated hourglass shape- perhaps that is why Sindy isn’t a global success – after all, who wants to be the doll with the B cup?

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Sindy Image Source + Barbie Image Source

The one thing Alex says which makes so much sense, and yet feels so new at the same time, is “you can do anything you choose to your body, but it won't necessarily make you emotionally healthier, your wedding day any better or your marriage stronger”.

I feel the magazines should be talking about this sort of thing as a key issue instead of 19 pages of dresses. I often see really interesting articles in magazines debating the breast decision and it’s all very interesting until I turn the page and see the sponsored clinic adverts promoting the latest body enhancement surgery then it all just falls a bit flat really and it’s so uninspiring.  And with the latest inventions such as semi-permanent make-up and the ability to change your eye colour, it has me wondering at what point do we lose sight of ourselves?

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Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign – did it wash?  Image Source

So, although I support Charlotte's reasons, her personal journey and the decision she made, and despite promising myself this article would be a balanced argument, I find myself strongly weighted against surgery.

I worry that in the wedding industry our personal magical day is being massacred by the marketing giants in order to pray on our insecurities and sell us the latest in all we need to feel and look attractive. It doesn’t matter what we do or how much we put on the credit card, they will keep moving the goalposts, because the media is a constant cat and mouse chase of an ideal.

This is why I choose to read (and today, write for) Love My Dress. I find it is one of the only places which celebrates personal choice instead of dictating to the masses.

Will the bridal industry ever go back to being about a romantic union between two people, or will we see more and more cosmetic procedures sneaking in, anti-wrinkle bridal creams, perfecting beauty treatments and major advertising campaigns to help us become the most perfect bride to ever grace the aisle? After all, God forbid a groom might actually recognise the woman he’s marrying!

Jess

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Jess Billington is a freelance writer based in the South West. She blogs about all things romantic at Treatalady.com and is engaged to the fabulous Mr C. Jess is also contactable via Twitter and Facebook.

You might also want to read through our posts categorised under 'body image' and 'laid bare'.

Annabel

Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She has a passion for photography, walking, yoga, nature, and loves to support talented artists and creative businesses. In 2013, she became a published author. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters Eska and Leanora and menagerie of furry hounds. Annabel supports Philip in the running of the family flower farm at at Moonwind Flowers. She is also co-founder of What About Weddings.

45 thoughts on “The Breast Decision ~ A Guest Post by Reader Jess Billington…

  1. I love this post, thanks Jess and Annabel! I think due to the style of photography I shoot, I meet brides that are much more confident and comfortable with how they’ll look; perhaps more so than others. However, I did meet a maid of honour at a wedding recently that had had breast implants after her third child and she made no bones about how happy they’d made her. There was a confidence radiating from her that perhaps she wouldn’t have had.
    Living around TOWIE area {and going to that gym!} I see these surgeries in person every day. Sometimes it’s classy and sometimes it’s just ridiculous.
    A bride looks beautiful because she’s happy with her fiancee-then-husband. That for me is the most important thing about a wedding. The marriage! We shouldn’t get so hung up on the way the dress hangs; it’s for a good dress maker to advise you on what fits your body shape!

  2. Love …… this is brilliant and SO RIGHT. Agree with every word. A wedding is just one day, a marriage is for years …. if you love someone, you love them warts and all x

  3. This is such a well written article and has really made me think. I’m 34 years old and all my life I have never entertained the idea of having surgery, yet I found myself only last night thinking deep on liposuction, botox and the rest. I’m getting married because someone loves me for who I am, not how I could look. Unbelievable how much pressure the media put you under, it’s difficult to be strong enough to ignore it at times – most of the time!
    Great post, and first time I have ever commented!

  4. What a great post! When I got engaged last year I thought I must lose weight. I’m on the larger side of things, and I thought I must be slimmer. I started a diet, but I just couldn’t find the motivation to carry it through. Work was stressful, life was busy, and my fiancé told me that he loves me the way I am and if I want to lose weight I should do only for myself.
    So, here I am, five week away from my wedding day, and I haven’t lost weight. The comments I have had from my future mother-in-law about ‘are you losing wight?’, ‘have you started going to the gym yet?’ did hurt at first. I’ve shrugged them off now. I will be looking fabulous on my wedding day and you know why? Because, according to the man I will be marrying, I have the world’s best smile. And I intend to smile all day long.
    The most important thing about our wedding day is that we’re getting married, witnessed by the people we love.

  5. Excellent post!!!
    I have had friends go through surgery, lose weight, change their looks for the sake of their *big day*, has it gave them longterm happiness, no!
    After we became engaged, I told a friend and the first thing she asked, was how much weight was I planning on losing for the wedding!
    I was rather shocked, but not surprised by this.
    With 287 day’s till I marry my beautiful man, I can honestly say I’m not even thinking about it, I’m more interested in what we’ll be eating at the wedding breakfast!!!
    There is thing’s I think I would like to change, but would I, no.
    I have been called fat and ugly in the past, yes this could have had a lasting affect on me,and in some ways it has. But I think I’m pretty fine just the way I am, and my fianceé seems to like me!
    By biggest concern is protecting my 4yr old daughter from this body concious society. She recently told me she had a *fat tummy and needed to lose weight*! She had overheard her aunty saying this and we have now kindly asked that people be more mindful of what they are saying in front of her.
    Each to their own I say, but I think I’ll keep my wobbly tum and saggy, post-breastfeeding boobs thankyou!
    Really enjoyed reading this post.
    Thankyou
    Em
    X
    Oh and one last thing, I gave up reading glossies 2yrs ago and actually LOST weight, no dieting, I’d just had enough of all the negativity and mixed messages! I did pick up some running shoes started plodding the pavements!, and feel doing this has actually gave me a relatively healthy self image:) I’m still a good size 12/14, slightly wobbly, but oh so happy:)
    X

  6. Thanks Jess – What a great start to my day – reading something that is clearly well thought out and thought provoking.
    I’m getting married in Sep and have certainly felt the pressure – but it is a personal choice to how much we sign up for and how much we don’t- I don’t think there is a ‘right’ combination.
    The mantra ringing in our ears are ‘we are getting married because we love all of each other’ not that bit a little less as it’s a bit flabby. If shedding an extra few pounds on the run up gives you some condfidence, then do it, it has me – but am i signing up for all and sundry, no, because I remember that my fiance proposed to ME and not an ideal and I’m FAR too lazy 🙂
    Surgery and all the reasons for it is so personal – as long as you have good friends and family to debate with you over it then you can make the best choice for you.
    Couldn’t agree more about wedding blogs – Love my Dress gives insight and real life issues as well as delivers on the inspirational – a few others to not name names could learn from it.
    Vic x

  7. I love this post…well done!
    How scary to think that women want to do all this work for their big day! Confidence in yourself on your wedding day (or any other day for that matter) is much more attractive. I didnt lose weight for my day but yes i did get a spray tan! My hair and make up was all very natural, why? because i was confident in myself and in love with the man i was away to marry….
    I actually worry for my daughter when she grows up and decides to marry, i just hope that with my relaxed approach to body image that i can pass on a positive attitude and confidence to her as she grows up.
    I hope your readers remember that beauty is within and a smile can say it all. xx

  8. Really interesting post and something that I find really relevent. I’m 28 years old and have always hated my very large chest. Im very short and spend most of my time trying to find clothes that don’t make me look like Jessica Rabbit (especially difficult dressing for a male dominated work environment when whatever I wear looks too tight, low cut or revealing). I can rarely find clothes that fit me and when I was shopping for my wedding dress, everything I tried on just made me feel either too frumpy and covered up or was too sexy. I have previously looked into breast reductions but just can’t afford it myself, having just bought a house and the NHS advised me that I should wait until I’ve had children and then they would refer me after that, but in the mean time there is nothing I can do about it, and it just makes me miserable.
    It’s nothing to do with magazines or what other people think of me (although it is hurtful when people say things and feel thay they are entitled to comment on my body just because i have a large chest; they wouldn’t behave like that towards someone with a small chest). Its something i want to do for me. I have previously tried to talk to family about this and was given mixed advice. Some people said that i should do it if thats what i wanted, but one very hurtfully said that i shouldn’t do it because then i would have a scar and that “nobody wants to look at a scarred body”. I am trying to accept the fact that this is what i have been given and i should just get on with it and stop complaining, but things are not always that straightforward. I also think that a lot of people dismiss women that have had surgery as having taken an ‘easy’ option but actually a lot of women that go through surgery have made an informed, intelligent decision and it’s not always just because they want to look like somebody they’ve seen in a magazine, its because they believe it will be the best decision for them. I know that my fiance loves me warts and all, but the problem is, I don’t, and I’m the one that has to live with the bits that I don’t love!

  9. Thanks all so much for your comments so far.
    Whilst focussing on breasts and enhancement/reduction, this has really stirred some strong feelings in me.
    It’s funny, I’m 37 years old now and for the first time in my life, I am asking myself ‘do I need botox’….? Is that furrowed brow a bit too much? does it make me happy on photographs?
    Does it make me happy on photographs.
    That’s the thing! I’m quite bloomin’ happy with me and the way I am {all 4 stone more of me since I met my husband for the first time and was literally a self-induced mostly through starving and eating next to nothing teeny tiny version of my current self} until I see a photograph of myself {trust me, I am not the most relaxed person in front of the camera, by ANY shot} but I’m starting to feel the pressure.
    Then I ask myself – what message will this give my children, my two beautiful little girls who I want to grow up with the most positive sense of self and their own body image as can be?
    It’s a tricky one because I sometimes don’t even recognise myself on some photos. I feel I look tired, a little old even {in my head, I look like Brigitte Bardot on waking every day!!}, but if I try botox, where will it end? Will I have it for the rest of my life and look like a bit of plastic fantastic by the time I’m 50? Will I be teased into trying other ‘image enhancing’ techniques? What will be next, the breasts? My thighs? Or will a touch of Botox be just enough – and what if goes wrong and causes disfigurement?!?!?
    I totally, TOTALLY get it when body image becomes such a problem you feel you have no choice – I’m a mother of two, and my body simply isn’t the lithe little thing it used to be when I was a small size 8 with tiny breasts and no bum. These days I’m struggling to find a bra that fits my E cup and my arse doesn’t fit into most of my jeans anymore. But I feel like a woman, I *feel* like me – who cares if the scales notch up a frightful number on the dial? I could, I know, lose some weight and be healthier – a huge project has had me mostly sat on my backside all day with little if any exercise for months now, and I can feel the effects of that. I will loose a little weight once I get active again, but I no longer desire that teeny tiny frame I once had, I love my curves see, they feel like they belong. Gaining them feels like my right of passage from image obsessed pre-married magazine reading clone to proud mum and wife, with a little life experience and a whole lot more confidence. And my husband slaps my backside WAY more now than he ever used to ;))
    Perhaps I’ve just convinced myself I don’t need that Botox afterall.
    Incase you’re interested, I went to a private clinic recently to chat with a consultant about Botox and they actually booked me in. I talked about it with my Husband and would never have gone ahead had he disapproved or expressed any concern. He never really said one way or the other – it was all a bit awkward – apart from one evening when he was in a bit of a mood with me and raised it in a negative light – that was message enough for me to believe he didn’t like the idea. Thus, I never turned up for my first botox session. I think I’ll just have to learn to live with my furrowed brow for a little while yet 🙂
    Loving your mixed and honest replies ladies, thank you for taking the time.
    xXx

  10. Hi Tina,
    Thanks so much for your honest and heartfelt response.
    I honestly do feel that in some cases, surgery can be a wonderful, life-changing thing. It is just my very humble and non-professional/non-medical opinion that if you truly feel you would be happier after surgery, then I think this is something you should pursue – for *you*.
    I’m so sorry you have been subject to hurtful comments about scars – how horribly insensitive and illustrative of such a lack of understanding and empathy.
    I truly believe that with such matters of the heart, you really do need to follow that heart of yours and listen to what your gut is telling you.
    xXx

  11. Hi Linda! 😉
    Thanks for your reply. I think confidence comes to some much easier than it does to others and this can be for a myriad of complex reasons.
    Cosmetic surgery for most is black and white – an unnecessary procedure undertaken to enhance and make you look more appealing. But I think it’s way more complex than that. Reader Tina below is a classic example of someone who would approach surgery for a different kind of reason. In the one regard, I would hate to see a friend suffer emotionally, mentally even, because they are so unhappy with an aspect of their body image – I do understand a Dr would want to examine that – are their feelings towards their self image rational – healthy? When they are proven to be rational and healthy then I think it’s acceptable to pursue surgery and to thus look forward to a happier sense of self and indeed life.
    I do worry for my girls too though. They are so exposed to and bombarded by strong messages about body image from such a wee young age, it’s a tough call being a parent these days and trying to raise children to have a balanced view of themselves. My little girl has even referenced how she looks and said once that her hair isn’t long enough and so she isn’t as pretty as the other girls at school! I try every day without being ‘in your face’ about it to make my eldest Daughter feel good about herself.
    xx

  12. What a great post…I like other women, feel an enormous pressure to look as good as I possibly can, and I myself had a breast augmentation 7 years ago. I had a congenital breast deformity, and HATED my breasts, and this had an extremely negative impact on my life. I was very naive when it came to cosmetic surgery, (only consulting with one surgeon),and for this reason I ended up with an unfavorable cosmetic result – so yes, I still HATE my breasts. As time has passed I have also developed quite bad capsular contracture, and really I need another operation to sort the whole mess out. I cannot however afford to pay for another op at this point in time (and cannot forsee when I will be able to). The whole thing really depresses me; I do feel ‘disfigured’ and as you can imagine this does affect my relationship with my partner.
    I never wanted huge boobs, just ones that were a nice shape and not saggy. I know my partner loves me, but there is always a piece of me that believes he could find someone like me just with better boobs. I don’t like looking at them, so why would he? I remember something a British fashion designer said on a morning TV chat show years ago, and it has always stuck in my brain…’Breasts are the pinnacle of femininity’…
    For my wedding, I have chosen a dress which will not show any boob/cleavage (or lack thereof in my case) and trying on those strapless numbers for which you have to NOT wear a bra was extremely traumatic for me 🙁
    My wedding is in October, and I have joined Slimming World, I had my botox on Tuesday, and I sit here typing having just come back from having my facial thread veins lasered!!! xxx

  13. Hi Annabel,
    Thanks for the advice and again for the thought provoking post- it’s so nice to be able to read something like this article on a wedding blog. Its very difficult trying to explain an issue like this to people, when as you said above cosmetic surgery is so black and white for many. People look at me and see curves and a big chest and think that’s what most woman want, why is she complaining, but what they don’t see is me in tears in a shop changing room because any dress I wear seems to generate upsetting and emabarrassing comments from male colleagues about “the size of her knockers”. I really admire those women who can have the confidence to embrace their body whatever but unfortunatley im just not there yet! Hopefully one day! 🙂

  14. Oh my goodness – wow! I just thought I would stop by LMD and see if anyone had commented on the post, I wasn’t expecting so many comments – thank you so much for taking the time to read it and to share your stories and thank you Annabel for the opportunity – I am about to make a cup of tea and have a proper good read! 🙂
    Jess x

  15. This is a great (and important) article – thank you Jess.
    Whilst I was engaged I got pregnant, and along with feeling absolutely delighted and the happiest I had ever been, there was still a surprising little voice in my head telling me I was going to look like a huge balloon on my wedding day. I know this is a slightly different situation to the one in the article, but I did feel a lot of external pressure to be perfectly slim on our big day.
    Our planned wedding day was going to fall on a date where I would be 6 and a half months pregnant, and despite that niggling worry we decided to go ahead. Family and friends all asked me if I was going to cancel, and wasn’t I worried about looking enormous, but my fiancee was so excited that our little bean was going to be part of the day, and reasssured me that I loooked more beautiful than I ever had done.
    I was conflicted, but I was also determined not to let that negative little voice win – after all, me having a bump (which contained our unborn child) was hardly a big deal compared to marrying the person I loved, and sharing our special day with our families and friends. It was my ego talking, and I was really shocked at how much I worried about what I was going to look like- I didn’t think that superficial stuff bothered me too much. But the pressures you feel as a bride to be are very real.
    I ended up going to a dress designer and got a beautiful bespoke 1930s drop waist dress made, which fitted in perfectly with our 1930s theme, and gave me lots of confidence.
    And on the day….I didn’t think about it once. Not once. And every single person there said how radiantly happy I looked. I can’t emphasise enough that it just doesn’t matter, and everything you’re feeling in the run-up will be swept aside by the huge tidal wave of happiness you feel on the day. None of which has anything to do with what you look like.
    Jessica x

  16. Great questions and a balanced argument posed by Jess here. My friends who have had surgery have far more fundamental issues at their core which mean that whatever procedures they’ve had done appear to me like sticking a plaster over a massive gaping wound. ‘Nice boobs love, but you’re still mentally a mess…’
    I don’t think it’s necessarily just the unrealistic representation of the female form that perpetuates our own low sense of self-worth, but it’s also that very odd concept of everyone you know will be looking at you on your wedding day. We’re not used to that and in this day and age where we are constantly told we must be the best at everything and have the best of everything, it’s easy to slip into the pursuit of some ideal of perfection, as though your family and friends are going to be judging you. They’re not. I promise.
    I have a whole different rant about the reasons why Bridalplasty is the most heinous creation man ever made, but I’ll save that for another time. All I can tell you is that there’s a reason your partner gave you a ring and asked you to marry them and it didn’t come with the condition that you had to reconfigure your entire being to tie the knot.

  17. Have just read all of the comments – thank you Claudia, you’re so right and I guess it depends on why we choose to have the surgery. Like my friend Charlotte, she really wanted it done for a deep rooted issue where I think she truly missed what she had been used to all of her life so I guess every case is different. But yes, as Audrey Hepburn says “I believe happiest girls are the prettiest girls.”
    Thanks Alison, so true! A marriage is for life, not just for Christmas!:)
    Thanks for commenting Sophie, I’m so glad it inspired you to write something. I think we’re all in the same boat really aren’t we? I’ve thought about botox like Annabel – I have one bad frown line I wanted to get rid of but then I think once I take the definition out of my face I could be anybody, it’s so easy to get caught up in it all and lose yourself. The media pressure is intense and so often it’s subconscious, it’s scary!
    Femke – It’s so refreshing to read your comments (although I am startled by how hurtful people’s comments are reading these answers – how awful that people think they can just comment on weight and size of boobs etc!). I tell you what, give me a gorgeous smile over a thinner body any day of the week – you only have to look at Victoria Beckham to know that being thin doesn’t equal happiness. Well done you for ignoring your mother-in-law and accepting yourself, have a wonderful wedding too! 🙂
    Thanks Amy 🙂
    Hi Emma, thanks for commenting – it is shocking that people feel they can ask how much weight you’re planning to lose or call you fat and ugly – I don’t understand other people sometimes! But so glad that you have your head screwed on and rise above it all and I totally understand about your 4 year old; children take everything in so you have to be careful. When I see how much even my little sister (6 years younger) is affected by the media and the pressure for “perfection” it scares me that we will have to fight back to stop our own children being engulfed by it all. Thank you so much for commenting 🙂
    Thanks for the comment Vic, I know exactly what you mean and it’s been a conscious effort for me also not to get swept up in it all but yes it is such a personal decision and it’s down to our reasons for having surgery I guess. With Charlotte her reason was genuinely a heartfelt need to get “her” body back. Whereas with me I feel I just look at too many fake people all day in the magazines and after a while they start to look normal…then I begin to feel I look unusual… And yes, Love My Dress is my favourite blog, once I’m married I think I will still need my fix! lol
    Hi Linda, thanks for taking the time to comment – you are very right when you say “beauty is within and a smile can say it all”. I believe if you can pass on a positive attitude to the whole body issue and teach self confidence to your daughter, it will be the best gift she will ever receive. 🙂
    Hi Tina, I resonate with your reply more than anybody else – during the research for this piece somebody said to me “it’s ok for you to say no to surgery, you’ve got huge boobs!” – I get that all the time because I’m 4 foot 11 yet have DD breasts. My nicknames have ranged from Jessica Rabbit (because I’m called Jessica), Barbara Windsor and Babs to Baps and even Jessica Boobington! I’ve heard endless comments about “my rack” and even had people randomly touching them to see if they are real! It’s because I’m so short that they can look a bit silly on me sometimes. You are so right that people think because you’re larger in the chest it is ok to comment and many male colleagues have made awful comments to me (in my previous job I was the only female manager in a group of ten – in fact, someone even asked if I had slept my way into management because of my body!!) So hurtful that somebody said about nobody wanting to look at a scarred body, it’s your body and you can do what you choose. Charlotte is left with anchor shaped scars on her breasts following this operation but went ahead with it regardless in order to “fit” clothing properly as this is her priority. Totally agree that not everyone has surgery to look like a celebrity and sometimes it is for a much deeper and more genuine reason eg my friend Charlotte or a breast reduction which I decided not to have as I have learned to love them (even though I look ridiculous in roll necks and all of the lovely high neck lace wedding dresses I liked made me look like I had ACTUAL puppies underneath!)
    Thank you Julia 🙂
    Hi Annabel! Thanks once again for allowing me to write about this interesting subject. I know exactly what you mean – it is such a complex issue because so often wanting surgery is stimulated by another deep rooted issue and sometimes people really DO need to have it done. I honestly never thought I would condone it but I could see Charlotte needed it done for less superficial reasons and these have to be taken into consideration. I have been so similar to you – thinking about the maybe’s of botox etc but I found myself whooping when I found out you didn’t go through with it and humming the “sisters are doing it for themselves” tune in happiness that you didn’t go through with it – my reaction tells me all I need to know about whether or not I should do it. It’s bad enough already that I spend so much money on revitalift, DNA, youthful serum etc – marketing hype!
    Thanks Victoria for your comments – it is so interesting how things like “breasts are the pinnacle of femininity” can stay with us – for me, I always thought the gamine-style Kate Moss look was good because with a figure like mine I’m limited to what I can wear and sometimes I would rather wear a t-shirt and leggings than a pencil skirt! So I’ve spent most of my life wanting smaller breasts whereas you’ve wanted larger. I bet you can wear backless dresses and high necked lace tops or cashmere polo necks – not me! It’s weird how we are always on the quest for this perfect unnatainable look and like I said, they are always moving the goalposts – we’ll never achieve it! Although it’s hard, I try and see what my fiance sees: he loves it when I’m having fun, curled up scribbling on the sofa or laughing hysterically in my tracksuit bottoms with my hair in a top knot and then I look at Cheryl Cole who I’ve always thought is stunning – and I think “ah you can keep it Cheryl, life is good without living in a gym or sleeping in false lashes” 🙂
    Jess x

  18. Well done Jess and Annabel for featuring a great article on a great topic. Whether you’re 5″9 and thin or 5″2 and curvy, we all have parts of us we’re not happy with and definitely have parts that other people seem to think we shouldn’t be happy with.
    I’m 5″2 and curvy, too curvy, I could do with losing some weight not just for appearance but for health reasons and I will, my way.
    I got married last Sept, when I told my Mum we had set the date her first response was not congratulations but are you going to lose some weight. How dare she? How dare anyone feel they have the right to dictate what we should look like on our big day. We’re getting married, we have found the one, fallen in love and decided to spend the rest of our lives together because of who we are.
    I was approached at wedding fairs by the cosmetic surgery crowd and felt angry that they had judged me and decided I would want to change how I look. I watched a few episodes of Bridalplasty in complete disbelief and anger especially at the voting off bit when that plastic looking host said something like “One of you will not have the perfect wedding” – I wanted to slap her and the women taking part for letting themselves get caught up in it all.
    I did want to lose some weight for my wedding and tried but to be honest I was so busy in the last few months and so excited that dieting got forgotten. I had the perfect dress, I had my hair and make up done and I felt like a princess and Sam told me I looked gorgeous! I had a wonderful day, I love our wedding photos – there is one of me twirling in my full circle skirt where you can see my knees and they’re not great but even I focus more on the big grin and beautiful dress so it’s in the album.
    Yes there are reasons to have surgery but I personally think there should be a requirement for proper psychiatric consultation or treatment beforehand because changing your body does not always change your brain. Would all of those women/men go through with surgery if they got to address whatever issues they have beforehand?

  19. You’re welcome Tina, you’ll never ever feel judged round these parts.
    I really hope one day whatever path you take you find absolute happiness where you can’t quite find it now 🙂
    Sending you lots and lots of love,
    Annabel xXx

  20. My issue isn’t with dresses, it’s with BRA’S. Drives me CRAZY! I have had such bad luck with fittings bar once, it’s driven me to consider writing a whole blog post about it!!!
    Like I say {below} if the surgery aids someone genuinely who otherwise is healthy and sound of mind then I cannot see a problem with it, as long as it’s nothing extreme……!
    xXx

  21. Hi Sophie,
    You are just like me {see my long comment below}.
    Thanks for commenting too! Not so scary is it 🙂
    Good luck with the rest of your wedding planning – please pop in to let us know how it goes 🙂
    xXx

  22. Last bride I knew {who I worked with} it was all about the weight loss and “getting in that zone” {her words} and “feeling the fear” {again, her words} enough to want to lose weight quickly and drastically.
    Scary….
    She ordered her dress 2 sizes too small on purpose.
    I wouldn’t advise that!!!!
    x

  23. Thanks Emma, you are right, that feeling of knowing you’re going to be in the spotlight for a whole day and that everyone will be potentially judging you, examining your dress, figure, hair, makeup, blah blah, it’s enough to send most brides running I’m sure!
    I detest the bridalplasty concept, it is nothing bar utterly hideous.
    x

  24. I had a breast enlargement 3 years ago, years before my now fiancee proposed.
    I do feel people are quick to judge people who have chosen to go under the knife.
    I absolutely love my boobs and they look great in wedding dresses that I have been trying on.
    Your article is well balanced and thought provoking but please don’t forget about people like me who aren’t aspiring glamour models!
    Most people can’t even tell mine aren’t real!
    Happy wedding planning everyone 🙂

  25. Thanks Daisy, I totally understand (and agree). My friend Charlotte who I used as a case study is in the same position and didn’t do it for glamour reasons either. Already so early on her confidence in her body has increased which has been incredible to witness. My main argument against surgery is actually aimed at the media because of the way they pray on insecurities and sell us a “perfect” yet unattainable image – I feel that not being thin or poreless or brown or DD+ chested should be encouraged more within the media so that “normal” or “real” women are seen more to reduce esteem issues in young girls and teenagers (and lets face it – grown women also!) Each woman and her relationship to her body and corresponding choices is completely her own so please don’t think I am judging those who have chosen to have the operation – I never would make this judgement and as long as you love your body nothing else matters 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting xxx

  26. funnily enough one of my clients and i were having a very similar discussion this week when she came for her initial research visit.
    granted, we were discussing it solely in relation to hair styling for the big day, but the concept remains…her husband-to-be really does want to see the woman he fell in love with standing next him during the ceremony, not some primped version of her that no longer resembled that wonderful woman.
    to quote my bride at the end of the conversation “i’m going to keep my hair the way it is at the mo, but just have a tidy up…i want him to recognise me after all!”
    x

  27. Hi Jess,
    hehe, no I can definitely NOT wear high necked numbers, as people now consider my breasts fairly large for my petite 5ft 2″ frame, its just they aren’t a nice shape. It is very important for me to clarify that I never wanted large breasts, just breasts that are a ‘normal’ shape, more or less symmetrical, and not droopy. The implants I have are actually very small compared to what you generally see on people with a boob job, I just wanted to have ‘youthful’ looking breasts…maybe one day I’ll get them…I totally agree though that we are all conditioned to want to look perfect,which I know is unrealistic, but it doesn’t make me want it any less! x

  28. Well, my groom-to-be is currently snuggling me and saying how wonderfully plastic-free I am. This is one of the reasons I’m marrying him.
    I think this article is balanced, but having planned a wedding recently I cannot see why you would want to team one of the biggest parties you may throw, the legal side and the paperwork with extensive surgery! These sorts of changes, if they need to be made, as you’ve said, need to be made with thought and time, not rushing headlong for a deadline.

  29. Since I was quite young I wanted plastic surgery. I wanted a nose job to fix a lump that appeared after an operation due to scar tissue. I wanted my ears pinned back. I wanted my wonky smile corrected. I knew all these things were possible, that all the flaws the bullies picked out could be somehow corrected through surgery. I was 8 or 9 at this point. When I first voiced how I wanted a nose job to my Mum she was absolutely horrified, as she should have been!
    My want for plastic surgery continued until a couple of years ago, when I was 17. By that point, I’d added a boob job to my list; not to enlarge, just to lift. And then I met my fiance. He made me realise that ‘flaws’ are human, that everyone has them, and that they aren’t something that I should be wanting to correct. He loves my nose and my ears, and thanks to him, I’ve had the courage to wear my hair in a ponytail and not cover my ears like I used to.
    People think that it takes time and consideration to decide on something like surgery, but I disagree. I had almost 10 years of consideration and still all it took to change my mind was a re-evaluation of priorites and a different viewpoint.
    I still might get the boob job. At a 30G, I’d like a slight reduction and lift to perk them up a bit and reduce the number of back problems I’m having at only 19! But that’ll be a way off yet.
    I’d never judge someone for surgery, because if it makes them happier and more comfortable in themselves, then that’s great. I just think it’s sad that so many people, of all ages, feel like they need the surgery to find that happiness.
    Great post. Very thought-provoking.
    Sammi
    bridallyblonde.blogspot.com

  30. That’s the thing isn’t it? I guess there are cases where brides get so wrapped up in how they look, their Groom’s may barely recognise them when it comes to it!
    I think it applies to many things – it stems much of it from the message we are bombarded with the moment we announce our engagements I suppose – you MUST look your best on your wedding day. How about, you MUST relax on your wedding day, soak up the wonderful vibe and be YOU!
    😉
    xXx

  31. I totally understand Aisling – trust me.
    “One of you will not have the perfect wedding”
    …. are you serious? I have so far avoided this terrible show but think one day I might actually just have to watch an episode to convince myself it actually is that bad. That people are paid to come up with and market these ideas sickens me. Please, the money should be spent on worthy causes like starving children or something! It’s heinous… 🙁
    I wanted to lose some weight too before my wedding, but for me it happened like this; went for dress fitting and it was a little tight – dress fitter warned me, I turned to her and said ‘don’t worry, it will fit in 4 weeks’. And it did. I didn’t exercise, I didn’t diet, I just kind of …. didn’t really eat! I was so busy preparing DIY for my wedding and had a nervous/excited energy that put me off eating. Not exactly healthy! I felt amazing on my wedding day but unless I exercised daily at the gym and dieted constantly I could not sustain that look for much longer after the wedding.
    Thanks for making some excellent points Aisling xXx

  32. Thanks for taking time to comment Sammi.
    I’m just delighted to hear you have found someone who reminds you he loves you for exactly who you are – that is the BEST feeling in the world.
    And anyway, I think you look lovely on your About page photo 😉
    Happy ‘being a fiancee’ and wedding planning days my friend,
    xXxXx

  33. Thanks for taking time to comment Sammi.
    I’m just delighted to hear you have found someone who reminds you he loves you for exactly who you are – that is the BEST feeling in the world.
    And anyway, I think you look lovely on your About page photo 😉
    Happy ‘being a fiancee’ and wedding planning days my friend,
    xXxXx

  34. Good post!
    I do know a girl who had a boob job for confidence, and boy did it work! Her sisters are well endowed, and Christina just felt so ‘boyish’ in comparison. After her operation she has been so much happier and out-going.
    I, like Sammi, have found a man who has convinced me that my frizzy hair, and AA boobs are just as lovely as anything any-one else has and therefore fixed 90% of my body-confidence issues. No operations for me!
    Also – I know the crying in changing rooms feeling. (I soon learnt not to go shopping at certain times of the month!) Mine tends to come from frustration that I’m abnormally tiny and so usual clothes just don’t fit! The flip side? No VAT on children’s clothes 🙂
    Whatever our personal situations regarding surgery and enhancements, I agree with all of you that it is unfair for the media and plastic surgery providers to prey on our insecurities especially before our weddings! There’s enough pressure to make the day perfect, let alone ourselves.
    Finally – I am very thankful to my mother for bringing me up not to care about how celebrities look, eat, or diet! Kim Kardashian, the TOWIE girls, Posh, what do I care? I’m happy with who I am and how I live, why should these famous people influence my life as much as say, my fiance or best friend?!

  35. This was such a great post that I painstakingly pecked out a comment from my mobile – only for it to fail to register, gaaahhhh.
    The first wedding magazine I bought had an article on which plastic surgery procedure you might choose: not ‘if’ but simply ‘which’. The first wedding fair I went to also had a plastic surgery stand.
    I was pretty shocked by all this. Sure, I’d love to lose weight, but that’s pretty much a constant in my life and not diet specific. But I don’t get the whole thing – people were actually visibly shocked when I had my hair bobbed after we got engaged. What about your wedding? they would say in agonised fashion. Well, where does it say all brides have to have long hair? Mine is too fine to look good long and that’s not going to change simply because I have an absurdly expensive but beautiful dress on. Personally I think brides with bobs or chops look amazing. I was also told by my former hairdresser that I “couldn’t” have my hair straight for the photos – but it IS straight…
    My sister-in-law actually had masses of false ringlets attached when she got married. I was mesmerised by them and not in a good way – they just looked so wrong. They weren’t her at all. And she’s stunning as she is – she didn’t need some spiralled merkin attached to her head like some clingy small creature.
    In other shocking news: I have NO INTENTION of having a fake tan either. If anyone needs a little sit down as a result of this shocking declaration, go right ahead. Generally I’m less opposed to this than anything else because it’s just like make-up and a matter of choice but equally, you shouldn’t HAVE to.
    Straight, short hair and pale – well, clearly I’ll be the oddest bride ever! But at least my fiance will recognise me.

  36. Great post, thank you Jess and Annabelle. I completely understand your friend Charlotte’s desire to rediscover her pre-baby body. My children have left me with terrible varicose veins in both legs. I never wear anything on or above my knees any more as the sight of them makes me do miserable. I am also a firm believer in loving the skin you are in, but if I had the money I would get them sorted in a heartbeat. I am also a long-term glasses wearer and I would even place getting my legs sorted above getting my eyes fixed.
    My husband really doesn’t get it and my best friend told me recently what great shape my legs are in, but I just can’t see past the veins.
    Having rambled on, I couldn’t agree more that somehow we need to get past the celebrity culture and the idea that if you don’t like a body part then surgery is the answer. It won’t fix those deep insecurities that drive people there in the first place. The only person who can do that is yourself.
    Thanks again.

  37. I have no words that how i enjoyed to read this blog.your information of Breast is so use full for my patients.I would like to thank you for share us a nice and so impressive information.And I would like to keep touch with you.thanks a lot.

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