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Why In the World Would a Woman Ever Get Fake Breasts?

Breast augmentation is still a popular procedure. What does that say about women, men and our society?

A few weeks ago we ran into a relative who had been going through a difficult patch in her life.  What I saw made my heart sink. Our relative had gotten breast augmentation surgery since the last time I had seen her. For whatever reason it just smacked me in the face because I had thought she was such an attractive woman—she carried herself with the kind of grace that makes a person look even more beautiful, not less, with age. So it really upset me that she had felt the need to change herself and, in my view, look less real and frankly to my eye less attractive.

This set my mind off: What the hell is going on in our country that women think they need fake breasts to be okay with their bodies? What does that say about women? What does that say about men? And what is going on with gender when fake is so much more adored than something real?

While some experiments with breast augmentation date back to the 19 th century, the first widespread use was during the 1940s, when Japanese prostitutes began to have their breasts injected with substances such as paraffin in the hope that American servicemen stationed there after the war would favor them with larger breasts.

Fast-forward to today. Over 300,000 women and teenage girls underwent surgery last year to have their breasts enlarged with silicone or saline implants, and more than 80,000 more had reconstruction after being treated for cancer. According to Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families, the number of cosmetic implants has  tripled over the last decade. And 40,000 with implants underwent  removal last year.


The CEO of a chain of strip clubs told me that 90 percent of his dancers have breast enhancements. But, he said, “It is more about the stripper building her self-confidence and feeling good about herself, and less about the demand from the customer. Usually if the girl is unhappy with the size or shape of her breasts, she will opt to have implant surgery to be better able to compete with the other entertainers in the industry to make more money.”

I asked him about the women who get what appear to be particularly grotesque large implants and the motivation behind that. “Feature entertainers are performers who have established themselves in the industry by appearing in adult magazines and films, therefore receiving credits. They are paid to travel to gentlemen’s clubs to perform as a headline entertainer on stage. Since they really need to stand out from the ‘house dancers,’ they usually opt to go larger than normal.”

I asked a bunch of guys what they thought about breast implants in order to get a random sampling of what men  really think.

John is a 46-year-old business owner who has lived in Las Vegas for 21 years, and a self-admitted “breast snob.” He has watched the dramatic increase of breast implants in Vegas and, from talking to other guys, believes he is in the minority—but he is a strong proponent of natural breasts. “To me it’s all about the way real breasts look, move, and especially how they feel,” he told me. “I mean, with my girl on top, real boobs swaying and bouncing, life is good! While fakes may look great to fill out clothing, they just don’t look right naked.”

Of the guys I talked to, in fact, a majority asserted that they found natural breasts more attractive than breasts that had been surgically augmented. Men who spent a lot of time in strip clubs or watching porn more often admitted to liking enhanced breasts. Like a 26-year-old acquaintance in New York said of fake breasts, “They look better, feel better, and you can have more fun with ‘em!” His theory, beyond just finding the larger, artificially enhanced breasts sexy, is that a woman who has surgery actually has  more confidence in herself, opinions be damned. In his mind, breast enhancement shows a woman cares about her appearance.