The basic Boob Job is not necessarily a matter of choice. Take my own, for
I never wanted one. But menopause hit with its extra twenty pounds (and counting),
and I have a free Boob Job. I’d say nature has out-jugged itself
when it comes to my bust—not to mention the rest of me. Turned my 34Cs into
38Ds. I stand in front of the mirror and check out my bare breasts. I tell myself,
They don’t look so bad. Your fifty-five-year-old puppies look pretty good,
especially when you factor in the four kids they’ve survived. Pendulous, maybe,
but not bovine.
I turn this way and that, cup them in my hands, push them together, evaluate the
cleavage and am shocked to realize that no push-up bra is going to help. Clearly,
gravity and two pounds of connective tissue, ligaments, milk-glands, fibroid cysts,
and fat are sufficient to push them over the edge. The weight of them sagging into
the bra-cups, Judi Dench-like, rather than spilling out of them, Helen Mirren-like.
That blue corset I wore as a “treat” for my honey before his research
trip to the Yukon nine years ago? History. The black leather one I wore for our
eighth anniversary? Hasta la bye-bye, baby. Any sexy-little-thing that’s a
So far, I hear no complaints from my honey even though he once proclaimed perfect
my 34Cs—“a nice, perky handful.” He is silent about my matronly
rack. The way it fills out blouses, sweaters, and lingerie; the way it weighs down
a bodice and reveals too much cleavage or pulls at frontal buttons. Not one word.
Mum’s also the word for the not-so-pretty, seamless underwire, full-coverage,
full-figure bras. He is a wise man.
The Jobs of Boobs include the following: attract a mate; boost aesthetic effect;
convey the life and death powers of female deities; embellish the chest; enhance
a sense of self; fill a man with delight; flirt, tempt, and seduce; interact with
partners as sex, fetish, and erotic objects; nurse a child; provide subjects for
art (the simply nude, the suckling mother, the suckling lover, the ravaged woman,
the Venus on a half shell); reward men in Muslim Paradise: voluptuous/full-breasted
virgins with large, round breasts, which are not inclined to hang (oh, yeah...the
virgins will also be non-menstruating, non-urinating, non-defecating, childfree,
and possess “appetizing vaginas”); shape clothing; substitute for paint
brushes; suggest femininity; supply names for mountains and restaurants; work as
business assets, sexual signals, milk-squirting deadly weapons, and vehicles for
Before her Boob Jobs, D. told me she suffered from low self-esteem because of how
she looked during adolescence, pointing to the “ugly” middle school
pictures taken before she had braces—her first augmentation. If you could
see the dramatic before and after difference, you might appreciate how the ordinary
experience of successful orthodontia predisposed her to the assorted aesthetic interventions
that pepper her life. The thyroid medication she took not because she had thyroid
disease but because it helped her lose weight. The morph into fashion freak, starting
when she was a teenager, escalating as she approached middle age. Approached now.
The diets. The Zone. The South Beach. The Nutrisystem. The Jack LaLanne Juicer juices.
The bioidentical anti-aging hormones. The expensive face and body creams. Clinique.
Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle and UV Damage Corrector. Repairwear Laser Focus All
Smooth Makeup. Repairwear Intensive Eye Cream. Which didn’t work. Which suggested
a face lift. Which suggested a Boob Job. Which wasn’t enough. Which suggested
another Boob Job. Which seemed to satisfy D’s lover. Which seemed to satisfy
D. too. Which seemed to cure her low self-esteem—for now.
Heaven help me. My granddaughter has boobs. One day she was my sweet, little flat-chested
grandchild. The next she’s my sweet, grown-up and curvy grandchild. The staples
of her wardrobe? Tight camis under tight t-shirts. The layers enhance rather than
conceal. The necklines plunge. And she has beautiful, eye-catching cleavage. Oh.
Famous Boob Jobs: Artemis is particularly well-endowed with about seventeen
teats—or is it two teats and fifteen bull testicles? If you want your phallic
arrow to fly straight and true, you cut off your right breast like Amazon warrior
queen, Hippolyta. Martyr Saint Agatha of Sicily’s breasts? Crushed and hacked
off. Picasso dislocated his subjects’ shard-like globes in Les Demoiselles
d’Avignon. Germaine Greer burned her bra and liberated tits everywhere. Those
bad, blond girls in Austin Powers? Their knockers sprout cannons. Lady
Gaga’s bazongas can shoot fireworks as well. Joan of Arc and Gwyneth Paltrow
bound their bumps to look like men. Barbie had a reduction. Elizabeth Edwards had
a double mastectomy. Olivia Newton John reconstructed hers. Christina Applegate
lopped hers off in a pre-emptive breast cancer strike. Chastity Bono decided hers
were optional, added a penis, and changed her/his name to Chaz. Porn star, Sexy
Cora Berger, died during her sixth enlargement surgery (34F to a 34G), doctors telling
her husband as she lay there dying, “The brain damage was too big.”
My lesbian friend baked her lover a cake. We’re not talking about your regular,
run-of-the-mill flat cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles. No. As it happens,
while scrounging around in the cupboard, she discovered heart-shaped pans once used
for a Valentine’s Day party. And there, inside the hearts, were the sports
ball pans she’d used to try to make a baseball cake for her son’s first
birthday—eight years ago. Seeing the half balls upside-down in the hearts
like that gave her the idea. A bikini cake. They’ll make nice ta-tas, she
thought. The two hearts, with a few nips and cuts, made the perfect hour-glass shape.
And then, with a glob of icing on the flat side of each half-circle and two straws
as anchors, my friend did her Boob Job magic. She iced the cake smooth with flesh
coloring. Nude, the buxom, no-nippled torso was unnerving, but my friend wasn’t
yet done. There was the skimpy, blue, string-bikini bottom yet to be applied. After
that, she painted a hot pink butterfly tattoo on one hip. The final debate was whether
to cover the areola area with a couple of ribbon tassels or flower pasties. She
finally opted for a matching bikini top, leaving the strings untied with one erect
nipple exposed. The laces spelling
across the upper chest and
For Fun across the bare
In a magnetic frame on the fridge is the snapshot my friend took capturing her lover’s
reaction to the cake. She is, of course, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
Tomorrow your daughter gets a Boob Job. Your baby. Just twenty-four. And she is
getting a boob job because, she tells you, she is done having and nursing kids.
Nursing your two adorable granddaughters obliterated her breasts. Not that she had
much to begin with. And while you don’t like the idea, you get it. She did
not inherit your breasts. No. She inherited the small, fried egg-shaped breasts
of your sister, the same breasts found on an aunt, several cousins, and one or two
of your nieces; breasts that do not fill a bodice or shape a sweater without a thickly
padded Wonder Bra. Your aunt and sister reconciled themselves to their cleavage-less
As far as you know, only one of the cousins could afford an enhancement, the same
one who has four or five kids. The same one married to an oral surgeon and living
in a high-priced Southern California community near the beach. But then, technically,
your daughter shouldn’t be able to afford a boob job. She is a stay-at-home
mom. Her husband is the family’s sole provider. Theirs is a tight budget.
Yet, somehow, she has the money, having squirreled away earnings from odd jobs,
like selling airbrush tattoos at Mud-Runs and 4th of July carnivals, and saving
her half of income tax refunds. You’re not surprised, really. Your daughter
is patient and relentless when she wants something.
And she wants new boobs.
J. said, I want those movies out of my house. You watch them when I’m not
home. You jerk off to them on the couch when I’m in bed.
Her husband said, If you watched the movies with me, maybe it wouldn’t be
an issue. I’d get excited; you’d get excited. Voyeurism feeds desire.
Don’t you know that?
J. said, It’s not just that they’re vulgar; it’s that I’ll
never be porn-worthy. What real woman can compete with a perfect-bodied, submissive
nympho? What happened to the eroticism of simple lovemaking?
He said, You might try bikini wax. A Boob Job. I could get you one for Christmas.
J. said, Fake boobs and boobiferous are not synonymous.
He said, Sure they are. And we’d both get the breasts we’ve always wanted.
Many Boob Jobs has E.
A. A mastectomy. The impact of the empty space hits hard. Surprisingly
unanticipated. Unexpected. E. has always worn layers, so there’s no need to
hide what’s missing with a wardrobe change. It’s just that she doesn’t
feel like wearing colors anymore. E. is more into black with white...mostly black.
B. A reconstruction. E. hates the prosthesis, but she wants to fill out
her clothes; she wants a natural look with or without cleavage. But then the
reconstruction...it doesn’t work out as hoped...more hard chest mound than soft
breast. Not that it matters. The fact is she can’t imagine ever letting a man
fondle anything on her chest again, can’t imagine taking off her top for a man
again, not since her husband said, I didn’t think it would look like that.
C. Redux. A few years later, the cancer invades E’s remaining breast.
Another empty space. Less unanticipated? Less unexpected? E. can’t say for
Back in her hospital room, E’s husband says, There was a problem; he says,
The doctor closed you up.
At which point he leaves for home.
Fourteen excruciating hours later, the doctor tells E. the problem is her skin—not
metastasis. She’s not going to die. Not today, anyway.
D. Another reconstruction. E. is disappointed. The new chest mound is higher,
larger, and harder than the old one. Her arm is swollen to three times its normal
size. But it is her skin that causes her the greatest concern. It is thin and giving
at the seams.
E. Enhancements. E. has made several important decisions. It’s time
to leave her husband, so she rents a little house and moves in alone. It’s
time to risk a new relationship, so she allows herself to get involved with a friend.
It’s time to make love again, so she does—with her blouse held firmly
in place. It’s not as if she’s trying to fool anyone. The man knows
what’s under the blouse. And she’s beginning to believe he won’t
turn away in disgust should it slip loose. But for now, he doesn’t push to
see what’s hidden, and she doesn’t offer to expose much, preferring,
instead, the most extraordinary of pleasures: cuddling with him on the couch.
My eighty-something-year-old neighbor claims that sooner or later in every woman’s
life boobs, the jobs of boobs, and Boob Jobs become irrelevant. Take hers, for example.
She was a curvaceous 1940s bathing suit model. Movie star material—Ingrid
Bergman comes to mind. But then she fell in love, got married, and had a few daughters.
A typical woman of her era, she gave up her career and embraced the role of stay-at-home
mom—a good thing since the pregnancies took their toll on her model’s
body—particularly her breasts. Hers was a happy, till-death-do-us-part marriage,
and that took its toll, too. The lithe look of her model days was lost forever,
evolving into a form she prefers and finds more comfortable—a home body.
Then her husband died. She’s not inclined to replace him. A few years after
his death, she required a double mastectomy. She’s not inclined to replace
her breasts, either. She says, I’m done. There will be no more men. She says,
Why conform to a self-image we cannot sustain or make work for us?
—First published in Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging,
edited by R.A. Rycraft and Leslie What (Serving House Books, 2012)
has published stories, essays, reviews, and interviews in a number of journals
and anthologies, including Pif Magazine, VerbSap, Perigee, The MacGuffin,
Winner of an Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award for 2008 and
a Special Mention for the 2010 Pushcart Prize, Rycraft is chair of the English
department at Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee, California, where she was recently
named Faculty of the Year.