Is the fundamental concept of female beauty changed when it comes to breast?
Why do women get breast implants anyway? The answer is typically fairly obvious: to get larger breasts. Another, deeper answer might be to live up to society’s ideal—for better or for worse—as to what a woman should look like. And that is nothing new. You need only go back to the ‘Roaring Twenties’ to see how society shapes our view of feminine beauty—in that case, to the popular ‘flapper’ look, in which a shorthaired, flat-chested appearance was the chic female style.
In today’s world, where buxom is considered better, the question is whether the popularity of breast implants has changed our view of beauty, or whether our changing view of beauty has made the procedure popular.
No group feels that emotional impact quite as strongly as those who have lost a breast to cancer, says Dr. Lee, who notes that women who undergo mastectomies select breast reconstruction surgery at her practice some 90 percent of the time. “Having the [augmentation surgery plays a big part in restoring their emotional and physical health,” she says.
Dr. Lee rejects the idea that women get breast implants to attract a mate, either male or female. She believes, as do most doctors, that patients undergo breast surgery purely so they may feel better about themselves—and that those who express reasons otherwise are not well suited for the procedure. “If she is doing it purely for her male partner, it’s a disaster in the making,” she says. “I have found that these types of control issues can backfire [on the woman].”
It still begs the question, though: do men prefer women with augmented breasts? “I think men prefer larger breasts, period. It’s instinctual,” says Dr. Denison. “A lot of men don’t even know when women have had implants in the first place. They just see larger breasts.”
Dr. Ron Moser agrees. “Men usually like large breasts,” he says. “If implants make breasts larger, does that mean men prefer implants? No. They prefer larger breasts. If the surgery is done correctly, there’s not much of a difference in the look and feel between an implant and a natural breast.”
Dr. Ron Moser argues that, purely from the visual point of view, implants also make a woman appear more womanly. “It harkens back to the animal kingdom,” he says. “Lions with darker, fuller manes are more successful in mating. Think about a peacock with its feathers.” But do big breasts automatically equal beauty?
For a large part of our society, the answer is yes, though the attraction to them and the desire to have them might be instinctual rather than fully conscious. Several studies on beauty have shown that the desire to be beautiful, especially sexually beautiful, is a reproductive instinct, not cultural. This was the premise of the best selling (and controversial at the time) book “The Naked Ape,” by zoologist Desmond Morris, who posited that breasts served no other purpose than to make women attractive for frontal mating, once we stood up on two feet and left the derriere behind.
On the other hand, while cultural icons like Pamela Anderson and Dolly Parton grab attention, many of the women of film, television and print who are considered beautiful—Jessica Alba, Kate Moss, to name a few—are far from large breasted. From this point of view, the lithe, athletic look of tennis star Ana Maria Sharapova or race driver Danica Patrick has supplanted the idea of the voluptuous, rounded woman epitomized by Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe.
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