Monday, 8 August 2016

Random thoughts on going flat

A little over two years ago, I had a double mastectomy to remove my breasts and do what I could to bypass the 85% chance of breast cancer that my faulty BRCA1 gene and family history all but guaranteed in my future. I did not want to opt for reconstruction for many reasons, not least because it isn't just one surgery but several over a lifetime. I had three years of research to make my decision and made contact with people in the UK and abroad who were living breast-free lives. There are many women who have had this surgery, my cousin included, who choose to go 'flat' - i.e. not wear any prosthetics. 

Today was the first day I felt like going out in public 'flat'.

Flat Friends UK, a lovely support group I found on Facebook. Very useful for fashion tips!

I didn't because I was going to a wedding, I hadn't mentioned it to the bride and groom before and a woman without breasts can be a startling and unnerving image. Yes, yes, yes, I am aware that negative reaction is something to be challenged and worked with but I did not think the venue today was the right one to begin that.

The important thing for me is that I felt like going without prosthetics in a public place around people I didn't know. To me, this is a step forward. Might be small to some, but to me it is a big one.

Melanie Testa - an inspiring lady who goes flat

When I had breasts, they were 36DD. In my teens they were a B cup, in my early 20s a C, and then when I fell in love and moved in with my now husband they got to the DD stage. He used to claim it was his magic hands - I think it was more down to the fact he was a fantastic cook.

Anyway, having breasts that size meant that my boobs were noticeable. 

Men and teenage boys had always felt they could make comments on my breasts. Not ALL men, obviously. But a certain type of man. If that type of man had the sense of entitlement that they could comment on my breasts I have no doubt they would also feel they could comment on my lack of breasts. The comments when I had breasts reduced me to a sexual object there for gratification. I assume the comments I would receive post-breasts would also be sexual, and negative and disparaging because I now no longer meet the requirement for what this type of man expects from a woman.

Shondia - Bold & Breastless

This is what holds me back from going flat in my day to day life. The fact that others would feel free to sit in judgement and to have the right to voice that judgement - and I don't know if I am equipped to constructively challenge others should they do this. 

I'm not particularly fond of being looked at. I don't like having my picture taken. I don't like wearing make-up. Wearing my A or B cup prosthetics, I am 'under the radar' if you will. I tick a box and look 'normal'. Remove those prosthetics and I place myself in a different category. 

One of the Flat Friends members strutting her stuff

I recently listened to an episode of Late Night Woman's Hour where a number of interesting ideas came up. One was that women dress for some things and against others. For example, women dress against the chance of being abused or harassed, dressing against a certain type of scrutiny. That encapsulates part of the reason why I choose to wear prosthetics.

Another quote form this programme ran along the lines that as a woman you are:
made to be held accountable for what you wear . . . (others) want you to control or somehow sanction your body with what you're wearing and that means that there's something very powerful in what women wear and that's totally compelling.

Do I want to challenge those who feel they can criticise me for not conforming to expectation? Though I have mentioned men above I am well aware that it would not just be men who made comment but women and children too. Maybe I could open up a conversation with some of those people. With some, there would be no opportunity for that. I would be in opposition to something they expected and no amount of talk would convince them that I was not transgressing something deeply important to them.

I would especially love to go topless when swimming. I'm not the best of swimmers but I do enjoy being in the water. I hope that one day I have the confidence to do this.

I have a feeling I will be returning to this topic.

From the SCAR Project

1 comment:

  1. Very well articulated. I have gone out frequently in public uniboobed and bald. I live by 'Those that matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter'. I've never had to deal with any comments or funny looks. I have bought lots of patterned and floaty tops where I used to wear more plain or striped styles, but that is dressing to please me, not anyone else. Perhaps it is easier for me as I am older (58).