This article was originally published in 2008 in The RAY magazine.
(To download a digital version of the full magazine, CLICK HERE)

Growing up in a family full of women, three sisters and our mother, there was a lot of female energy buzzing around the house, especially once we hit puberty. In different stages, as my sisters and I began to develop into women, we each had our own feelings about our bodies as we quickly adjusted to the new body hair, sore chests and widening hips. My first true awareness of my body came with the development of my breasts.  Actually, I should say, the lack of development of my breasts.

As my hips got wider and my body more full with the beautiful curves of womanhood, somehow, my breasts did not communicate with the rest of my body what role they were to play in “balancing” out my curves. In fact, they seemed to be left of the whole developmental conversation altogether. Stubbornly, to this day, they remain barely able to fill an A cup bra.  Like many women I have struggled with the acceptance of my physical body from my teenage years until present.  For me, my breasts became the main issue of this struggle for a very long time.

Now, the seemingly easy thing to do to “fix my issue” would be to get a “boob job.”  Simple, right?  Not exactly, but to be truthful, I almost did. That seed was planted early on by my own mother who, in theory, was just trying to be helpful. For many years I was all for it and I thoroughly explored this route.

Within my first few years of living in Los Angeles, my mind was made up.  I was going to “improve” my body once and for all, and this was certainly the city in which to do it. I went to consultation after consultation, until I finally found the right doctor, at the right price of slightly more than $5000, most of which I had already saved. Heck, I even had the boobs picked out (yes, they encourage you to bring in a photo of the breasts you want for the doctor to refer to in surgery).

I was thrilled at the prospect of what life would be like with BREASTS! Finally!  I was told by each doctor’s assistant over and over (most with implants themselves) just how wonderful I would feel after I did it. How much sexier, beautiful and confident I would be. And, I wanted to believe them so much that it hurt.

Despite what seemed like an easy solution to a life long body issue, something inside did not feel very good at all, and that had to be explored. The question was; is this desire rooted in nature, or in nurture? Is it a natural desire for me to want bigger breasts in order to fully express myself as a woman or have I been nurtured by society’s false truths to believe it is something I need to fully express myself as a woman?

I started talking to as many people as I could:  friends, family and my therapist.  I had to make sure I was absolutely, positively sure before I committed to a life with breast implants, which, by the way, are not guaranteed for life.  Implants have an average life span of 10 years, and if they rupture it means another surgery.

In my discussions with the world around me I began to see my quest for breasts in a new light.  Some key points began to arise for me. The first, and most important was the realization that I am a woman! Breasts do not make that a fact, and are not the only expression of womanhood I have to offer. I also began stripping down the question of why exactly I wanted bigger breasts.  I never had a shortage of lovers, and my breasts have always been appreciated in my relationships. Okay, so then it was something I desired for me, right?  At that thought, my mind, body and soul started having their own conversation.

Mind said,  “I want bigger breasts so I can look better in clothing!”
Soul said, “Is that a good enough reason for you?”
Mind responded, “All right then, it’s so I can feel better in clothing…”
Body replied, “Hey, is fashion the only reason you’re considering surgically placing plastic bags of salt water in my chest? That’s not good enough for me, let’s dig deeper.”
Mind said, “Okay, got it…  I have the body type of a woman with a C cup and I just need to balance that out, that’s all.”
Soul said, “Who says?”

Mind started to answer and then realized that this conversation was going round and round. No matter how hard we tried to argue that I was truly and honestly wanting larger breasts for myself, I just could not strip it down far enough to support that. I began to realize that breasts implants might not be a part of my path after all. I started to wonder what life would be like for me if I began to accept my breasts. What if I were to focus more on the qualities and features I feel good about instead of focusing so much on what I do not have (or think I do not have)? Could I actually be freed from my negative thought pattern slavery? The only way to find out if this was possible was to give it a try.  My mind agreed.

Little by little, day-by-day, that is what I have been doing.  When I start to feel bad about my breast size, I look into my big brown eyes and remind myself how glad I am that people notice those, first. Other times I smile at myself in the mirror and remember how much light shines from that smile – for life! Accepting my body and loving myself to the best of my ability each day is a conscious process.  I am not without my struggles, but in staying aware of my thoughts I find myself making choices that empower and uplift me.

We all have our hurdles to overcome, mentally, emotionally and physically.  We all make different choices as a result of our circumstances.  My story is purely my truth, a choice that I made and a lesson that was uniquely mine. You each have your own path and I pass no judgment on the choices that feel right to you. If I know one thing to be true it is that we are all beautiful and sexy in different moments and in different ways.  Personal power and true beauty comes from accepting that.

I am willing to accept it.

“Daphne in Transition” image from the series Myth & Memory
by Paula Stoeke © 2004 all rights reserved. PaulaStoeke.com

(Body Love is a new Life Stylized Class facilitated by Sierra Sullivan every 3rd Wednesday of the month.  This article is a teaser of the kinds of topics that will be addressed in this class.)