Gender anatomy is at once charged, revered, and reviled.
For cisgender women, breasts function as a focus for the male gaze, they aid and abet a women’s measure of self-worth and (in)security, and provide a means to sustain our babies.
Breastfeeding provides more ways for women to compare ourselves to each other as it can be easy to difficult. Women can be repelled by their functionality or mourn the loss of this close nurturing stage of their developing relationship with their children. Modern society finds them at the center of controversy, jealousy, or disgust with men’s response to lactation. Many women are accused of exhibitionism, are selfconcious and feel the need to hide this functional and bond building role of the breast, are stressed by the seeming servitude in that same relationship, or embarrassed by their inadequacy or visible over production. To some, breasts define the identity of a female.
Reduction or removal of breasts, to breast augmentation are desired by transgender and cisgender individuals alike, and sometimes are requested by their partners. “Top surgery” can help make some nonbinary and transgender people feel more comfortable.
Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer for women. A mastectomy, either as a proactive surgery to reduce the risk of breast cancer or in reaction to a cancerous presence, is wrought with more decisions, soul searching, doubts, and societal inflicted trauma. To rebuild or not? All of these choices come with the risks of surgery and sharing one’s body with a foreign object.
This is a most personal process, yet one which has a public front of judgment.
To embrace the presence of our breasts as fundamental as water for life and representational of a woman’s ability to provide sustenance can come with the ability to acknowledge that their absence doesn’t mean we are not as capable, feminine, or worthy of love and respect.
Seeing the beauty and the life supporting path offered by breasts or their absence seems more balanced.