Battle scars It’s time to stop stigmatizing breast reduction



By: Allison Mizzi/ SHEC

In early February, Modern Family actress Ariel Winter shocked the world by attending the Screen Actors Guild awards with visible breast reduction scars peaking out from her dress. Headlines read “Ariel Winter not ashamed of her scars?” and “Winter shows scarred chest from breast reduction.” Fans and critics alike were quick to judge and pick at her so-called imperfections, but the teenager took to Twitter, stating, “There is a reason I didn’t make an effort to cover up my scars! They are part of me and I’m not ashamed of them at all.” Her words showcase her comfort with her choice and the result of this procedure.

In a society increasingly obsessed with perfection in beauty and body, Winter’s words are refreshing. Contrary to popular belief, reduction mammoplasty — also known as breast reduction surgery — is a common procedure. Thousands of women are predisposed to develop enlarged breasts, while others develop them post-partum or from weight gain. The heavy chest weight can cause chronic pain in areas of the head, neck, shoulders and back and contribute to other health problems like poor blood circulation, impaired breathing and chafing of the skin. Large chests can also hamper athletic and exercise activities and may inhibit women from leading an active lifestyle. In addition to the physical consequences, self consciousness and unwanted attention can provoke anxiety in public or social settings, and women often suffer from low self-esteem and body image issues as a result of their breast-size. It is clear that large breast size can impact mental health and quality of life.

Breast reduction surgery removes excess breast tissue and fat, remodels the breast mound and trims and re-drapes the skin to encase the newly sized breast. The procedure is taxing, typically lasting three to six hours, and produces surgical scars either under the breast or around the nipple. The recovery period usually lasts one to two months, however, body image and satisfaction effects are often immediate. Winter’s comment rings true for many: “It was an instant weight lifted off my chest — both literally and figuratively … There’s a confidence you find when you finally feel right in your body.”

Stories of breast reduction surgery bring up important issues about how we view and judge female bodies. Ironically, before her surgery, Winter was often criticized for dressing in a way that was too “mature,” as a result of her large breasts. Unsurprisingly, after breast reduction, media sources found another way to target her body.

Moreover, scars shouldn’t be shocking or a matter of public scrutiny. Most of us have these intimate imperfections, which represent a story and hold pain, bravery and courage among other memories and emotions.

Lastly, the public’s opinion on choices made for personal, appearance or health-related reasons is not valid. Breast reduction is a personal choice, one that should be made in consultation with physicians alone. By expressing confidence in body-related choices, and speaking out against body-shaming, celebrities like Winter have the power to empower others to treat all bodies with positivity and respect.

Photo Credit: Getty



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