The boob job is back – but can it survive in an era of body positivity?

Maddy Mussen

Fri, 11 November 2022 at 3:32 pm

The boob job is back! (Getty Images)
The boob job is back! (Getty Images)

When I was 14 years old, I wore two bras to school, every day, in an aim to make my boobs look bigger. It was painful. No human is meant to wear two bras, four underwires, six clasps, all done up a little bit too tight for emphasis. My chest ached constantly.

You can imagine my younger self’s relief, then, when gradually big boobs started to fade out of fashion and, for years, the itty-bitty-titty committee reigned supreme.

But the body type du jour is changing again. It was heroin chic in the Nineties, then came the double-D supremacy in the 2000s (see: Jessica Simpson, Pamela Anderson and The Girls Next Door, set in the Playboy Mansion), then the rise of the butt and with it, the BBL, and now, finally, full circle: An article from The New York Post just spotted heroin chic coming back from over the hill and sounded the alarm. Which can only mean y2k big boob culture is right around the corner.

You can feel it coming – Megan Fox, Madison Beer, and Khloe Kardashian have all been on gossip pages suspected of undergoing the process recently. But things are different now. We’ve embraced body positivity, or at least pretended to, and moved towards gender fluidity. All shapes are now equally embraced.

So is it back, and how can it be, when it’s a body trend so rooted in stereotypical femininity, appealing to men, and unnatural boost to make those au naturel feel insecure? Surely it’s just as bad as ‘heroin chic’? We’re supposed to be past all that, aren’t we?

Surgeons can confirm the boob job is indeed back, just not in its previous form.

“I’ve definitely noticed a recent trend in smaller, more natural enlargements,” says Dr Amir Sadri, a plastic surgeon who has numerous celebrity clients, including well-known actresses and models (all names kept strictly confidential, of course).

Megan Fox is among the celebs recently suspected of having work done to her breasts (Megan Fox/Instagram)
Megan Fox is among the celebs recently suspected of having work done to her breasts (Megan Fox/Instagram)

He explains the two different kinds of boob jobs, the y2k kind, “When the implants are put on top of the muscle so they give a ‘faker’ more rounded shape,” and the current form he’s noticed more recently, under the muscle. “This lifts and adds a little more volume, without looking too cosmetically enhanced or fake. The trick is to stay a cup size close to your natural size and concentrate on getting the shape right so they look natural.”

The y2k kind of boob job was so popular at the time, Dr Sadri said, it was impossible not to take note – even though at this time he was only a medical student. “A surgeon who I work closely with now said that he worked all the hours God gave him to keep up with the demand,” he shared.

Professor Laurence Kirwan, another plastic surgeon based in New York, was a practising plastic surgeon during this time and claims the demand was extraordinary: “I did several thousand [breast enlargements] in the 2000s and I think it was a lot more popular then. It was almost a rite of passage.”

Victoria Beckham has expressed regret over her boob job in the past, saying it was out of insecurity (Robert Mora/Getty Images)
Victoria Beckham has expressed regret over her boob job in the past, saying it was out of insecurity (Robert Mora/Getty Images)

And yet Professor Kirwan believes that the boob job will never come back in quite the same way as the 2000s, largely because people have been scarred by the PIP implant scandal (where low-quality implants were found to be at high risk of rupturing inside the breast), which Kirwan says “dimmed the implant star a bit”.

However, he has noticed a newer trend of breast lifts and fat injections, which look set to be “the next boob job”.

“I doubt that implants will be as popular as they were in the early 2000s,” Kirwan predicts. “This is because of greater awareness of the long-term re-op rate [where breast enlargements are redone or altered] and potential complications, and also because of the options of breast auto-augmentation and fat injection.”

But Kirwan makes one final, salient point: “However, breast implants won’t be going out of fashion for as long as push-up bras are sold.”

Khloe Kardashian recently expressed a desire to get her boobs done on an episode of The Kardashians (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Khloe Kardashian recently expressed a desire to get her boobs done on an episode of The Kardashians (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

And that’s the clincher. For as long as women are unhappy with their bodies, boob jobs will exist, push-up bras will exist, waist trainers will exist, the list goes on. We’re supposedly living in an era of “body positivity”, so all of these should, in theory, be on the way out. But therapist Sally Baker – who has experience treating women with body dysmorphia that centres around their breasts and other areas – says it’s all a big con.

“We’re not body positive at all,” she says, detailing her work with women who have body issues: “They say it’s a complete fiction, it’s a social-media construct, it doesn’t exist in real life, and they don’t believe it themselves.”

The beloved movement of body positivity is but a drop in the ocean then, of the slew of ideal body images that are presented to women on a daily basis.

Boob jobs may have transformed to be slighter, less obvious, and more indistinct from real breasts, but that may just make it even harder for young women to weigh themselves up against.

“It just makes it more insidious and harder to detect,” Sally Baker notes.

Ultimately, we are now looking at the media view of the ‘idealised’ body types that we can’t even tell are manufactured.

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