For a long time, I lived the way most women have been conditioned to, trying to adhere to society’s standards of perfection. I felt I was never truly connected to my inner self because I was always focused on the exterior. I wore makeup, I coloured my hair, I got my nails done, I got breast implants.
I had the surgery when I was 31. Not just for the sake of having bigger boobs but to feel more comfortable in my skin and improve my confidence—or so I thought. I just felt like I wasn’t good enough. I had an eating disorder for most of my teen and young-adult years, and it affected how my body looked. After the surgery, I started wearing revealing tops and dresses, and I became even more obsessed with how I looked. I got more attention, but it was because I was being more overt. Then I started feeling sick.
My first symptoms appeared within days of getting my implants, but I didn’t make the connection. Over the next four years, my joints, muscles and bones began to ache. I also developed skin conditions—including rashes, lesions and dermatitis—and severe digestive issues.
Eventually, a friend sent me an article about breast implant illness. The moment I read it, I knew this was what I had. I immediately set up an appointment with my surgeon, but he laughed me out of his office. The kind of procedure I was demanding—the full removal of the implants and the capsules around them—was very rare. After a month of obsessively making calls and having consultations, I finally found another surgeon. Four years after getting my implants, I had them removed.
The surgery was a major wake-up call, but it didn’t solve all my problems. Afterward, I was still experiencing certain sensitivities, so I ended up eliminating 90 percent of the beauty products I used from my routine. Now, I paint my nails with natural polish, and I don’t wear foundation or scented body creams. My symptoms have mostly cleared; I feel so much better.
It sounds cliché, but as a result of all of this I realized that true beauty really does come from within. The attention I got with my implants satisfied me to a degree, but then it just fed into more insecurity around maintaining that so-called perfection.
Today, I wear my small boobies with pride. I fell in love with them and how they fit my body almost immediately, but it took some time to accept the scarring. I still have moments of insecurity but, overall, I actually feel sexier than before. My friends have been so supportive, too. They see that I’m much happier and confident now. (Still, I try not to rely too much on external validation.) I also no longer wear bras with underwire or padding. Instead, I love wearing lacy bralettes—but when I can, I let my boobs be wild and free
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Maureen Halushak, editor-in-chief, Chatelaine