Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who entered the “Breast Summer Ever” contest, and why?

The judges for Amp Radio’s controversial contest for a $10,000 breast augmentation have picked their 10 finalists. Now it’s up to the public to vote on who is most deserving of the boob job.

Since I first heard about this contest, I was curious to see would enter, their reasons for entering, and whose story would resonate most with the public and win the ultimate prize. Each contestant has made a video, which are posted online. I watched each one and here are their reasons for wanting breast augmentation:

  • 4/10 women had lost weight, which changed the size and shape of their breasts. They talk about the “excess skin” left over after weight loss and how their breasts just don’t look right anymore.
  • 3/10 of the women talked about nursing children and the toll that having kids takes on your body. Basically, they want their pre-baby boobies back.
  • 3/10 had sob stories, but surprisingly there were no cancer survivors. One woman has a large burn mark that covers her right breast, another has "lop-sided" breasts, and one had a rare disease that made her very thin and unable to develop breasts during puberty.
  • 1 woman is transgender (she was born male but is transitioning to female).
  • 1 woman said she wanted a lift and reduction, as she is a size FF and would like to be average sized.

I was a little disheartened to see how many women discussed their post-pregnancy bodies and how they want their old body back. Why can’t we accept that women’s bodies change after pregnancy? Our bodies change throughout our lives – why is an aging body or a post-baby body seen as something that needs to be fixed? (News flash, ladies! You can’t stop aging. You just can’t. Stop wasting your time, money and effort trying to, and accept your aging body instead. I promise life will be a lot more fun that way).

There is an unreal amount of pressure on women to get back to how they looked before the baby. Trashy celebrity tabloids publish issues with headlines like, My body after baby - How I lost 25 lbs in 8 weeks. The pressure is so strong that I actually know women who are choosing not to have children because they’re afraid of what it will do to their bodies. Says Katie Gentile in an article from the Daily Beast,
When women shed the baby weight, they are not merely getting back their pre-baby body, they are obliterating all the evidence of ever having had a baby in the first place. This means the one thing that only women's bodies can do is expected to be immediately erased. The post-baby body is wrung of its recent life-giving feat. Sagging milk-filled breasts must appear perky; the once-swollen abdomen is made concave. It's as if we should actually believe the baby dropped from the stork, from the sky, from anywhere but that toned, buff body.
To me, part of being a feminist is accepting and not judging other women’s decisions and choices. So I’m not going to rag on the women who entered this contest or judge them for what they want. But many of the women talked about gaining or improving self-confidence through breast augmentation surgery, and I think they’re missing a key piece to the self-confidence puzzle. Self confidence is an internal thing – it comes from knowing who you are, knowing your values and what you stand for, setting and accomplishing goals and knowing that you are worthy of happiness and love. True self confidence, self acceptance and self love come from the inside – plastic surgery is an external procedure that will not fix an internal problem.

I won’t be voting for any of these ladies because I fundamentally disagree with the contest. I think the contest promotes body dissatisfaction and the idea that self confidence can be instantly achieved with a surgical procedure. Also, Amp Radio has a young audience and I know lots of kids listen to it. I think it normalizes plastic surgery for young people when they hear about it as a “fun contest.” Our society’s obsession with perfect bodies has gone too far, and I refuse to be a part of anything that perpetuates endless discontent with one’s body.

Check out some of the contests in Canada offered by


  1. I have to say I'm very disappointed by this post. It's disheartening to see that a feminist blog would not support a transwoman in her efforts to transition and live a more complete life.

    I'm also a feminist and I am not particularly fond of plastic surgery on principle or that women are expected to look perfect. Trust me, I'm with you on that one. But I also believe that one's quality of life and self-esteem *can* be improved through plastic surgery. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Physical change can effect one's internal self. Think about how refreshed you may feel about a new haircut or wearing a brand new outfit.

    I also worry about the normalization of plastic surgery - especially for young women. But these are all grown adults and I trust that they know what is best for them. And as for transwomen, "self esteem" does not negate the feeling of incompleteness they may feel pre-transition. I however am not trans and do not pretend to speak for all transfolk, this is just how I see it. But I as a cisgender woman am a little insulted that you think a transpersons' quality of life cannot be improved by physical change. If that was so, trans people would never transition.

    I hope you read what I've had to say and maybe reconsider your lack of support for Avery, at the very least.

  2. Thanks for your comment. You are right... physical change can impact our self esteem - a new haircut is a good example. But the feeling is fleeting and I believe that long-term, sustainable and TRUE happiness and self esteem must come from working on your internal self.

    When I initially began typing this post I wrote a paragraph about Avery in particular, as her story is quite unique and very interesting from a feminist perspective. If I was going to vote for one of the contestants, I would vote for Avery for the reasons you mentioned above.

    Anyhow, thanks again for reading and commenting. This is definitely a complex issue and I am still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about plastic surgery. It is not a black-and-white issue, that's for sure!

  3. Thanks for posting your thoughts, I hope you'll tune in tomorrow at 8 when we announce the winner.

  4. As a woman, I reject the so-called feminists who attempt to tell me how my body must be (natural, unchanged, unaltered, accepted as-is), just as much as I reject the sexual objectifying and youth obsession of popular culture in its attempt to tell me how my body must be (thin, shaven, blonde, etc.). Neither group is a valid critic as to the choices I'm empowered to make about my body, and the feminist attempt to strip validity from my right to control the presentation of my own body is just another insidious attempt to direct other women for their own good.

    That is, I share your concern for young women who may grow up feeling lower self-esteem or other problems resulting from society's attempt to normalize only certain body presentations. But I don't think doing essentially the same thing - normalizing only certain body presentations (i.e. natural, unaltered) is any better of a solution. It certainly disrespects my autonomy just as much.

    I don't know whether I would ever surgically alter my body. But I know that women undermining the credibility of women who do, is offputting and sad.