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2068 words
SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Ten Ways of Looking at Boob Jobs

by R.A. Rycraft

The breasts I knew at midnight beat like the sea in me now.
—Anne Sexton


The basic Boob Job is not necessarily a matter of choice. Take my own, for instance.

I never wanted one. But menopause hit with its extra twenty pounds (and counting), and I have a free Boob Job. I’d say nature has out-jugged itself when it comes to my bust—not to mention the rest of me. Turned my 34Cs into 38Ds. I stand in front of the mirror and check out my bare breasts. I tell myself, They don’t look so bad. Your fifty-five-year-old puppies look pretty good, especially when you factor in the four kids they’ve survived. Pendulous, maybe, but not bovine.

I turn this way and that, cup them in my hands, push them together, evaluate the cleavage and am shocked to realize that no push-up bra is going to help. Clearly, gravity and two pounds of connective tissue, ligaments, milk-glands, fibroid cysts, and fat are sufficient to push them over the edge. The weight of them sagging into the bra-cups, Judi Dench-like, rather than spilling out of them, Helen Mirren-like. That blue corset I wore as a “treat” for my honey before his research trip to the Yukon nine years ago? History. The black leather one I wore for our eighth anniversary? Hasta la bye-bye, baby. Any sexy-little-thing that’s a “Medium”? Gone.

So far, I hear no complaints from my honey even though he once proclaimed perfect my 34Cs—“a nice, perky handful.” He is silent about my matronly rack. The way it fills out blouses, sweaters, and lingerie; the way it weighs down a bodice and reveals too much cleavage or pulls at frontal buttons. Not one word. Mum’s also the word for the not-so-pretty, seamless underwire, full-coverage, full-figure bras. He is a wise man.


The Jobs of Boobs include the following: attract a mate; boost aesthetic effect; convey the life and death powers of female deities; embellish the chest; enhance a sense of self; fill a man with delight; flirt, tempt, and seduce; interact with partners as sex, fetish, and erotic objects; nurse a child; provide subjects for art (the simply nude, the suckling mother, the suckling lover, the ravaged woman, the Venus on a half shell); reward men in Muslim Paradise: voluptuous/full-breasted virgins with large, round breasts, which are not inclined to hang (oh, yeah...the virgins will also be non-menstruating, non-urinating, non-defecating, childfree, and possess “appetizing vaginas”); shape clothing; substitute for paint brushes; suggest femininity; supply names for mountains and restaurants; work as business assets, sexual signals, milk-squirting deadly weapons, and vehicles for drug trafficking.


Before her Boob Jobs, D. told me she suffered from low self-esteem because of how she looked during adolescence, pointing to the “ugly” middle school pictures taken before she had braces—her first augmentation. If you could see the dramatic before and after difference, you might appreciate how the ordinary experience of successful orthodontia predisposed her to the assorted aesthetic interventions that pepper her life. The thyroid medication she took not because she had thyroid disease but because it helped her lose weight. The morph into fashion freak, starting when she was a teenager, escalating as she approached middle age. Approached now. The diets. The Zone. The South Beach. The Nutrisystem. The Jack LaLanne Juicer juices. The bioidentical anti-aging hormones. The expensive face and body creams. Clinique. Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle and UV Damage Corrector. Repairwear Laser Focus All Smooth Makeup. Repairwear Intensive Eye Cream. Which didn’t work. Which suggested a face lift. Which suggested a Boob Job. Which wasn’t enough. Which suggested another Boob Job. Which seemed to satisfy D’s lover. Which seemed to satisfy D. too. Which seemed to cure her low self-esteem—for now.


Heaven help me. My granddaughter has boobs. One day she was my sweet, little flat-chested grandchild. The next she’s my sweet, grown-up and curvy grandchild. The staples of her wardrobe? Tight camis under tight t-shirts. The layers enhance rather than conceal. The necklines plunge. And she has beautiful, eye-catching cleavage. Oh. My. God.


Famous Boob Jobs: Artemis is particularly well-endowed with about seventeen teats—or is it two teats and fifteen bull testicles? If you want your phallic arrow to fly straight and true, you cut off your right breast like Amazon warrior queen, Hippolyta. Martyr Saint Agatha of Sicily’s breasts? Crushed and hacked off. Picasso dislocated his subjects’ shard-like globes in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Germaine Greer burned her bra and liberated tits everywhere. Those bad, blond girls in Austin Powers? Their knockers sprout cannons. Lady Gaga’s bazongas can shoot fireworks as well. Joan of Arc and Gwyneth Paltrow bound their bumps to look like men. Barbie had a reduction. Elizabeth Edwards had a double mastectomy. Olivia Newton John reconstructed hers. Christina Applegate lopped hers off in a pre-emptive breast cancer strike. Chastity Bono decided hers were optional, added a penis, and changed her/his name to Chaz. Porn star, Sexy Cora Berger, died during her sixth enlargement surgery (34F to a 34G), doctors telling her husband as she lay there dying, “The brain damage was too big.”


My lesbian friend baked her lover a cake. We’re not talking about your regular, run-of-the-mill flat cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles. No. As it happens, while scrounging around in the cupboard, she discovered heart-shaped pans once used for a Valentine’s Day party. And there, inside the hearts, were the sports ball pans she’d used to try to make a baseball cake for her son’s first birthday—eight years ago. Seeing the half balls upside-down in the hearts like that gave her the idea. A bikini cake. They’ll make nice ta-tas, she thought. The two hearts, with a few nips and cuts, made the perfect hour-glass shape. And then, with a glob of icing on the flat side of each half-circle and two straws as anchors, my friend did her Boob Job magic. She iced the cake smooth with flesh coloring. Nude, the buxom, no-nippled torso was unnerving, but my friend wasn’t yet done. There was the skimpy, blue, string-bikini bottom yet to be applied. After that, she painted a hot pink butterfly tattoo on one hip. The final debate was whether to cover the areola area with a couple of ribbon tassels or flower pasties. She finally opted for a matching bikini top, leaving the strings untied with one erect nipple exposed. The laces spelling Favicon Just across the upper chest and For Fun across the bare belly.

In a magnetic frame on the fridge is the snapshot my friend took capturing her lover’s reaction to the cake. She is, of course, grinning like a Cheshire cat.


Tomorrow your daughter gets a Boob Job. Your baby. Just twenty-four. And she is getting a boob job because, she tells you, she is done having and nursing kids. Nursing your two adorable granddaughters obliterated her breasts. Not that she had much to begin with. And while you don’t like the idea, you get it. She did not inherit your breasts. No. She inherited the small, fried egg-shaped breasts of your sister, the same breasts found on an aunt, several cousins, and one or two of your nieces; breasts that do not fill a bodice or shape a sweater without a thickly padded Wonder Bra. Your aunt and sister reconciled themselves to their cleavage-less chests.

As far as you know, only one of the cousins could afford an enhancement, the same one who has four or five kids. The same one married to an oral surgeon and living in a high-priced Southern California community near the beach. But then, technically, your daughter shouldn’t be able to afford a boob job. She is a stay-at-home mom. Her husband is the family’s sole provider. Theirs is a tight budget. Yet, somehow, she has the money, having squirreled away earnings from odd jobs, like selling airbrush tattoos at Mud-Runs and 4th of July carnivals, and saving her half of income tax refunds. You’re not surprised, really. Your daughter is patient and relentless when she wants something.

And she wants new boobs.


J. said, I want those movies out of my house. You watch them when I’m not home. You jerk off to them on the couch when I’m in bed.

Her husband said, If you watched the movies with me, maybe it wouldn’t be an issue. I’d get excited; you’d get excited. Voyeurism feeds desire. Don’t you know that?

J. said, It’s not just that they’re vulgar; it’s that I’ll never be porn-worthy. What real woman can compete with a perfect-bodied, submissive nympho? What happened to the eroticism of simple lovemaking?

He said, You might try bikini wax. A Boob Job. I could get you one for Christmas.

J. said, Fake boobs and boobiferous are not synonymous.

He said, Sure they are. And we’d both get the breasts we’ve always wanted.


Many Boob Jobs has E.

A. A mastectomy. The impact of the empty space hits hard. Surprisingly unanticipated. Unexpected. E. has always worn layers, so there’s no need to hide what’s missing with a wardrobe change. It’s just that she doesn’t feel like wearing colors anymore. E. is more into black with white...mostly black.

B. A reconstruction. E. hates the prosthesis, but she wants to fill out her clothes; she wants a natural look with or without cleavage. But then the doesn’t work out as hoped...more hard chest mound than soft breast. Not that it matters. The fact is she can’t imagine ever letting a man fondle anything on her chest again, can’t imagine taking off her top for a man again, not since her husband said, I didn’t think it would look like that.

C. Redux. A few years later, the cancer invades E’s remaining breast. Another empty space. Less unanticipated? Less unexpected? E. can’t say for sure.

Back in her hospital room, E’s husband says, There was a problem; he says, The doctor closed you up.

At which point he leaves for home.

Fourteen excruciating hours later, the doctor tells E. the problem is her skin—not metastasis. She’s not going to die. Not today, anyway.

D. Another reconstruction. E. is disappointed. The new chest mound is higher, larger, and harder than the old one. Her arm is swollen to three times its normal size. But it is her skin that causes her the greatest concern. It is thin and giving at the seams.

E. Enhancements. E. has made several important decisions. It’s time to leave her husband, so she rents a little house and moves in alone. It’s time to risk a new relationship, so she allows herself to get involved with a friend. It’s time to make love again, so she does—with her blouse held firmly in place. It’s not as if she’s trying to fool anyone. The man knows what’s under the blouse. And she’s beginning to believe he won’t turn away in disgust should it slip loose. But for now, he doesn’t push to see what’s hidden, and she doesn’t offer to expose much, preferring, instead, the most extraordinary of pleasures: cuddling with him on the couch.


My eighty-something-year-old neighbor claims that sooner or later in every woman’s life boobs, the jobs of boobs, and Boob Jobs become irrelevant. Take hers, for example. She was a curvaceous 1940s bathing suit model. Movie star material—Ingrid Bergman comes to mind. But then she fell in love, got married, and had a few daughters. A typical woman of her era, she gave up her career and embraced the role of stay-at-home mom—a good thing since the pregnancies took their toll on her model’s body—particularly her breasts. Hers was a happy, till-death-do-us-part marriage, and that took its toll, too. The lithe look of her model days was lost forever, evolving into a form she prefers and finds more comfortable—a home body.

Then her husband died. She’s not inclined to replace him. A few years after his death, she required a double mastectomy. She’s not inclined to replace her breasts, either. She says, I’m done. There will be no more men. She says, Why conform to a self-image we cannot sustain or make work for us?


—First published in Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging,
edited by R.A. Rycraft and Leslie What (Serving House Books, 2012)



SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

R.A. Rycraft

has published stories, essays, reviews, and interviews in a number of journals and anthologies, including Pif Magazine, VerbSap, Perigee, The MacGuffin, and Calyx.

Winner of an Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award for 2008 and a Special Mention for the 2010 Pushcart Prize, Rycraft is chair of the English department at Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee, California, where she was recently named Faculty of the Year.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury