In my continuing quest to lighten up and at least slightly de-Obamafy this page, I’m weighing in on the pressing question posed by this Time Online piece: does breast augmentation lead to—or is it a sign of—impending divorce?
Since I’m the sort of stuffed shirt (pun intended) that I am, I immediately turned to scientific research to find out. Alas, the article’s contention that there is a connection is not heavily supported (nor is it heavily refuted) by scientific research. All I could find in an admittedly very quick Googling was this, and the relevant passage from the Google page (“…have found that breast augmentation patients, as. compared with other women, have a higher divorce rate…”) does not appear at the link, which only contains a summary of the research.
Disclaimer: I’ve never had cosmetic surgery of any sort, although I may be one of the last people in America to be able to say that. But I’ve known several women who have undergone breast augmentation, and in only one was this a prelude to a divorce. Hardly a definitive sample, though.
I’ve watched the tide of breast augmentation turn into a tsunami over the last decade or so. It spread from southern California, a place I know very well, to the most distant reaches of the country, partly through the mechanism of celebrities and models for whom the perfectly unnatural rounded-on-the-top-as-well-as-the-bottom breast has become de rigueur.
It’s gotten to the point that the regular shape of women’s normal breasts, even when young—with which most men have seemed perfectly happy, even delighted, for lo all these millenia—has become for too many women a matter for shame and intervention. I’m not talking about those women with true deformities, or who are perfectly flat-chested; I’m talking normal.
If the boob jobs and divorce claim is true, what could be the reason? A woman might get a breast “enhancement” because she’s already thinking of fleeing, and she wants to soak him for the bill (ah yes, such things do happen in this world). Or the surgery might be something she undertakes under pressure from him although she doesn’t really want it, and then it gets added to the pile of other resentments that lead the couple in the divorce court. I suppose it’s also possible that it’s the husband who doesn’t like it, and it causes him to split. Or it might lead him to become more suspicious of infidelity, if he’s the jealous type, and that could poison the marriage enough to tip the balance towards divorce.
A while back I wrote about another growing trend, one with less visibility: the shoring up of the saggy earlobe. That post contained the following passage, extremely relevant to the other type of shoring up under discussion today:
I’ve long owned a fascinating book entitled The Unfashionable Human Body. It describes the lengths to which people have gone throughout history to overcome their essential boredom with the unadorned human form. Clothes are part of this effort, although of course they have many practical considerations as well. Jewelry likewise, minus the practical. But, especially in areas where clothing as we know it is more or less optional, the body itself became the plastic clay to be molded by humankind’s driving need to not leave well enough alone.
The variety has been astounding. For example, the book has a lengthy chapter, with illustrations, on foot-binding, one of the saddest chapters in the annals of what people are willing to do for beauty and an enhanced ability to attract the opposite sex. In this endeavor, as in present-day female genital mutilation, the practice involved not just the preferences of the opposite sex, but the cooperation of older woman themselves in foisting it on young girls to perpetuate the custom and increase the girls’ desirability.
So-called “civilized” people are hardly immune to such machinations. The whalebone corset was responsible for a great deal of the female fainting that went on not all that long ago in Western life. And I’m old enough to remember a time when even young teenagers were expected to wear girdles (and, believe me, those things were uncomfortable) any time they wore a garment that was in the least form-fitting, lest they be betrayed by a tell-tale jiggle.
My own grandmother came from an era in which the assumption was that, without such support, the body would slide, jelly-like, into a state of amorphous shapelessness; even the feet and ankles needed high-sided shoes to shore up their innate tendency to “spread” and weaken.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It’s only the methods that have evolved and changed—whales being endangered species now—as well as the body parts that contend for the honor of our most intense concerns.