June 30th, 2008

Boob jobs, divorce, and the unfashionable human body

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.

19 Responses to “Boob jobs, divorce, and the unfashionable human body”

  1. Sergey Says:

    All these artificial deformations of woman bodies in the West pale in comparison to what some African tribes do, for example, by elongation of necks or ear-lobes by a dozen centimetres, or Chinese, shortening feet by binding them so girls hardly could walk without external help. And even the Roman custom to shave beard is very unnatural, too. I never could figure out what for millions of men subject themselves to this rather unpleasant everyday procedure.

  2. BrianinFairOaks Says:

    Another possible explanation:

    There might be a correlation between women (people) that are dissatisfied with their bodies and willing to undergo surgery to change them and between women (people) that are dissatisfied with their relationship and willing to undergo divorce to change it.

  3. njcommuter Says:

    And even the Roman custom to shave beard is very unnatural, too. I never could figure out what for millions of men subject themselves to this rather unpleasant everyday procedure.

    Perhaps because it really gets the chicks.

  4. Dave Moelling Says:

    The difference between men and women in this area is that for most men the role playing part of appearance is very low compared to women.

    Body shape is just part of the overall costuming that women do from an early age. My guess is that any change in “character” including dress, hair color, etc. can indicate a preparation to divorce or other big time change. Supposedly, men suddenly getting into shape is the same tell-tale.

  5. Artfldgr Says:

    Dave Moelling,
    You just made me thing of a song by the group Berlin. “Sex (I’m A …)”

    the corus’ as a list reflects your point

    I’m a man – I’m a goddess
    I’m a man – Well I’m a virgin
    I’m a man – I’m a blue movie
    I’m a man – I’m a bitch
    I’m a man – I’m a geisha
    I’m a man – I’m a little girl
    And we make love together

    I’m a man – I’m a boy
    I’m a man – Well I’m your mother
    I’m a man – I’m a one night stand
    I’m a man – Am I bi
    I’m a man – I’m a slave
    I’m a man – I’m a little girl

    I’m a man – I’m a teaser
    I’m a man – Well I’m a virgin
    I’m a man – I’m a one night stand
    I’m a man – I’m a drug
    I’m a man – Well I’m your slave
    I’m a man – I’m a dream divine
    And we make love together

    I’m a man – I’m a goddess
    I’m a man – I’m a hooker
    I’m a man – I’m a blue movie
    I’m a man – I’m a slut
    I’m a man – I’m a geisha
    I’m a man – I’m babe

    as you can see this is the reason why there is no victors secret, and if there is he is more likely to be in the large section of victorias secret. 🙂

    men who could be enticed by novelty, sired children… men who couldnt, didnt.
    women who were willing to be novel, sired children.

    this kind of thing is across all kinds of lines

  6. Peg Says:

    Whales are not endangered species….

    Alas; I am living proof! (It does get harder and harder as you age…..)

  7. Amused Observer Says:

    It’s the conventional wisdom around these parts that that gals get a boob job on the way out and the corollary is no man that pays for a boobjob gets to enjoy it.

  8. SteveH Says:

    I think this whole phenomenon speaks to a people who foolishly think the hole in their souls can be corrected with physical image.

    I suspect teenagers throughout time have suffered from this delusion. But 45 year olds doing it is uniquely the result of a prosperous societys lack of maturing adversity and sacrifice.

  9. Right2thePoint Says:

    I keep thinking of all those boob jobs years down the line and my mind can’t escape the image of as a kid carrying a sock full of marbles to school for recess.

  10. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    If the boob jobs and divorce claim is true, what could be the reason?

    How about after getting a new set of bolt-ons, a woman is now getting more attention from all sorts of guys. Some of them appear to be better than what she currently has. So she jumps ship.

    Personally, I can do without implants. I like a bit of variety. Small ones? I’m good with that. Big ones? them too.

  11. Richard Aubrey Says:

    One year, in college, I dealt with two attractive women. Great bone structure, model-attractive from the toes to the waist, and extraordinarily well represented on top.
    One was a colleague at work, one I dated.
    Both dressed so as to ameliorate their riot-causing effect when in public. My colleague routinely wore what I think is called a shift. Round neck, straight down in all sides to the knee, not a bit of shape. I think it was tailored to be longer in front because, for all its journey, the hem was ultimately level all around.
    The other one was less shy about it when were out socially.
    Both told me at one time or another that they were dieting. Neither needed to lose weight. It was before Twiggy and the ideal was padded something like Monroe. They were, I thought, pretty much okay. But it was, I thought, a matter of reducing their bustline.
    My colleague wrote to me once when I was in the Army and finished her letter by remarking that she and her mother had gone shopping for dresses and her mother, whom I knew to be forthright, said one dress made her look like a cow. I have a suspicion she was making things difficult for a soldier, with various pictures suggesting themselves.
    While they got a lot of attention, it didn’t do either of them much good. My colleague was unlucky in love and her only marriage didn’t last a year, and the girl I dated briefly didn’t date much before she met one guy who is, afaik, not particularly interesting and they divorced on grounds of boredom, hers, I believe.
    Point is, what other women pay for they considered an inconvenience and the idea that women like that always have their choice from among huge numbers of panting guys might be generally true, but not for them.
    So what to the boobjobbers find they are getting?

  12. TmjUtah Says:

    Corollary to your post, I notice that the population of actors and models parading by in print and video seem to have passed the median in “who’s had work v. who has not”.

    An endless parade of harnessed watermelon halves, tethered beneath granite angular chins, exploded lips, and expressionless eyes…

    … and those are the “beautiful people”?

  13. soccer dad Says:

    Maybe the operation is a latch ditch effort to get the husband’s attention.

  14. hrrmmm Says:

    Ladies, don’t get boob jobs. 90% of them look awful.

  15. OBloodyhell Says:

    > Ladies, don’t get boob jobs. 90% of them look awful.

    I’ve seen some models who, before and after, I understood the self-desire to do it — if a girl is perfect in almost every other way, but flat chested, there is a natural desire to enhance the “one thing wrong” ( Not saying I agree with doing it, but it’s understandable).

    But lots of women with what are perfectly adequate ones get them larger for no intelligent reason from my point of view. If you’re a b-cup, it’s enough. Anyone tells you you need more, they are idiots, ignore them (again, if you’re less than B, that doesn’t mean I’m saying “do it”, mind you)

    I got really ticked off at Playboy when a model they used by the name of Brandy Richey — a truly gorgeous girl, and naturally a “large” b-cup, was told that if she wanted to appear more in the magazine she’d need to get them turned into “D”s. She turned them down, thankfully. Too many other girls don’t.

    I’ve seen girls who did have boob jobs that you could not tell at all, and from what I’ve heard and read, it’s partly surgeon, partly sense (listening to the doc when he tells you what the best/maxmum cup size you can take) and, finally, proper post-operative care — which is really one of the biggest problems and makes the least sense to me. After such surgeries (all surgeries, I gather) you are supposed to massage the tissues to discourage scar tissue formation. The reason for the stiffness, if it’s not getting “them” too large, is most commonly this as I understand — more often even than the quality of the surgeon. So, even if you’re too lazy to do it for yourself, you’re saying you can’t get some GUY to do it for you? “Can you come over and massage my tits?” LOL. You can find guys that will volunteer to do that for you even WITHOUT sex as a reward.

  16. HanginOn Says:

    I can definately see why breast augmentation would lead to higher divorce rates. My wife was forced to have both breasts removed due to cancer concerns. She chose to replace them with considerably larger plastic ones. Within the first year she has developed a need to switch to ultra tight shirts to highlight her new assets. She now feels the need to dress up and hit the clubs (without me) to bask in the attention. Even though I hope she has no desire to cheat, she lives for the attention that she can suddenly attract. I have some fears that if she puts herself in this position enough times, it will lead to infidelity.
    This also leads to additional tension. It’s hard for me not to feel a little insecure when I’m trying to compete with bar guys that don’t have the added baggage of paying bills, maintaining a household, and raising a family that I share with my wife.
    I’m hoping that this is a phase that she will outgrow. When I voice concerns, I get that famous question “don’t you trust me?” If anyone has any suggestions or advice, I’d love to hear it.

  17. In the same boat! Says:

    I hear you on that one, bro. My wife got large implants two years ago and I noticed her entire demeanor begin to change, escalating to staying out all night and even disappearing for a week. She started dressing like a teenager and sharing my daughter’s clothes, and she wears those heels that you can only get at stripper shops.

    Her latest stunt was to walk out on the entire family, kids and all, and announce that she had “lost herself along the way” so she was leaving. Of course she drained the bank accounts and took the money and took off looking for a bigger fish to fry.

    I agree with the statement above that said the guy who pays for the implants never gets to enjoy them. My wife always used sex and food as weapons anyway, so I barely even got to see the damn things.

    I had even been in a doctor’s meeting where this subject was brought up about how women can go bonkers and destroy the family after implant surgery, but I thought 22 years of marriage was solid enough to handle it. How wrong was I?

    I was against the surgery from the start, mainly because someday they are going to need to be removed, and how well will the woman take that surgery in her 70’s or above..

    I also think they look like crap and are not as attractive or feel anything like people would think. She is in for a rude awakening if she thinks her new boobs will land her a big fish who will think they are worth making any sort of long term commitment for. If the person is flawed in the first place, big boobs are not going to solve that problem.

    She also said she was getting them because they would help her self esteem after having them deflated from childbirth. But I saw no increase in her self esteem at all after the surgery. She still hides herself from me, but not to the rest of the world.

    It is really an embarrassment at this point to have her running around town like a teenager, and many of my friends and associates are beginning to notice. She has decided to hang around an entirely new crowd of friends, because they tell her what she wants to hear. Our long time friends for years and years all think she has absolutely lost her mind.

    At this point she has officially signed over the house, the cars, the kids, everything, and she is gone..

    All you need to ruin your marriage is a wife teetering even slightly on the edge of unhappiness, AND JUST ADD BREAST IMPLANTS!! AND JOILA.. YOU’RE DONE!!

    Old fashioned Jerk ( so I have been told. lol.. )

  18. Francesca Webb Says:

    divorce is always not a good news but it maybe necessary if relationships aren’t going in the right direction.,-

  19. sexy pinays Says:

    sexy pinays…

    […]neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Boob jobs, divorce, and the unfashionable human body[…]…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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