I'm a person with an anxiety disorder and depression. It's not out of the ordinary for me on a bad day to cancel my plans because I can't find a shirt that "feels" right on my skin.
But I've never really stopped to think how my boobs have affected my mental health.
It turns out, that maybe I should. Our boobs are something we struggle with as women. No one it seems is perfectly pleased with the way that their boobs look. But this dissatisfaction can have seriously negative results on a woman's health and happiness.
Studies about women's breasts and mental health reveal some pretty shocking truths that make it clear that we need to change the way society teaches women to think about their bodies. It's literally a matter of life and death.
Here are some of the ways our boobs can seriously affect our emotional well-being:
1. Boob size causes depression and unhappiness.
70% of women report feeling unhappy about their breast size. That's right, being told your boobs are too small or too big, being unhappy with how they look, that can cause general unhappiness. This unhappiness is a driving force for women who are getting breast augmentations, which is still the number one most popular cosmetic surgery being performed today.
2. You can get body dysmorphia
The way we see our boobs is informed by popular culture. Because of this we have lost the ability to see our boobs as they really are. It's like a gender-wide body dysmorphia. Boobs come in all shapes and sizes, but our brains refuse to believe that. John Zannis, a plastic surgeon from North Carolina says “We have this idea that upper breast fullness is beautiful, and that is really something that [rarely occurs] naturally.”
3. Boobs create adolescent insecurity
Because being a teenager isn't hard enough, as a developing woman it can feel miserable to develop too slowly and feel left behind. It can also make you feel miserable to develop big breasts too quickly. Studies have shown that girls who develop big breasts early are at higher risk for eating disorders, drug uses, and depression. 3% of all breast augmentations performed in this country are performed on girls between the ages of 13 and 19.
4. The size and shape of your boobs create low self-esteem
Size isn't the only factor that effects women mentally about their breasts. A recent study showed that women with asymmetrical breasts were far more likely to suffer from low self-esteem than other women polled. They feel stigmatized by clothing companies for being different, and from their peers for not looking the way they do.
5. Suicide risk increases for women with breast implants.
While plastic surgery is indeed an option for most women and one countless women have found to be helpful, there are some things that just can't be erased by a doctor's scalpel. The emotional toll of living with unsatisfactory breasts can be brutal. Six major studies have found that women with breast implants are FIVE TIMES more likely to kill themselves than other women. They also have a higher rate of psychiatric hospitalization due in part to the low self-esteem and depression that can be caused by how a woman sees her breasts.