“We have consent and choice in everything that we do in life, and that includes cosmetic surgery.”
Loving my body has been a lifelong journey. I’m a first-generation Filipino American. I grew up with traditional Filipino values, and my parents had a very colonized mindset around beauty. Body image was a challenge. My struggles with body image are not merely about willpower either—they are societal, cultural, and familial. Sadly, these issues are only exacerbated by cultural stigmas around mental and emotional health—which, for many of us, meant we grew up with a lot of confusing messages about how we should look or how we should eat.
Not only do a large majority of Asian and Pacific Islander women struggle with body image issues, but there’s also so much stigma around mental health and treatment. After my parents were told by mental health professionals that I was chemically imbalanced when I was 15 years old, I can’t tell you the number of times my parents told me to pray away my depression.
Photo: Tonhya Wysong
One of the biggest struggles I see now, as our body acceptance movement continues to grow, is a lack of representation. Don’t get me wrong—I love what I’m seeing now, and I fully support all my beautiful sisters out there sharing their stories and empowering women to embrace their bodies, no matter what size. Growing up, there weren’t very many women who looked like me in the media, so having to get to a place of loving my body meant having to step boldly and bravely out of the boxes that even my own family and Filipino community tried to keep me in.
I became a mother at 21. I experienced the transitions inside and outside of my body that all women experience. Like most mothers, I also experienced the confusion of trying to love motherhood while not being happy with the changes in my body that came with pregnancy and having a baby—the stretch marks, loose skin, and deflated breasts after breastfeeding.
After I was done breastfeeding my first daughter, I remember looking down at my breasts with disgust. They were deflated, there was no shape to them, and I just felt—for lack of a better term—used. That was when I began to flirt with the idea of breast augmentation, but 18 years ago there was still so much shame and stigma around plastic surgery that I tucked that thought away for almost 10 years.
In 2015, I made the decision to get a breast augmentation. The decision for me to finally go for it was after I had my second daughter. There was a moment when I had looked at my body naked in the mirror, in acceptance of the changes my body had gone through, and loved the shape of my body, with my breasts fuller because of breast milk. For the first time in my adult life, I felt like a woman.
During those moments of nursing, I felt the deepest and most connected to my feminine and sensual energy. My breasts felt full, voluptuous, and filled with love for life. This was the feeling I wanted to embody in myself even after I was done breastfeeding.
Now, nearly seven years later, I’m still so happy with the intention behind the decision and the choice I made to have a breast augmentation. The inspiration and feeling I wanted to embody was something I communicated to my surgeon, and I’m so glad he truly listened and gave me the results I desired.
Photo: Hannah Siddiqui
Like I tell my sex and relationships coaching clients: Your body, your rules. We often forget that as human beings we have consent and choice in everything we do in life, and that includes cosmetic surgery.
I began to experience my body as an instrument that had the ability to play the most beautiful song of love if I chose to see it that way. So, I did. My body is a transmitter and receiver of energy, sensations, and love.
Body confidence to me is the ability to feel at home in your body, no matter the shape or the size. I know I’m in my power when I am able to choose bravery over perfection. I know I’m in my power when my soul is so turned on for life in anything that I am doing.
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