DEAR ABBY: "Doesn't Want to Lose Him" (Dec. 16) wants breast implants, but her boyfriend is against it. I had breast augmentation at age 27 for the same reasons she wants them. I was flat-chested, and clothing, especially summer clothing, never fit or looked right.
My husband was supportive, and it turned out to be one of the best things I've done for my self-confidence. I not only became more outgoing, but my career also took off.
I want to urge "Doesn't" to talk to her plastic surgeon about her goals. She shouldn't allow herself to be pushed into a larger size than she feels comfortable with, and she shouldn't be unrealistic about how it will change her.
She implied that the surgery wouldn't alter who she is inside, but isn't that her goal -- to have more self-assurance? She'll see a big change in her life. It will be gradual, but she'll become a more confident version of herself.
She should forget the boyfriend if he can't find it in himself to be supportive, because if she does get the implants, I predict that in a year, she will have outgrown him anyway. (Pun intended.) -- KNOWS WELL IN SAVANNAH
DEAR KNOWS WELL: Thank you for your comments. Readers had various reactions to this letter. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I doubt that implants will give her anything more than a superficial boost in confidence, because external attractiveness is fleeting. I'd suggest she look inward for self-esteem rather than try to paste it onto her outsides. Values such as kindness, compassion, development of her talents, expanding her awareness and being of service to others will give her self-esteem to last a lifetime.
I've been small-breasted all my life and admit that sometimes I have wished I had more "up front," but now at 66, I have a healthy, fit body and have learned self-acceptance. -- M.H. IN BERKELEY, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: I was lucky my husband didn't have any objections. I had it done, but never expected the pain to be so bad. I felt better about the way clothes looked on me, but that feeling didn't last.
I recently had them removed because I suspected they were leaking (saline). They were uncomfortable. I could sleep only on my back. Running was not fun. They didn't feel natural and they didn't look great naked. I realized having them was a big mistake.
Afterward, I found out they hadn't leaked; they had just "shifted." I feel better now and no one noticed anything. I've heard others love their implants, but I just wanted to let "Doesn't" know there are some women who regret having it done. -- LEE IN HILO, HAWAII
DEAR ABBY: I wanted breast implants about 10 years ago because my proportions were off and clothes didn't fit well. My then-boyfriend tried to talk me out of it, but I didn't listen.
Abby, I have never once regretted getting implants. I'm happy, healthy and more confident. Looking back, I believe my boyfriend tried to talk me out of it because he was afraid of other men noticing me. He'd say things to make me feel self-conscious about my appearance. I suspect he knew I'd eventually wise up and the surgery would expedite it. Today, I'm married to a wonderful man who doesn't mind my assets at all. -- HAPPY IN BRANDON, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: There's a strange irony here. The greatest challenge to the woman's self-esteem is her boyfriend -- not because he is against the implants, but because of the belittling way he talks to her. In keeping with her low self-image, she has chosen a mate who feels threatened by her desire to be more confident.
A nurturing boyfriend would lift her up more than any breast enhancement could. If she had a more supportive boyfriend, she would probably decide she didn't need the surgery. What a paradox! -- JON IN BALTIMORE