On Why True Body Acceptance Comes from Within

girl european appearance decade hugging herself on a blue background retro

your body is yours forever. love it from Day One.

I THINK THERE’S SOMETHING about breasts that really hold a woman’s power.

Boobs, tits, jugs, melons – no matter what you call them, they bounce when she walks, pull her dresses forward, and provide milk for the world’s children. In a modern pop culture such as ours, it’s hard to deny all the progress women have made when it comes expressing parts of their body that were formerly taboo. From Kardashian curves, songs about “that bass,” and Sports Illustrated catalogs with beyond-buxom women, to Amber Rose’s Slut Walk and campaigns calling for the liberation of the nipple — we’ve come a long way in certain regards. But there are, of course, some more personal epiphanies I’ve had myself. I need to share them.

Being transgender gives me one of the most unique perspectives you can possibly have. I have lived my life as both genders. I can firmly see the differences in treatment. Beyond that, I can see the effects of our environment. I don’t jog at night anymore. I limit the time I stand still on the street. If I’m taking the train, I make sure to have headphones in case a man tries to bother me. All these are things I never thought to monitor — especially not the clothes I wear. With the media praising full-bodied women in images, I thought my breast augmentation would make me more of a woman. And it did in many ways. I became a big female target.

Walking down the streets of Los Angeles, I found the male population of Hollywood — already a motley crew at best — was willfully, daringly, and — dare I say — passionately staring at my chest. It’s Hollywood Boulevard, in the 90s, on a sunny day — so what if I want to wear a dress that gives away some chest? If anything, it’s to ventilate my underarms so I can avoid pit stains. Men began to comment on my body. A man actually blurted out at a street corner: “Damn, some women just WANT you to look.” I was angry. I’d waited half my lifetime to find a part of myself, a part of my mother, my sisters, and here I was being a showoff for some greasy, slobbering men on a Wednesday afternoon? It occurred to me that in public, while I was healing up after a rough recovery, that my new boobs had become raunchy and sexual to others. Sure, it’s human nature to note someone you find attractive. When I saw Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Beverly Hills, I couldn’t help but think: “Yes, come through, British hottie.” I didn’t say that though, obviously.

On the vast spectrum of bodies, Leia falls somewhere in the middle, standing 5-foot-6 with a C cup. Would I have been more happy back at B or up at D? It occurred to me on the walk home, tearing up, that while social media can completely sell you curves, it means nothing if you weren’t happy from the start. If you’re like me, with high-profile silicone, you have to realize that C cups could be the new faux pas next year. Finding emotional or mental security in our bodies is a flawed system. While pop culture promotes this new body acceptance, remember that plenty of people are still dieting, corset training, and going under the knife for this ideal body we are choosing to accept. See how the message can be a positive one, but the wording seems all too similar and damaging?

I got breast augmentation to be free. I didn’t do it to wear revealing tops, have guys talk to me more, or feel like I stand a better chance of being in a Meghan Trainor music video. As the world changes, so does the ideal woman we dream of being. My boobs help me feel like more of a woman than any song or magazine could, because they’re a permanent part of me not subject to promotional ads or Instagram comparisons. Fads come and go, but stable female confidence is something we need more than ever. The truth? Pop culture doesn’t make women, and plastic surgery doesn’t make women, either. Women make up womanhood, and we deserve to be happy with our bodies.