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Bygone Days, Barbie Boobs and Breast Boosters

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I was looking at old photos the other day, remembering days spent with my girlfriends dreaming about the future. As adolescents, our first topic of interest was boys, naturally, but we also wondered what we could do to look like the fashion models and movie stars we envied. In particular, we longed for Barbie boobs. Out came the socks and toilet paper for stuffing, and the old chant, “We must, we must, we must build up the bust!” Anything we could think of to bring on the curves, anything!

This nostalgia sent me poking around the Internet to see how things may have changed since then. I was surprised to find the options for “natural breast enhancement” (read: “without surgery”) going strong. In fact, if you look around you’ll find there are more ways to boost your boobs than ever, given that today you can even purchase breast enhancement gum on line. Gum—I kid you not!

As a youngster I remember seeing magazine articles about increasing the size of your breasts through exercise. That seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I know that breasts are made up of milk ducts and fat—not the sort of tissues that are influenced by exercise. Of course strength-building activities are great for keeping muscles toned. But they won’t increase cup size, no matter how many articles are out there advocating push-ups and other moves to “promote the growth of the breast area.”

When I was a kid I also noticed ads for “miracle” creams and wondered if they worked. Even then I couldn’t figure out how something you rub on your skin could make your breasts larger. Well, turns out I was more right about your average topical treatment. Forget about it.

Pills and the infamous gum are a different story. Though there’s no solid evidence that they work, experts say they could possibly have a slight breast enhancing effect for some women. That’s because the touted “natural herbal extracts” and “ingredients used for centuries” have an estrogen-like effect on the body. One of my favorite references, www.mayoclinic.com, suggests that the use of these products may increase the risk of certain gynecologic cancers and may interfere with other medications. Not only that, should breast pills or gum actually work to some extent, you have to stay with them to maintain their effect.

Then there are the breast pumps. Not the ones used to extract breast milk for infants, but those that “work” to enlarge the breasts through tugging, pulling and suction. The top of the line models will set you back up to a few thousand dollars, and the manufacturer may suggest they be worn up to 24 hours a day for months! Any slight size change customers may experience is due to irritation and or skin stretching. Ouch.

As for me, I soon grew to be curvy without having to resort to any of these methods. True to the notion that no one is ever satisfied with what they have, there were times in my early teens when I wished I weren’t so busty!

For those who developed in a more minimalist mode and aren’t happy about it, I’m afraid there’s no magic solution. Breast augmentation surgery is generally safe and straightforward today, and breast implants last longer and look and feel more natural than ever. Plastic surgery can be an option for women who feel their small breasts hold them back in ways that truly impact their lives.

Clearly, though, breast enlargement through cosmetic surgery is not for everyone. If surgery isn’t an option for you, I urge you to skip the creams, pills, gum and bizarre equipment. Perhaps the answer is to make the most of the shape Mother Nature gave you, enjoying your trim self.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Yes, great article. A good friend of mine once went through the agony of having breast implants only to find out afterwards that they were defective. She had them removed and replaced and then was unhappy with their size. She had yet another surgery, but as a consequence of these surgeries, she's experienced a lot of damage to her breast tissue and skin. So when these current implants need to be replaced in a few years, she doesn't know what she's going to do.

I think a lot of women don't think about the fact that they'll most likely need a future surgery or more when they get breast implants.

July 11, 2009 - 11:28am
EmpowHER Guest

Awesome article!! So glad you're shedding light on all of the so-called miracle creams and other rip-offs. The breast pump you mentioned cracks me up! I don't know who would ever want to resort to that.

July 11, 2009 - 11:19am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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