ART 302: Reading #5

Beauty and Business by Philip Scranton

Natural vs Enhanced Beauty

We all have different perceptions of femininity and beauty. What might be unattractive to you, might be the most beautiful thing to another person. Sadly, our health issues and society might put us in a position where the social perception of beauty is considered unattractive, unfeminine, and sometimes unacceptable. When it comes to women getting a mastectomy, they feel like they’ve lost a sense of femininity and beauty. Losing a breast to them is correlated to many different extremes. For example, the fact that if they’re single, they have already lost a chance in finding a mate, and if you’re married, you wonder if your husband will find you “attractive” without a breast. These are things that society has triggered into these women into believing that in order to keep a man, you have to have two, full, healthy breasts.

A  way for post-mastectomy women to feel “normal and feminine” again, breast prostheses were created in 1872 by Frederick Cox. He took a chance to see how widely accepted these prostheses would be and after receiving many patent applications, they discovered that the market for these medical prostheses was evident. They were marketed as to”fill bodily depressions caused by the removal of female breast and pectoral muscles.” Catch phrases like “Restoration of the female form is what advertisers would promote. Also catch phrases as “a sense of balance,” “realistic appearance” were psychological advertisements would make women post-mastectomy want these prostheses right out of the surgery room and if they would not get them, they would be considered unbalanced and unattractive.

Also, through the years, a phenomenon with the enhancement of the female form was occurring. In 1940s, breast forms were seen more as for augmenting the breast rather than using it as a prostheses. This relates to the idea that using a breast form that would augment your breast size would produce a “new, attractive figure.” This created a sense of beauty emphasis of the breast prostheses, unlike the medical usefulness that was why it was created originally. Cosmetic emphasis really created an issue where these prostheses were used for post-mastectomy women who used them as a “healing process” and a way to feel balanced and having these prostheses to enhance breasts you already have created a rift among medical advantages and beauty advantages.

Cultural assumptions of the 1950s implied that breast prostheses offered a woman a means to restore a normal physical appearance after breast cancer surgery and thereby improve her mental health.” Its amazing how a medical advancement can have such a great impact of women who have suffered breast cancer and have lost a breast over it. The prostheses can be seen as positive and negative but in perspective, if it makes a woman feel better about themselves, it is truly up to them if they wear it. Now, if society and this artificial perception of beauty has psychologically convinced these women if by wearing the prostheses, they can “cover up” and “hide” the negative side of having a mastectomy, then it should be a matter of embracing what you have and not being ashamed of it and covering it up with an artificial breast. Feeling beautiful should not be what you see on the outside, but rather what feel from the inside.

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