Breast augmentation is performed by a licensed cosmetic surgeon who inserts implants filled with saline solution, silicone gel, or other substances under the natural breast. Implants come in different sizes to increase a patient’s bust size according to her wishes. Every year, thousands of women go under the knife to increase their bust sizes. If a Christian woman has the support of family and friends and has the financial means for surgery, should she consider getting breast implants? The answer is in her answer to another question: Why?
The “why” behind any decision reveals a lot about our hearts. No woman seeks breast augmentation surgery because of the health benefits it affords. Neither are breast implants necessary for mothers who wish to breastfeed infants. The only reason a woman would place herself at physical risk and spend thousands of dollars on breast implants is that she believes the surgery will make her more attractive or will improve her self-esteem. Such a belief is grounded in a certain perception of what the “ideal woman” looks like. Some men pressure their wives or girlfriends to have breast implants, but not for the woman’s benefit. When a man pressures a woman to undergo breast augmentation, he is saying that her natural body is not stimulating enough for him and she must alter herself surgically before he will be pleased. Breast augmentation surgery (as distinct from breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy) has only one purpose: increasing attractiveness.
Men and women have different reasons for supporting breast implant surgery, so we will deal with each of those motivations separately:
Men: In our sex-saturated culture, it is sadly true than men may find a small-busted woman less appealing than the surgically enhanced actresses and other women he has seen. A husband may believe that, if his wife could make herself look more like those women, he could live out his fantasies. He may even think that, if his wife’s body fulfills his fantasies, he won’t be tempted to look at other women. However, the problem is not his wife’s body. The problem is in his mind (see Matthew 5:28). A man who pressures his wife into having elective surgery for his sake is not loving her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25–27). He is not urging her to take care of herself; he is creating insecurity in her for the sake of his own lusts. He is handing her a measuring rod by which she may now judge herself. Perhaps without realizing it, he is starting a news ticker scrolling across the back of her mind: You are not enough...You are not enough...
A godly husband would not demand that his wife get breast implants to spice up their sex life. Rather, he can and should train himself to make his wife’s body his standard of beauty. If he has polluted his mind with pornographic images, he needs to repent, invite accountability, and recognize his sexual brokenness. He has allowed lust to take root in his heart, creating expectations that cannot be satisfied by normal, healthy sexual relations. No real woman can compete with the fantasies created by pornography.
Of course, women with big breasts are not restricted to pornographic material, and a man may find himself inadvertently and even involuntarily drawn to women in his everyday life—even to friends of his. He may think that, if his wife’s chest can compete, he’ll be better able to honor both his wife and the other women in his life. What he may not realize is that he’s avoiding responsibility for his own reactions and placing it on others instead. He is shirking the hard work of sanctification that would enable him to respect people as they are.
A husband’s first step away from the idea of his wife getting breast implants is to ask the Lord to purify his thought life and redirect his attention toward his wife as she is. Instead of insisting that their sex life be about his pleasure, he must begin viewing their intimacy as an opportunity to make his wife feel cherished. He can use the Song of Solomon as a template. In this book, the bridegroom praises every physical feature of his bride. A husband can retrain his desires by praising those features in his wife that he finds attractive. When a husband views sexual relations with his wife as a chance to give, not get, his desire for her to get breast implants may naturally fade away.
Women: Women often feel the pressure to be sexually appealing, starting as early as elementary school. Childhood is being exploited as young girls are dressed provocatively, aided by clothing companies that produce sexy clothes in tiny sizes. When unthinking parents buy their 6-year-olds t-shirts that say “Hottie” or underwear that says “Kiss Me,” something is badly broken in our world. The message planted in little minds is that being sexy is a girl’s most valuable asset. It is no wonder that, when those little girls grow up, they measure their worth by their bust size.
When a Christian woman considers breast augmentation surgery, she should first ask herself, “Why?” Why does she believe she will be happier with larger breasts? Who in her life is sending her that message? If it is her husband, she should point him to what the Bible says about beauty. If it is the men she has dated, she needs to look for higher quality men. If it is her own relationship with culture, she needs to reorient herself as to her allegiance. Whom is she trying to please? Servants of Christ do not try to win the approval of fellow human beings (Galatians 1:10). Culture must never be allowed to set the standard for personal worth. Christian women have been adopted by the King of Kings and granted citizenship in heaven. It is that allegiance that must inform her every decision.
Another “why” behind the desire for breast implants is one that a woman may not realize or wish to admit. Sexual attractiveness is powerful. Teenage girls discover this power early, and, for some, it can be intoxicating. They learn to play the game, using their physical beauty to manipulate others and build their own egos. When they sense their power slipping, some believe they must regain it, leading them to get a “boob job.” Christian girls need to recognize this trap set by the enemy and turn their attention away from attracting guys to pleasing Christ. Instead of settling for the thrill of sexual attention, a wise woman will develop her mind, her talents, her character, and her leadership potential. She understands that those elements are where the real power is found.
A Christian woman considering breast implants also needs to consider when she began to believe she needed bigger breasts. The “when” may hold the key to a deeper wound. What message did she come to believe at that time? Whom is she allowing to define her worth? Does she really want to be with a man who is only attracted to her because of her breast size? For some women, aging is the catalyst for body enhancements. Aging has been declared the enemy in modern society, and many women fear it. After all, if a woman’s primary worth is found in her physical appearance, then aging is indeed an enemy because it threatens that worth. Many women in midlife allow themselves to undergo plastic surgery in an attempt to cling to the illusion of youthfulness.
Midlife does not have to be a crisis, but it is a perfect season for reassessment. A woman can reorganize her life as she switches roles and creates a new normal for herself and her family. Rather than cling to youth, an aging woman can embrace the character she has developed and seek ways to impart her wisdom to younger women (Titus 2:3–4). She can take stock of what she has accomplished and harness her skills to impact her world in greater ways (1 Peter 3:3–4). Breast augmentation at this age is often a sad and desperate attempt for a woman to pretend she is someone else. God wants so much more for His daughters.
Women who are considering implants should carefully evaluate the future health risks experienced by many women who have implants.
A Christian woman must learn to value her body the way God designed it, and she must care for it as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). If she flaunts her sexuality in order to attract male attention, she is not honoring God’s temple. She is exploiting it by inviting lust. A Christian woman needs to be honest with herself about the purpose of implants. Male attention may be intoxicating, but it is a shallow win. As the adage goes, “Don’t advertise it if it’s not for sale.” Christian women are not for sale. They have been “bought at a price” by God, and He loves His daughters just the way they were made (Colossians 1:16).