Danica Patrick recently removed her breast implants and asked this provocative question on an Instagram post:
“How can I do the emotional work to see myself as perfect, having it all, and feminine?”
The short answer is: You can’t.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all about emotional work before, during, and after breast implant loss. In fact, I think inner work is the only way you fully heal after breast implants. But like Danica indicated in the rest of her May 4th post, there are some rather problematic narratives involving breast implants, including their promises to make you more perfect. And though explant removes those promise-breaking bags from your body, it doesn’t remove the toxic messaging that convinced you to get them in the first place.
Women find their way onto the implant table due to powerful, deeply-ingrained, and socially-conditioned beliefs about breasts.
Your mind can never fully unlearn these beliefs because of how it works with language and cognition. Just as you don’t forget the language you know simply because you learn a new one, a part of your mind retains the unhelpful beauty standards it learned about women’s bodies—even when you realize breasts have nothing to do with your worth. To make matters worse, and contrary to popularized ideas, you cannot command your mind to “just forget” something. It will always hold society’s rules about women’s bodies.
As a result, your mind will never declare you to be “perfect.”
Though you can’t forget, delete, or eject those unhelpful beliefs—and you live in a society where they’re continually reinforced—you can bust free of them.
But like Danica reflected in that same post, “The work is always an inside job.” As a psychotherapist who explanted in 2018, I agree with that statement—personally and professionally.
Explant’s inner work includes stepping back from wanting to see yourself as perfect. Because, in order to attempt that goal, you must convince yourself that the rules about women’s bodies are wrong. And even though the rules are bullshit, when you mentally challenge one of your socially-conditioned beliefs, you keep it at the front of your mind. That mental trap has the unintended outcome of highlighting and reinforcing the very thing you want to dispel.
In reality, I don’t think Danica’s question was meant to be taken literally. I’d love to talk with her about her experience and reflections, but I suspect her question simply acknowledges that finding a way to see yourself as perfect provides a worthy talisman when surrounded by toxic messaging about how you ought to appear and what makes a woman complete, feminine, and better. Perhaps she wants what most women crave after explant: To know how to fully accept ourselves and see that we are enough, despite the messaging and predatory marketing that surrounds us.
To do that, I encourage women who explant to aim for something different: an unshakeable practice of self-acceptance. Not only is that something you can learn, but it’s something you can do. I see self-acceptance as a choice you make and an action you take. Rather than chasing external validation, the pursuit of self-acceptance is completely under your control.
I know that’s easier said than done. So I translated all of the evidence-based inner skills I use in my psychotherapy practice to create an inner healing program for women whose life journey includes breast implants. (You can learn more about it here.)
It’s the foundation for my forthcoming, first-of-its-kind self-help book, Busting Free (anticipated summer 2022). Busting Free helps women prevail over the mental, emotional, and social challenges before, during, and long after breast implant removal. Its readers forge a self-acceptance practice they can use the rest of their life, no matter how their body changes or what standards society endorses.
You can keep “abreast” of its release here.
In the interim, you can learn more about navigating the psychosocial side of breast implants and their removal by following my blog at amandasavagebrown.com. To connect with other women seeking inner healing on their breast implant through explant journey, join Breast Implant Through Explant Inner Companions.