Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 23rd June

Every-so-often I find myself speculating about this whole ‘living with one boob’ thing (and wondering about one –sided bras). I think that some of this comes from the basic need for comfort. It’s about me and how I feel. There is really no sense of needing to appear to be normal, or any sense of having to look like I’m expected to.

There is a question that crosses my mind, though – sometimes: What is it that persuades most (if not all) women who have a single mastectomy to do something, basically, to fill the other side of the bra?

I have also been thinking about the whole question of reconstruction, not so much for myself as for anyone. Why do women do it? How much of it is about looking normal? How much is personal and how much just societal pressure?

On the other hand, is there any form of pressure at all for ‘lop-sided’ women to do something about correcting the balance?

There must be something, though, because, based on the number of stories I’ve heard about women who’ve had cancer, let alone mastectomies, there must be a whole fleet of women out there with only one boob. And yet, I doubt I’m aware of encountering anyone, ever, who are ‘lopsided’.

For me, it’s still not a question of needing / wanting to feel ‘like a woman’.  My sense of identity at that level is definitely not tied up in my physicality. A change, especially a necessary change, to that does not mean any alteration in the way I see myself as a female person. Perhaps, twenty or more years ago, I may have felt differently, but I doubt it. You don’t change that fundamentally, even after all these years.

For me, this doesn’t mean that I think that anyone else is wrong, especially women who feel that they need to have two breasts, as this is part of who they are.

I suppose it depends on the individual and the reasons for something like a mastectomy.

I am slightly cynical about someone, especially a celebrity, who chooses to have both breasts removed for preventative reasons, but then basically shows off the reconstructions – as though having boobs, especially big ones, is the way that a person has to be. It seems to me to be a public statement to women who have had breasts removed because of actual tumours (not the possible threat thereof) that having breasts, looking ‘like a woman’, is the necessary way to be.


I was kind of forced to give up on the reconstruction route, because my body was not happy with the tissue expander. Straight after the mastectomy, though, I knew I was not sure about even having it done. Now, it’s a situation where it’s partly my choice and partly that I really don’t have a choice, but I know I won’t have a reconstruction.

For me, it’s about what I want and how I feel, not what ‘they’ may expect and what others have done.

I still think there should be some form of one-sided bra, though!

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