Verity Johnson: I wanted a boob job when I was 15

OPINION: When playing a Prosecco-sodden Truth or Dare, the ultimate question was asked: "If you had plastic surgery, what would you get?"

The response from me and my five friends was unanimous: a boob job.

It's always been the boob job for me. I've toyed with getting one since I was 15.

Now, I'm a well-educated woman and I like to think I'm rational and responsible. I know all of the arguments why getting a boob job symbolises the imposition of sexist, archaic principles that force patriarchal expectations on women.

But I've thought about it and it seems like I'm not the only one.

Last week I hosted our Newshub Facebook Live show where we discussed whether the pressure for plastic surgery had gone too far in New Zealand. A lot of the comments were from older, Baby Boomer-generation viewers asking, "Do young women really feel pressure to get surgery?"

Yes. Yes we do. And it's not just the 'certain type of woman' you probably think it is, aka some vapid blonde on the GC called Tiffany. Tiffany does feel the pressure. But so do people like me - university educated, feminist young women. We feel the pressure.

What seems confusing from the outside is why? Aren't we supposed to be the empowered generation? Aren't we supposed to be the most egalitarian, body confident, kick-arse ninja women the world has ever seen?

Yes. And no.

I suppose we're very good at looking very confident. There seems to be a general consensus that my generation dresses increasingly like hookers (a fact I can attest to as I was mistaken for a hooker on the weekend by one of said Boomers).

We have Tinder bios that boast things like "my gag reflex is as absent as my father figure". And we seem to have no reservations about getting our bits out on Insta.

So then why are so many of us considering surgery?

You know the rule that if a person is very loud and forward they're normally deeply insecure inside? The same principle applies here. We may project a lot of confidence but it can often be to cover up for feeling worthless.

Sometimes you post a sexy photo because you feel like shit and need an ego boost.

It's even worse growing up with social media, which by nature of being a visual medium reinforces that looks are all important and that we need looks to be loved. Oh, and the most dangerous message: that these unachievable bodies are in fact totally achievable.

Don't just automatically sigh, "That's stupid, you should just ignore social media." Of course we should. But we can't. It's easy to say that when you haven't grown up with it, and have that much more distance and perspective on its twisted take on reality.

When you take heightened insecurity, a pressure to be hot and the increasing ease and acceptability of surgery, what do you get? Millennials who think about boob jobs.

So if I'm such an insecure mess, why didn't I go through with it?

I guess I had a few brushes with honesty. I had a few, rare, conversations where people admitted they either liked my boobs, hated boob jobs or really just didn't care about size.

It shouldn't take a man to say, "I love your small boobs." But it does. You've been told every man demands watermelon boobs. So when someone loves your lemons, the raw honesty is transformative. It's just very rare.

We need honest conversations that say, "Ignore that social media shit! We don't actually care about your boob size! IT MATTERS ABOUT AS MUCH AS WHETHER YOU PREFER HUMMUS OR TATZIKI."

Verity Johnson is a Newshub reporter and columnist.

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