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Mammoth mammaries not cosmetic

Published Jan 15, 2022


Breasts came up for examination by the couch science council this week.

Well, more down, really.

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I’m not a big petition signer, but this one is close to my knee ‒ an old family joke: I was warned never to try to shoot myself in the heart because I would blow my kneecap off.

These accursed appendages are the subject of a petition by and a group called Breast Reduction Support South Africa to get medical aids to recognise that huge boobs are a health hazard, physically and mentally, and not cosmetic surgery.

Back in the early ’90s, my mom suggested I have the op. The surgeon wrote a letter of recommendation and medical aid agreed to pay for it. They removed 900g of ugly tissue.

I think I was among the last lucky ones, because a few months later, a colleague with the same problem was denied.

I was elated. I even wrote a before and after story for the Tribune. No more backache and headaches and bad posture and cost-the-Earth bras that left deep dongas in my shoulders. Big top (truly like a circus tent) clothing was exchanged for halter tops, spaghetti straps and even a bikini. I could stand up straight. It was life-changing. People commented on how much weight I had lost ‒ none, actually, except for the 900g that spread and gathered down around my waistline.

I could even go for a jog without bruising said knees.

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This wonder lasted a couple of years until, in spite of having my tubes tied, I found out I was five months pregnant. That’s a long story on its own, but the point here is, to my horror, they grew back. Not only that, they needed heftier and uglier support and a return to the back pain, headaches, rounded shoulders and big tops. And, later, back surgery.

Monthly cancer checks are impossible because there’s just too much tissue. Excruciating mammograms can’t do the job properly and these appendages still need to be scanned to double check.

My medical aid has spent more on repairing damage to the rest of my body caused by these mammoth mammaries than if they had recognised the problem and would pay for another reduction. Hell, they could even just lop ’em off.

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I know young women who have been so affected by oversize breasts they have spent months and years saving for the surgery, money that could have been used as a deposit on a home. For women not on medical aid, the state should offer the service.

As with many “woman’s” health issues, the people who make the bulk of these decisions are men. I suggest anyone who has that power should wear two 500g sandbags hanging from their necks, with clothing to accommodate them, for six months.

A meme which seriously p***** me off recently explains why that won’t happen while men mostly make the rules (and frankly I was shocked at the many laughy faces posted as “likes”). It said “boobs are to men what lasers are to cats”.

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It is a painful syndrome. From personal experience, I tell you this is not amusing and I have a raunchy sense of humour that’s not easily offended.

To sign the petition go to

  • Lindsay Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday