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Jim A.

Women, beauty and self-image

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There is a photograph floating around on the Internet that has ended up on my Facebook timeline. You may have seen it. It shows a woman with a beautiful face, but her chest is exposed and you can see that she has had a double mastectomy. Above or below the photo is a caption that tells you to click on "Like" if you find what you see attractive, and implies that if you don't, there's something wrong with you. I take it this was aimed primarily at male viewers. I did not find the woman's absence of breasts attractive, and I feel no shame for that. The attempt to induce guilt in male viewers for preferring beautiful women who still have their breasts may be the motive of the photographer and of the individual who posts such a photo, but it only serves to diminish and trivialize the seriousness of the decision a woman has to make when she's choosing whether to have a mastectomy, single or double. That has to have some sort of effect on a woman's view of herself, and of her own attractiveness. Is there anyone who actually thinks that Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy was easy?

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The photo and posting imply that a woman is just as attractive without her breasts as she is with them. If that is true, then a woman would have no problem deciding to have her breasts removed. "A mastectomy? Oh, sure, why not? What the heck!"

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I think they are looking for acceptance despite the damage to aesthetics. However, acceptance of the reality of an undesired look, doesn't make it aesthetically pleasing. Damage had been done, and that is what needs to be accepted. That is no reflection on the character of the person suffering this.

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It is possible that, as you say, the people posting the photo might be seeking acceptance for women who've had mastectomies. That would be understandable, but if acceptance by others and not self-acceptance (or self-love) is the objective then posting photos of such women with their chests exposed is not the way to achieve it. I don't know what would be the right way; I just don't think a posting like that is.

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