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Summary: It’s no secret that the days of the obviously fake “boob job” are long gone. At the same time, the primary motivation in choosing breast augmentation is clearly to increase cup size. When it comes to implants, is the bigger choice really the better choice?

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Early Prototypes of Beauty

Judging by the ample curves of the Venus of Willendorf statuette, the celebration of the curvy female figure literally goes back tens of thousands of years. An ample bosom and wide hips were hallmarks of a woman’s ease in bearing and nursing children, definitely their most essential role in primitive society. The full-figured look maintained its popularity into the early Renaissance, when the well-known artist Peter Paul Rubens painted so many curvaceous nudes that the representative body type even today is often referred to as “Rubenesque.”

By the Victorian era, slimmer women were well in vogue. Instead of augmenting the breasts, corsets cinched waists tight and compressed the breasts for a flatter, more triangular look through the torso. In those days, the standard of beauty was to be frail, almost sickly, and constantly on the verge of collapse (hence the popularity of the “fainting couch”).

Moving into Modern Day

In the 20th century, breast size and shape seems to shift by decade. For example, small-breasted women were all the rage in the 20s and 30s, yet the more statuesque, glamorous look immortalized by film stars like Katherine Hepburn and Lana Turner took over by the 40s. Marilyn Monroe made the 50s all about the hourglass almost single-handedly, but then Twiggy and Mia Farrow turned the tide back to slender, subtle figures by the 60s and 70s, helped along by the skinny-chic of the hippie culture.

The 1960s marked an important turning point for both beauty trends and breasts: the invention, manufacturing and distribution of silicone and saline breast implants. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that by the time implants really gained momentum in the 80s, the emphasis was decidedly on less-than-subtle results. Women who opted for implants were proud of their newly enhanced figures, and the “bigger is better” attitude served as a reflection of the decade as whole as well as their bodies.

21st Century Ideals

The excess of the 80s is long gone, and with it, the dramatic, semi-spherical profile of early breast augmentation surgery. Surgical techniques and implants themselves have evolved to the point where women of the 21st century can choose breast augmentation without anyone being able to quite put a finger on why they seem so much more attractive suddenly.

Yet, discretion isn’t the only new trend in implants these days. It’s challenging to find any modern woman who isn’t committed to her morning jog or at least participating in a weekly yoga class. The emphasis on staying fit and active has had a huge impact on implant size; women want enhancement, but they don’t want to give up their healthy lifestyles. More modestly sized implants are the perfect happy compromise.

The truth is, there is no longer any one beauty standard for women. Instead, the emphasis is on making the most out of each unique body for results that are the most flattering to the individual. Whether that’s small, large or somewhere in between matters far less than the whole package, and plastic surgeons place an emphasis on crafting results that look beautiful and natural rather than indiscriminately bigger.

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