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Who is Melissa Febos? Writer talks all things breast reduction surgery

Shania Wilson May 16, 2022
Credit: Family Action Network YouTube.


Writer and professor Melissa Febos opened up about her breast reduction surgery in a personal piece for The New York Times Magazine, prompting praise for her candidness.

Febos outlined the objectification of her body pre-surgery, tweeting: “I underwent the experience and it illuminated so much that I needed to think through it the best way I know how.”

The author’s experience of breast reduction surgery was well-received on social media, with many recounting their own experiences of the procedure and detailing how it has had an impact on their life.

So, who is Melissa Febos and how is she inspiring the female community with her work? Here’s what we know.

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Who is Melissa Febos?

Melissa Febos’ latest article for The New York Times is earning buzz, but you’ve likely come across her name before.

An author and professor, Febos is responsible for notable works including Whip Smart, Abandon Me, and Girlhood. 

Melissa’s work, comprising memoirs and candid essays, has earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Indie Next Pick title, and prizes from Prairie Schooner and The Sewanee Review.

Publication-wise, Febos’ work has been featured in major outlets, including Elle, The Guardian, Vogue and, of course, The New York Times Magazine.

The 41-year-old also serves as an associate professor at the University of Iowa, teaching in the non-fiction writing programme and on the board of directors for VIDA: Women In Literary Arts for five years.

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Author pens personal piece on breast reduction surgery

Given how open and honest her previous work has been, it was no surprise Melissa Febos decided to pen a personal piece on undergoing breast reduction surgery.

The writer outlined the objectification she had faced before deciding to undergo surgery, sharing: “It seems clear to me now that any feminist position on cosmetic surgery that doesn’t take women’s relationships to their own bodies into account actually objectifies them.”

Opening up about her decision to undergo surgery, Febos continued: “One day, I simply asked myself ‘would I do it if I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone?’ The answer was a resounding yes.”

Post-surgery, Melissa reflected on no longer keeping her body a ‘secret’. She wrote: “I had always experienced my body, particularly my breasts, as something I needed to keep hidden or to manage.

“In the first weeks after my surgery, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because the sight of the incisions made me woozy. Instead, I asked my wife to look and tell me what she saw. I stood and opened my shirt. It felt like baring myself to the sun for the first time. How warm it was. How quickly I had stopped treating my body like a terrible secret.”

Read the full article at The New York Times Magazine.

Melissa Febos receives flood of praise following surgery article

A week after Melissa Febos published and shared her personal piece on surgery, the praise keeps coming her way.

Readers are recalling similar experiences with breast reduction, telling the writer just how much they relate to the sentiment behind her personal essay.

“A wonderfully written piece by Melissa, honest and open as always,” one person tweeted.

“Everything @melissafebos writes is truly a knock out. Today’s must-read is her @NYTmag piece on body dysmorphia, feminism, perception, breast reduction and more,” another wrote.

“This piece by @melissafebos on cosmetic surgery achieved a rare thing: it made me change my mind about unexamined prejudices. Wise and deeply felt,” somebody else wrote.

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Shania is a Magazine Journalism graduate from the University of Derby. Her main passion is rooted in print journalism, however, she also branches out towards social media and is also interested in public relations. Outside of writing, Shania enjoys using social media, reading, and drinking coffee.