Cameroonian Breast Ironing
In Cameroon, female breasts are considered shameful. As a young woman begins to develop them, breast ironing is a painful attempt to inhibit the natural growth.
Female kin use scolding hot spatulas and pestles to flatten young girls’ chests. This excruciating female body modification is meant to make the women less attractive to men, in the hope that the young girls will not get pregnant and will have a chance to finish their education.
Young girls start the procedure at eight or nine years old by wearing tightly wrapped bandages around their chest to prevent growth. The hot tools are assumed to melt the fat of the breasts, but the practice is never successful in diminishing growth.
Moreover, the procedure can destroy a young girl’s physical and mental health. Cysts, breast cancer, and breastfeeding issues are common for those who undergo the agonizing ordeal. Psychological scarring is almost unavoidable; many of the girls are ashamed to reveal their bodies, do not want anyone to touch their chest, and have a hard time maintaining a physical relationship with boyfriends or husbands.
Most breast ironing victims seek to earn enough money to get reconstructive plastic surgery–but the physical scars often do not at all compare to the psychological ones.