Making a point | The Monthly

In a soft-furnished clinic within Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital, a revival is under way for the first things most of us put in our mouths. Here, nipples are being made anew. “We do around 10 a fortnight,” says tattoo artist Jenny Langdon. A neat blonde woman whose own skin is devoid of ink, Langdon works most days as a plastics clinical nurse consultant next door at the Royal Melbourne, but on Thursdays she works at Australia’s first nurse-led nipple tattoo clinic.

The clinic is the last stop for many breast cancer patients.

Grief about disfigurement can be so powerful that some patients wait for years before receiving new nipples. “Some ladies get out of the shower and avoid looking in the mirror,” says Langdon. Many are left feeling androgynous and drained of vitality. Nipples are libidinal pathways carrying different facets of femininity, and their loss can generate a primal grief for those who’ve breastfed. Decades after ceasing lactation, some women report their nipples aching when hearing a baby cry. (Mamma, from which mammal, mummy and mammary are derived, is Latin for breast.)

Plastic surgery remains dominated by male surgeons, with mostly women as their patients.

Source: Making a point | The Monthly

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