Straight Talk Advice

Teen with “man boobs” top bully target

Sep 29, 2015

Gynecomastia surgery worth it to escape cruelty over “moobs”

Dear Straight Talk: Your recent column about girls worried about being flat-chested compares nothing to the troubles for guys who are not. Guys with man boobs are among the most persecuted in high school. I was a chubby kid and my “moobs” came on during puberty. Even though I’ve lost most of the weight, the moobs remain. Guys grab them, call me “Tits” (including in front of “blind” teachers), and mock me online. Girls laugh at me, too. (I now understand how women feel objectified with guys assuming the right to grab or talk about their bodies.) Most guys with gynecomastia have too much shame to ask for surgery. My stepfather bullies me over it. Most of us avoid athletics, collapse our posture, or eat to escape. —Brian, 17, Eugene, Oregon

Breele 21, Los Angeles, California Ask me a question

I owe you an apology. In eighth grade, a boy had breast buds and another guy commented (to us both) that his boobs were bigger than mine and we both laughed at him. I’m so ashamed — I’ve got the worst stomach churn right now. Today, I’d rather be a loner if being cruel is what occupies people’s minds. Millions of men have surgery for gynecomastia so do not be ashamed about it. Get work, save money, and the summer before college, start a new life! Use this time for self-development. Read the news, take up fencing or another athletic skill, dump video games and/or porn [if applicable]. After surgery, your skill set and interesting mind will further your confidence. What will other kids add to their résumé? Bad habits and knocking people?

Samantha 23, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

I'm sorry for the ridicule you face and am disgusted by the bullying. Are they unaware of its connection to depression and suicide? I encourage you to find someone kind and trusting to talk to — the school counselor, for one. Also, don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. My boyfriend is down on himself because he feels overweight and has moobs. I'm always telling him to love himself. He still takes his shirt off, runs and swims. He's got enough trust to share his insecurities with me and enough confidence to not care what others think. Fake it till you make it.

Elle 19, Boca Raton, Florida Ask me a question

I suggest joining an online support group for gynecomastia and a youth group, even if you’re not religious. Most are supportive and uplifting with leaders trained in empowering young adults. Taking positive action really helps. Victors take action, victims remain inert.

Meghan 19, State College, Pennsylvania Ask me a question

I’m one of those flat-chested girls who felt bad about herself for a long time. The struggle ultimately strengthened me, but I’m ashamed to say that during my insecure years, I probably snickered and commented about your condition. In high school everyone is so unhappy with their bodies they belittle others to feel better. The adults you describe remained juveniles. Make a plan. What is best for you? Standing up to your peers, stepdad, the sophomoric teachers, and/or ignoring them all and getting surgery on your own terms? You have a life ahead of you.

Dear Brian: Self-development and a positive action plan will boost mental health and I hope the panelists’ ideas are helpful. A full 36 percent of teen boys have gynecomastia. In 75 percent of cases, it goes away by adulthood as estrogen drops off. For those with severe cases, society is cruel and I support you in getting the simple, permanent gynecomastia surgery. If you can bear it, ask your mom or bio-father privately for surgery; it is often covered by insurance. Until then, or you get surgery on your own, meeting with the school counselor will further raise self-esteem from the inside — and wearing a compression shirt will from the outside.

  1. By Lori, age 17, from Carmichael, CA on 09/29/2015

    Our younger brother has “moobs”  and it is Hell for him and me and my sister are really worried about him.  Their not really that big, but big enough to be noticeable and he isn’t able to hide them no matter how hard he tries.  To make matters worse, the jocks at the school think that this means he’s gay which is totally untrue.  But that’s what everybody thinks and he’s constantly harassed and bullied over both the moobs and allegedly being gay.  He has no friends.  Girls just laugh at him and any guys who started to be friends with him were immediately labeled gay, so guys won’t get near him either.  His name’s Steve, so they’ve changed his name to “Stephanie.”  Several times he’s found bras hung on both his hall locker and his gym locker.  He tries to put up a good front, but we can see how depressed he is and his room is right next to ours and we can often hear him crying quietly at night.  Since he has no friends, he never goes anywhere and just stays in his room.  Reading the columns about teen suicide the last 2 weeks really gets us worried even though he hasn’t actually threatened to do anything like that.  The doctor says he’s too young for surgery since his body is still growing and that the problem is very likely to correct itself anyway.

    I’m almost flat chested and they even say things like “you’ve got bigger tits than your sister” which we both find very humiliating but they think its hysterically funny.  I’ve always envied my sister’s much larger breasts and feel jealous having to see them every day when she undresses since we share a room, although she doesn’t “show off” to make me feel bad like some I read about when this was a topic in Straight Talk.  However, I agree with Brian that being a girl with small breasts is nothing compared to what guys with breasts have to go through.


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    1. By LAUREN, from on 10/06/2015

      Lori—I’m glad that your parents at least took him to a doctor. Of course, he will probably outgrow it… in 75% of the cases boys do! But why should he suffer the kind of abuse you are talking about in the meantime? I think the doctor has no idea the level of abuse and how psychologically dangerous it is. Also, please note that if he says the breast tissue is sore, they will probably do the surgery no matter how old he is. Maybe he should go back to the doctor or see a different one. Please tell your parents what you’ve told me here about your brother crying and all that he suffers at school and suggest they go to another doctor.

      In the meantime, why not buy him a couple of compression shirts?—Love, Lauren

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  2. By Jim, age 16, from Lodi, California on 09/30/2015

    I face the exact same issue of being labeled gay just because I happen to have “man boobs.”  I think it’s incredibly stupid to think that having this condition has anything to do with sexual orientation, but that doesn’t stop the rumors, especially when they’re spread by the popular jocks.  It’s bad enough to have this condition without being labeled gay on top of it.  I’m not sayin there is anything wrong with being gay, and I sympathize with them since I face the same type of harassment and discrimination, but the fact is I am totally straight.  Since nobody else will be friends with us for fear of being labeled gay, I’ve become friends with another guy with the same condition who is my only friend and I’m his only friend. Otherwise we would both be friendless.  So, of course, everybody thinks we’re “lovers” who have sex with each other and we are constantly harassed and bullied over it.  My sister tried to fix me up with a friend of hers and we hit it off really well, but she got teased so bad about going out with someone like I that our first date was also our last one and the only date that I have ever had. 

    And please don’t anyone tell me to go to the school authorities.  Despite the schools anti-bullying policy, anyone who complains only gets bullied even worse for doing so.


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    1. By LAUREN, from on 10/06/2015

      Jim—I am so sorry for the way you are being treated. I too think it is incredibly stupid that your peers think gynecomastia has anything to do with sexual orientation. Obviously you are dealing with ignorant, insecure juveniles.

      I do worry about the effects of such bullying on you.

      To me, if a condition that causes intense bullying can be changed without too much trouble or expense, why not do it? There’s no shame in that and families have been doing nose and ear jobs for their kids for generations to protect them from the effects of bullying. As well as gynecomastia surgery! Many boys out there would be suffering just like you if their parents hadn’t stepped up. (Ladies, the need for surgery does not apply to small breasts, as they are NOT that big of a deal, as Lori notes, and are a sign of beauty.) If a compression shirt does not do the trick (and I hear they are amazing), or even if it does, I totally recommend asking your parents for gynecomastia surgery. It’s simple and permanent (as opposed to female breast augmentation, which, is NOT simple or permanent. It leaves an implant that must be monitored and changed regularly with future surgeries.) 

      My research also shows that with gynecomastia, if you say the breast tissue hurts or is sore, insurance will cover it. (I added live links to both the compression shirt and the insurance coverage in the main article above.) I hope you will look into it and appeal to your parents. I’m actually shocked that a parent wouldn’t offer it – especially with the Affordable Care Act, which provides insurance to everyone now. It looks like even the poorest families on Medicare would be covered for this surgery if you say the breast tissue hurts.

      I hope this is some help to you and I wish you strength to get through these days. –Love, Lauren

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  3. By Gina, age 16, from Medford, Oregon on 10/02/2015

    I’m the opposite of Lori.  I’m big busted and get teased for that.  Guys whistle and even “moo” at me which I find very humiliating.  So it looks like girls get it both ways.  We get teased if we’re big busted and if we’re flat chested.  You have to be “just right” to avoid this.  And it’s not just the guys.  Like others I’ve read about, I get accused of “showing off” by girls who are less endowed and are jealous of the “attention” they think I get from guys because of this when I’ve done nothing more than undress in front of other girls in situations where it is necessary and don’t go out of my way to hide my body, but neither do the girls who accuse me of “showing off.”  And it’s often not easy to hide your body when you need to undress with others like in the locker room and especially when your naked in the showers. How do you hide your boobs then?  Even my stepsister has accused me of this when we share a room during visitations and undress in front of each other, but I think it’s really jealousy since she’s flat chested, but I don’t put her down because of it.

    Enough of my venting.  I thought I had it bad as a big busted girl, but there is a guy at school with pretty large “moobs” and as Lori says he has it much, much worse than girls who are teased about either being large or small busted.  He is also labeled gay by people who have no idea whether he is or not.  I really feel bad for him, and wish I could help him but I don’t see what I can do about it, and as others have said the schools “no bullying” policy is worthless to protect kids from things like this.


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  4. By J.D., age 16, from Toledo, Ohio on 10/03/2015

    My twin brother and I are similar to Lori and her brother, but it’s even worse for us since we’re twins and kids think it’s extremely funny that he has larger breasts than I do.  They even say that we should “trade our boobs” with each other.  If it was just me it wouldn’t be that bad as I’m not the only flat chested girl by any means and the big busted girls actually get teased worse than those of us who are flat chested.  But since my twin brother has “moobs” that are bigger than my tiny breasts, we both get it really bad. 

    We share a room since our mom’s a single parent who can’t afford another bedroom.  It may sound strange, but we’re more comfortable with nudity in front of each other than I am with other girls or he is with other guys because we are close and don’t put each other down because of our imperfect bodies.  I sometimes get smirks and cruel comments about my flat chest when I undress with other girls.  However, it is nothing compared to what my brother has to endure in the locker room and showers due to his “moobs” and it is pure hell for him and some assume that he is gay as other have written.  His name is Jerry and they have nicknamed him “Jenny.”  Guys aren’t interested in me, but at least I have several close girl friends so I’m not alone and nobody thinks I’m gay just because I’m flat chested.  However, he has no friends because of this.  All he has is me and I love him very much and do my best to support him, but I can see how depressed he is and I’m really worried about him especially after reading the columns about teen suicide.


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    1. By LAUREN, from on 10/06/2015

      J.D.—Read what I wrote to Jim above. I suggest you talk to your parents about getting the surgery for your brother. He may be too ashamed to ask for it himself, but you could do it for him, confidentially. Show this column to your parents and instill in them how serious the bullying is, how simple the surgery is, and how it is covered by insurance.—Love, Lauren

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  5. By T.M., age 17, from Santa Rosa, California on 10/04/2015

    Guys with man boobs as well as both guys and girls who are gay are also harassed and bullied at my school.  Except for having a worthless “no bullying” policy, the school administration does nothing, although I have to admit that such a policy is difficult to enforce and it requires complaints to be made and as Jim says, the few who have dared to complain have only made things worse for themselves.

    I know that this is wrong, and I do not participate.  However, I feel guilty that I am somewhat responsible because I stand back and let it happen.  Just as those who did not participate in the Holocaust but remained silent and let it happen are now considered to be partially responsible, I feel the same way.  Maybe I’m a coward for remaining silent, but I don’t know what I can really do that would make a difference.  I doubt that speaking out in support of those who are being bullied would put an end to it, and I also fear being labeled gay and bullied myself if I did so as others have written about.

    I am ashamed to say that even my own sisters are homophobic.  Their room is right next to mine and I can hear everything that goes on in their room.  In addition to having to hear them talk about female issues with each other and their friends like their periods and waxing, I also hear them and their friends talking about how they hate having to change and shower in the locker room with girls who happen to be gay and are supposedly “getting off” seeing the other girls undressed and nude.  Just yesterday, I heard them talking with a friend about ways to “get” a particular girl who is openly gay.

    So my question is what can you do when you see things like this going on and know that it is wrong but feel powerless to do anything that will make a difference?


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    1. By LAUREN, from on 10/06/2015

      T.M.—It’s a very good question. Because you are correct that if you don’t have enough social status, standing up for a target just makes you a target, too. Kids know this well and thus they stay quiet. The best solution I know of is the Safe School Ambassadors which I’ve talked about in Straight Talk till I’m blue in the face.

      We once devoted an entire column to it, which you can read here.

      And here’s a link to the actual program. Their national headquarters are actually in Sebastopol, right near you!

      Why this program is successful is they train the POPULAR kids to stand up to bullying. THEY are the ones who can get away with it… and everyone follows their lead. It’s the best REAL solution that I know of. It’s brilliant actually, and it really works in the thousands of schools that carry it. There are also many programs a school can set up to enable it to afford it.

      What YOU could do is go to the principal’s office on a regular basis and complain about the bullying you see and continually ask them to start this program in your school. Being a squeaky wheel CAN and DOES change things. And nobody has to know you are the squeaky wheel if you don’t want them to. Just go privately every week and say this is what you see and this is what you know could work (meaning Safe School Ambassadors). If the principal stops “being able” to see you, start sending him/her a note every week, or posting anonymously (or as yourself) every week to the school newspaper. Go the next step and take the same relentless squeak to the school board and then the Superintendent’s office. This kind of thing takes time, but if you persist, like water eroding stone, it does work. You could be a real hero doing something like this.

      If you are creative about it, you might even be able to turn it into a senior project. Ever watch any of Michael Moore’s films? They are amazing about this kind of persistent “pawing” at something needed to be addressed. Here’s one “The Big One” that streams in from Netflix:,1,20016230

      Sorry you have to cut and paste these links!

      His first film, “Roger and Me”, is really good, too if you can figure out how to rent it.

      I love your question. Please let me know if you decide to do anything. –Love, Lauren

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  6. By Jane, age 17, from Florida on 10/31/2016

    I have tried many thing to rid of fats at my belly , but nothing works. Now I have made my mind to undergo coolsculpting. I’ve considered its side effects and it seems to be safe. Is that OK to undergo coolsculting at 17?

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