Thursday, December 22, 2011


silicone breast implants
The implant scare raises all kinds of questions. A lot of the women who had them would have had reconstructive surgery after mastectomies ... but many more would have had them for cosmetic reasons ... is body image really so important? And what drives our idea of what is the 'right' way for a body to look? I would have to admit to being deeply uncomfortable about this whole industry. There's an interesting post about cosmetic surgery here that suggests more than anything that those who submit to it are really trying to fill a gap in their lives that no amount of surgery can fill.

Interestingly the French government is offering to pay to remove the implants from all women ... but only replace them those who had cancer as opposed to those who had them solely for cosmetic purposes. That seems to mind to send out a message about how they view cosmetic surgery. But since as a government they also legislate to allow such procedures, is their response here consistent?

But the merits of implants aside, what kind of people put industrial grade silicon into women bodies instead of medical grade? The stuff they used was 10 times cheaper - was profit their only consideration? And even though the company is defunct, the people who ran it are presumably still around - will criminal charges be brought against them?

Troubling also is the attitude of the lawyers for those who had the implants. Since they can't go after the company, they are planning to go after the clinics - is this right? Is justice only about going after those with the deepest pockets available as opposed to those who actually did what was wrong? And what about insurance - shouldn't companies like this be obliged by law to have policies in place to cover claims that come in even after the company has ceased to trade? Surely that is common sense.

The biggest shock of the story, for me at least, is the numbers of implants involved. This company produced hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of implants during its time and it was only the third largest company making them. I had no idea the market was so big. Maybe that shows my naivety. But I also think it speaks volumes about society's attitude to women. There's pressure for them to look a certain way - the more they look like a candidate for a page 3 photo-shoot candidate the better - and if they can't look that way naturally, then surgery and plastic is an acceptable answer.  It shouldn't be. Women, and men, should be able to feel beautiful for just being who they are ... and to feel lovable and loved without having recourse to the surgeon's blade.

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