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April 12, 2005



In my view, surgery is only an option when there are health issues involved.__I don't believe in surgery for 'looks.'....I don't believe in tempting fate, surgery involves risks, and I feel that those risks should only be taken for medical conditions.__ Knock on wood, I've never had to have any type of surgery. If my time ever comes to go under the knife it will be out of necessity, not vanity.__ I might change my mind in a few years when I need a face-lift...who knows.

Wish I could comment more, but I've got to get back to my work. I'm on my way to failing a test tomorrow if I don't buckle down.


I might change my mind in a few years when I need a face-lift...who knows.

So it's OK if you "don't believe" in surgery when it applies to other people's decisions, but you reserve the right to change your mind should such a change be to your personal benefit? Nice.

If Ms. Cummings wants choices, how 'bout she lobbies the implant makers to develop a choice that is safe and reliable? I doubt the FDA would have approved Viagra if studies linked it to penile disfigurement.


That last line was in jest...I would never have a face lift. My god, it would be like being scalped. I would rather be dead! I don't believe in those type of surgeries for myself. I'm weird that way....I've been a health nut and an advocate of natural alternatives in health issues for my entire life. And I think there is something seriously wrong with disfiguring your body and cutting it up for vanity. But, I know many people do believe in these type of procedures and I certainly don't want to put down their choices.


This whole world is mostly based on sex, appearances, and bogus "gender roles," and this story pretty much involves all three.


Referring to "disfiguring your body and cutting it up" is certainly a put-down, Marie.


Excuse my language...I don't mean to put anyone down who undergoes plastic surgery. ...I think that I need to stop commenting here before I insult someone else.__I have some really strict views and I don't want to insult anyone.__I'm turning my computer off.


Hugo, seriously, who are these feminists so enamored of the word "choice" that they would actively disregard a ban on a product like breast implants that is known to rupture 93% of the time? Like mythago said, this is a liability and safety issue above all else--women's safety is not being treated as important. If they were selling a product to men that made their penises bigger but then blew up inside the penis *shudder*, there would be no debate about having it on the market.


Well, Arlene Nicole Cummings seems to use the rhetoric of choice to attack Gandy in the selection I quoted above. Are you suggesting I'm erecting a straw woman?


Of course she uses the rhetoric of choice. It's often used as a way to try and shut down discussion of feminist issues--"Well, women CHOOSE to be subservient to their husbands/sacrifice their careers/starve themselves, and who are you to say they can't?" As if having a legal right to make choices barred all discussion of why we make those choices.

Redneck Feminist (drumgurl)

"FDA regulators now estimate that up to 93 percent of silicone implants rupture within 10 years."

First, I'm suspiscious of that stat. Second, I think that as long as women are informed of the risks, they should be allowed to choose whether or not they want silicone.

If silicone is so bad, why is it currently approved for cancer patients and those with "deformed breasts"? What makes someone "worthy" of silicone?

Again, let women decide. Let them know the risks, then let them decide. They should have the legal right to do that. I'm not looking to stifle discussion as to WHY they decide to put their bodies at risk; I think that's an important discussion to have.

La Lubu

Funny, I don't recall anyone being up in arms about when tryptophan or ephedra was taken off the market. There was no "sure, it killed a few people, but hey! let folks decide on their own if that's a risk they want to take." It was easily recognized by most people that there was (a) no immediate pressing need for the product, and (b) a high level of risk associated with using the product.

drumgurl, there is more involved here than the risk to the individual woman. I see this as basically being a defective product. Ninety-three percent of the time, it does not work as intended. How is this any different from other forms of quack medicine? Are you against all forms of consumer protection regulation, and/or professional licensing? Are you a die-hard "caveat emptor" proponent---anything goes?

That, and I don't think we can really separate the "why" from the choosing. I read an article today in the JWR about women who "choose" cesarian sections when there is no medical reason to....and I'm not talking about having a "c" instead of VBAC. I've had a c-section, and can't for the life of me believe that anyone would "choose" the higher risks of a c-section rather than give birth vaginally. It's higher risk for the mother, it's higher risk for the baby....it's insanity to have one for non-medical reasons. But these "choices" don't happen in a vacuum.


Hugo--what mythago said. (Damn you, myth, for making me echo you a lot!) No, I don't think it's a straw-woman, since you're not trying to get one over on feminists. But god knows that anti-feminists have gotten really good and co-opting the language of feminists and making arguments like this. But I've never, ever had a feminist tell me that she supports breast implants as a choice. I've heard non-feminist women say that, and only to put me off my game by guilt-tripping me.

Now, lots of feminists like Redneck and somewhat myself hesistate to say that the FDA should pull implants off the market because they are borne out of sexism. The FDA's job is not to pass value judgements on treatments but to examine how safe they are. This is where Redneck and I part (I think)--I say that the implants are unsafe and should be taken off the market, and she disagrees. If they were safe, I wouldn't approve of them, but I wouldn't suggest banning them, because that's too paternalistic, in my opinion.

Redneck Feminist (drumgurl)

I'm skeptical of the FDA in general, but I don't want to completely abolish it. I'm not opposed to all consumer protections, although some of the economists I generally like (Milton Friedman) would indeed get rid of mandatory professional licensing.

If the 93% figure turns out to be accurate, I'd consider changing my position.

Amanda, less than a year ago I would have agreed with you 100%. But I have met some women with whom I sympathized so much that they changed my mind. One was a woman who had developed no breasts at all, and I mean at ALL. She just had nipples and that was it. So she got a boob job, and now she just fills out an "A" cup. She didn't want to be a man-pleaser, she just felt like she was deformed. Other women-- including some feminists-- made her feel like she wasn't a "real woman" because of her chest and overall thinness. (I could relate to her on the thinness aspect and have been the target of not-a-real-woman jokes.) She also is from Laos and felt like she didn't fit in with American culture.

Do I feel sorry for the sorrority girl who wants a boob job so she can pose for playboy's college issue? No. In fact, I laugh at her. But there are other cosmetically enhanced women who just want to feel like they aren't freaks of nature.



"...women's safety is not being treated as important. If they were selling a product to men that made their penises bigger but then blew up inside the penis *shudder*, there would be no debate about having it on the market."

Interesting position. Do you really believe that or are you just going for the hyperbole? Silicone-gel implants have been around since the '70's and were pulled off the market (banned) in 1992 because of safety issues and health concerns. That's a long history of scienfific data to draw from. The conclusions thus far are that the implants do not cause chronic or serious illnesses, but they can leak or break and cause infection or pain or require additional surgery. Fair enough. If the safety of medical treatments, procedures, or devices are in question the FDA should do as it has done. The implants will remain off the market until/unless more evidence regarding their long-term safety is provided. Women's safety has been treated as important, as it should be.

Now, with respect to things blowing up inside penises...Well, we don't quite have that problem yet but don't tell me you don't think men would opt for a surgery or device that, um, augments them? I'm sure you've seen those bull-crap commercials on TV advertising doing it with a magic pill. You see, women aren't the only ones being preyed upon by those nasty, unscrupulous companies. We all have our hang-ups, be it boobs or weenies. What I'm getting at is that there are drugs on the market, for men, that have potentially life-threatening side-effects. One is viagra and its role in platelet clumping. Hundreds of men since 1998, some in their 30's, have died from using viagra. I guess one could say men's safety is not being treated as important. Then there's the potential for those four hour erections. I was beginning to wonder why some of my buddies were calling off our man dates. It's all much clearer now.

By the way, despite my seeming defense of implants, I actually would prefer small, natural boob to big, fake ones.


Second, I think that as long as women are informed of the risks, they should be allowed to choose whether or not they want silicone.

Well, see, there's this whole concept of government regulation where we do not allow any product, no matter how dangerous, to be sold as long as you tell people the possible risks. The issue is not whether women should be allowed to have breast implants (though I'm sure some of the silicone-implant opponents would argue otherwise). The issue is whether this is a dangerous medical device and, therefore, should not be approved for sale by the FDA.

Here's a deal: let the implant manufacturers open up all of their medical and research data--ALL--to any woman who wants to see it. Then they can sell implants. I rather doubt you'd get any takers.


Quoting Mythago:
Here's a deal: let the implant manufacturers open up all of their medical and research data--ALL--to any woman who wants to see it. Then they can sell implants. I rather doubt you'd get any takers.

Do you really think that is the case? Men and women both knowingly and deliberately do dangerous things that can affect their health all the time. Even after all the government warnings and breast implant lawsuits of the 80's women still went out of country to get silicone breast implants, knowing full well the risks.

Government since the new deal has sought to protect us from ourselves. That maternalistic attitude has been been a sourse of much debate for many groups besides women desiring breast implants. Cigarette smokers, alcohol drinkers, proponents of drug decriminalization and legal drugs with known fatal side effects, i.e. Celebrex, Bextor, Baycor and yes, Viagra and Cialis. The list goes on.

Personally I prefer to make my own decisions about myself and my health instead of some pol in Washington or the FDA which has been subverted in the last decade by drug companies seeking higher profits.

After years of expensive lawsuits, makers of silicone breast implants aren't bringing them back for any other reason except demand. And you can bet they will cover their collective rear ends to make sure women are advised of the dangers and agree to accept them. Which they will.

La Lubu

Again, I don't recall any fulminations about basic American freedoms being taken away, or howls about Big Brother's encroachment on our lives, when Ford Pintos were recalled. It was just recognized that it was a defective product with a poor design. It was recognized that people who bought Ford Pintos had a right to expect that they wouldn't explode in the event of a rear-end impact.

Thing is, I don't trust corporations to provide the public with enough information to make an informed decision. Like mythago said, they aren't going to open their research data for public examination; they'll hide behind "trade secrets" basically because they don't give a damn if their product harms people. They never pay the full brunt of the costs, even in the event of lawsuits. Look at the environmental damage in "Cancer Alley" and elsewhere. Look at how many people died from exposure to asbestos, that the manufacturers in fact knew would kill people. Look at how PVC manufacturers are knowingly exposing their employees (and the surrounding community) with cancer-causing toxins. Look at how cigarette companies not only knew that their product caused cancer, but also knew that it was essential to their future as a business to strategically market to children, as almost all smokers start before adulthood ('nother words, they knew it was essential to market to people young enough that they couldn't reasonably make an informed decision).

And ain't that a groove? See, this post started out being about teen girls and images. And that's why I think we can't separate the "why" from the decision making. We are fed gender-specific, corporate-media-driven images of how we are supposed to be throughout our formative years. Then, with our fears (of aging, of infirmity, of ugliness, of not being "feminine" or "masculine" enough) firmly ingrained, we're supposed to make an "informed" decision on very, very limited information on whether a particular medical intervention is really going to be any good for us, short-term or long? Bah!

Michael, I agree with you that many federal agencies are corrupted, and have taken the path of working hand-in-hand with conglomerates rather than attending to their taxpayer-funded duty of accurately assessing risks and protecting the public. I don't think we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but we do need to clean house. As an individual, I have neither the time nor the money (not to mention the education and experience) to create my own laboratory to do this work myself. I rely on other people to do this for me. In no way, shape or form, would I feel comfortable relying solely on information from a company itself as to the safety of its product.


Well, we don't quite have that problem yet but don't tell me you don't think men would opt for a surgery or device that, um, augments them?

Of course they would, but the FDA would not allow such a product on the market if it were dangerous. Breast implants are dangerous--oh, they won't kill you, but why is that the standard? Simply hurting the women who have them is problematic enough to pull them off the market.

Redneck Feminist (drumgurl)

Amanda, it's true that implants are potentially dangerous. But where do we draw the line? We allow women to smoke. And we allow them to eat at McDonalds. Should those things be pulled from the market?

I'm not an advocate of plastic surgery and wouldn't choose it myself (at this time). But I think the only thing more cruel than pushing a beauty standard on a woman is to take away any means she has to achieve it.


I'd like to why Hugo feels the need to weigh in on what is a "free choice" and what isn't. Women who choose to get breast implants are not making that choice freely, apparently, because of cultural signals about what is considered beautiful and what isn't. Where on earth do you draw the line, though? Considering that our society isn't perfect and will likely never even approach "perfect," what do you say to the woman who chooses to wear makeup? Colors her hair? Wears colored contacts? Gets manicures? Tans? Works out often not for health but for a better-looking body? Shaves her legs? Gets bikini waxes? Whitens her teeth? Etc. etc.

I agree that teenage girls today need better role models and images of "normal" women in the media so that their perception of body image isn't permanently whacked. But what I'm hearing from this post is that any woman who would choose something like implants is obviously suffering from some sort of false-consciousness. There's no way she could want implants purely for herself. And that sounds just a trace condescending.


I haven't had the time to read the comments. But I want to add to my comment from yesterday.__ There are psychological as well as economical reasons for cosmetic surgery. Someone in the entertainment industry that makes their living on their looks, top executives, anchormen/anchorwomen, etc. Our youth obcessed culture forces many people into surgery simply to compete in their jobs. Others have physical deformities that hurt their self esteem.__There are many legitimate reasons for cosmetic surgery. I think the key thing to look at is the reason behind the decision to undergo the procedure.



"the FDA would not allow such a product on the market if it were dangerous"

Did you read my entire post? The FDA allows lots of dangerous or risky things on the market. Viagra has killed, caused heart attacks, and strokes and it has only been around since 1998. But I guess my failing is assuming that you, as a feminist, want EQUAL protection, rights, and considerations for ALL.

And for all you FDA bashers out there, if it's all about the Benjamins why are thousands of drugs and procedures not on a greased track to approval and not available in the US, while they are available in Canada or Europe? I guess there's not ENOUGH money in it for them.


If you really, truly believe that the FDA would approve a product that would rupture inside a man's penis, then I guess there's no discussion. What can I say? I find that ridiculous. Viagra doesn't cause problems for 93% of its users, does it now?

Redneck, the difference is that breast implants are sold as a medical device, and they therefore have to be held to more rigorous standards than cigarettes or junk food.



Your response is precisely what I expected. Thanks.

La Lubu

A friend of mine who is 34 years old and wears a "c" cup wants implants. To be larger? No. She wants to stay the same size. She's afraid of aging and doesn't want sagging boobs. She doesn't have sagging boobs, but she's concerned for the future. She wants to replace her natural breasts with implants, regardless of the risks, so she can remain youthful looking. She is also considering "preventative" Botox.

Now, anyone. Tell me, if you can, how this is not completely messed up. She's an attractive woman, yet is convinced that there is something wrong with her because her body looks like a living woman's instead of a department-store mannequin's. Tell me, if you can, how this isn't a form of self-loathing.

I think the ban should remain on silicone implants, because they are a defective product. But regardless of the viability of the product, I will continue to seriously critique the pure ugliness of the lengths to which women are pressed to adhere to a bogus standard of beauty. Bogus, because it is not a standard of health and natural, unique appearance, but one of cookie-cutter, mass-production standards completely divorced from one's health---to the extent that many of the "beauty" procedures either detract from health or are serious risks in and of themselves.

I've got a daughter. I don't want her growing up in a culture where women's bodies are considered as easy (and "necessary") to modify as Ms. Potatohead. She's a beautiful girl. I want her to be recognized for who she is. I want her unique beauty to be valued, not seen as a landscape that needs pruning or planting. Who stole feminism, indeed.

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