Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Big Deal About Breast Implants

I don’t get the appeal of breast implants for women of any age. But what’s really troubling is the increasing number of very young women going under the knife for the sake of a bigger chest.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, between 1992 and 2002, the number of girls under age 18 who got breast implants nearly tripled.

In the early ‘80s, when I was a TV medical reporter, I received a call from Betty. She told me that her 18-year-old daughter Joleen wanted implants, and wanted my opinion on how to handle the situation. I suggested she make a deal: Tell Joleen that they’d wait till her twenty-first birthday. Then, if she still wanted implants, they’d revisit the possibility.

A few years later, the FDA found that silicone implants leaked. The Feds put a moratorium on silicone implants. Waiting to interview a plastic surgeon about this story, I tossed an implant hand to hand, as if it were a Beanie Baby. Around the 15th toss, in midair, the implant burst. The gel splattered in my lap and ruined my favorite black skirt.

Betty called that night, after my report had aired. She thanked me for our conversation four years earlier. She’d taken my advice. Sure enough, when Joleen turned 21, she no longer wanted larger breasts. Her mother, especially since the silicone gel scare, was relieved.

This morning my friend, Bruce, told me his daughter Leslie asked if he would buy her a “boob job” for graduation. Bruce and his daughter have a close relationship. They’ve always talked openly about everything.

Without pausing, and in no uncertain terms, Bruce said no. He told her she was beautiful, just the way she was. Then he joked that, in the spirit of compromise, he’d meet her halfway: he’d buy her one. They laughed. Leslie got the message.

My guess is that, sooner or later, she’ll thank him.

The Power of Girls: Inside and Out

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