A high price to pay for physical perfection

Diane Abbott

Sunday, May 20, 2012

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All over the world men like women with curvaceous hips, and Jamaica is no exception. But increasingly women are going to extremes to get the desired look.


In 1990s a dangerous trend emerged among Jamaican girls and women desperate to pack pounds on their bottom, in the form of "chicken pills". These are the same pills farmers give chickens to make them grow faster. The Jamaican Government banned the chicken pill for both chickens and women. But the pills are still available online and the fad spread to Jamaicans in the diaspora.


The chicken pills had potentially uncomfortable side effects like numbness, diarrhoea and dermatitis in people. But much more dangerous is the practice of injecting your bottom with silicone to enhance its shape.


Tragically, last year a 20-year-old young woman from my district in London died after having silicone injected into her bottom by a practitioner with no medical qualifications. She had originally flown out to Philadelphia the year before for her first round of buttock enhancement. She was apparently so pleased with the increased size of her bottom that she flew out again for the same procedure. This second round of silicone injections killed her.


Even worse, in some ways, is the case of an American woman who had to have parts of all her four limbs amputated to save her life after a botched butt implant gave her near-fatal infections. The woman is a former cosmetologist and fashion designer from Los Angeles and she received the silicone injections eight years ago.


As with the Philadelphia case, the people who did the injections had no medical qualifications and they were using industrial grade silicone. Soon after getting her buttocks enhanced, the victim began to suffer "excruciating" pain.


For five years she lived with the pain, but last year doctors told her that they would have to amputate both her hands and feet in a bid to save her life after she picked up an infection. So now the mother of two is a quadruple amputee confined to a wheelchair, all in the cause of a bigger bottom.


It seems incredible that intelligent young women, with everything to live for, would risk their life just to have a larger bottom. Part of the problem is that people are increasingly encouraged to think that there is a medical fix for any physical imperfection.


You don't like your nose? Get a new one. Want a bigger bottom? Go under the surgeon's knife.


In recent months there has been a health scare in Britain because thousands of women who had silicone-filled breast implants to make their bosom bigger found that the implants were faulty.


It is not just unqualified practitioners who prey on women's desires for perfection. Many plastic surgeons in Europe and America have grown rich by convincing middle-aged women that they could have the line-free face of a 21-year-old.


Of course, there is nothing wrong with anyone, male or female, making the best of themselves. But women are risking their lives in a frantic search for physical perfection. And losing all your limbs seems an unthinkable price to pay for a more curvaceous bottom.


Diane Abbott is the British Labour party's spokeswoman on public health


www.dianeabbott.org.uk


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