As women with PIP implants continue to be terrified by reports of increased rupture risk and exposure to possibly toxic substances, Newsnight this week covered the story, with a guest appearance from boob job expert Katie Price.
The show also featured a panel of ladies who have had PIP implants, who were invited to add their four-penneth on how the government and NHS should be handling them. The issues of how to get speedy access to scans and who should foot the bill for removal and replacement of the implants is getting lots of folk in a tizzy — and, understandably, the women walking around with mattress-filler in their chests are somewhat keen for debate to be replaced by decisive action ASAP.
I feel for these women, they must be worried sick. Their dream come true is turning into their worst nightmare. I hope this is all resolved quickly, preferably with private clinics stepping up to take responsibility and replace these implants with safer alternatives.
But, I couldn’t help be struck by the reasons some of the women on Newsnight gave for having their implants and the seeming unanimous desire to have the implants replaced rather than removed altogether. As Price sanely interjected, there are risks with all surgical procedures and all implants are subject to a lifespan, after which they have to be removed. Their quest to improve their breasts with implants was always subject to risk — but this is something they were willing to do to improve their body confidence and the way they look in clothes.
I heard repeated use of phrases like “I didn’t feel like a woman” and references to the distress caused to women by the state of their breasts after breastfeeding children. One woman said it had nothing to do with vanity, but she felt compelled to have implants to “feel better”, after her self-esteem reached rock bottom.
I’m not unsympathetic to body image worries at all, or crushing hang-ups about post-baby boob deflation. I’ve experienced all of this to some degree — and I know that, for some, the feelings of self-loathing or inadequacy can be overwhelming. You can’t just “snap out of it”. And it may seem as if physical change roots out “the problem” and makes everything alright again.
But I do ask myself if surgery is the answer. Could it be that “the problem” has more to do with the mind than the body? Personally, I believe that psychological help would be more relevant, at least as a first base. Decreased anxiety and improved self-esteem, achievable through therapy, might be a better way of approaching these problems than going under the knife.
That’s my view, what’s yours?