Bums, boobs and botox

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TV programme showed distasteful hard-sell tactics of a UK cosmetic surgery company.

I watched a programme last night that I found very disturbing – Bums, boobs and botox – about the cosmetic surgery company Transform.

Transform is apparently a large, well-known company in the UK, which offers surgical and non-surgical procedures, including tummy tucks, botox, restylane and all the rest of the modern paraphenalia without which people seem unable to live. 

What I found most distasteful about this company was its hard-sell tactics both on the phone and in introductory evenings, where – like a revivalist meeting – people are pulled along by the group atmosphere. There was also the fact that it offers procedures to its own staff at half price. The end result of this was that they all looked like aliens – immobile mouths, immobile foreheads, weird, staring eyes where blepharoplasty had been performed, huge plump cheeks like hamsters that hadn’t swallowed their food.

The man administering the botox – an Australian former dentist – looked the most freakish of all those involved, with his wild eyes and terrifying frozen expression. Why on earth do people DO this? They all look like they’ve had a stroke. And one of his patients, Magoo, very worryingly did not realise that botox was a recurring procedure until just before the needle went in. Surely he should have been given a cooling-off period?

The saddest thing of all was that most patients were very pleased with the result of their procedures. It is frightening that this look is becoming ‘normal’ in the UK and that people are so willing to pump themselves full of drugs and chemical compounds whose long-term effects remain unknown, in the name of beauty, which – surely to God – really comes primarily from other things: vivacity, engagement, kindness…

I fully admit that there are some procedures that looked useful – particularly the tummy tuck on the man who had lost 10 stone in weight and found himself hanging and saggy. Wanting the removal of this loose skin when you have made so much effort to lose weight strikes me as understandable, though I do also know women who’ve opted to just hold it in with a light control garment. And microdermbrasion is a surface procedure that can scarcely do any harm – though a word to the young man who was having it: change your fucking job if you want to look less tired!

It was particularly striking that patients themselves were insecure rather than vain, and I feel that companies like this prey on this insecurity. You could see it most clearly in the men, especially a young Polish man who couldn’t find a girlfriend – he imagined – because of his premature baldness (believe me, baldness never held back a confident man), and one older man who had made the mistake of marrying a woman half his age and now felt the need to have a hair transplant. He is, I imagine, also in the market for other nonsense such as Viagra. 

Seventy per cent (yes, sisters, count it!) of the company’s money comes from breast augmentation. How sick are women if we feel our attractiveness is seated in our breasts? And how terrible that we are willing to have our tender flesh cut about with a surgeon’s scalpel and plastic inserted inside our bodies to come up to some fake idea of what a woman should be? I find this whole business unspeakable. 

Anyway – a frightening programme that is well worth watching if it’s ever repeated or you can catch it online.


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