I don't know why anyone's surprised to learn that breast implants have accompanying health risks. I don't know why anyone's surprised to learn that implants containing industrial instead of medical silicone were put in hundreds of thousands of women's bodies. What I am surprised at, is the total failure of anyone to link this recent revelation with the total contempt the cosmetic surgery industry has for women's bodies.
Health scares are one thing. It's always cause for a media storm when a medical procedure or product is found to be substandard, potentially endangering people's health or even lives. But the word 'medical' should be our hint here - breast implants have nothing, nothing, nothing to do with medicine. Or health. Granted, in the case of breast cancer, it's entirely understandable why someone who has had a mastectomy would want reconstructive surgery - the same procedure is offered to men who have lost a testicle to cancer. Apart from these cases, which make up a tiny minority of women who get breast implants, the procedure has nothing to do with health or healing, and everything to do with women believing they are somehow lacking if they do not look a certain way. Who perpetuates this phenomenon, with adverts of pneumatically breasted, wrinkle-free, white-toothed women beaming down at us on the London Underground escalators? The cosmetic surgery industry. Who has a vested interest in women continuing to feel their bodies are inadequate and flawed? The cosmetic industry. And who, therefore, has the most to gain from wringing as much business as possible, with as great a profit margin as possible, out of women? I hardly need say it.
Why then, is anyone in the least bit shocked when a "corporation with economic objectives" admits that it used a "cheaper unapproved product" in its implants solely to save money? What is at all surprising about the head of the now defunct Poly Implant Prothese admitting that the product inserted into hundreds of thousands of women's chests "did not formally receive approval"? Why would anyone assume that a company that solely profits from women's insecurities would have any moral or ethical compunction about abusing women's bodies, seeings as that same company views the female body as mere economic chattel, the more sliced, diced and remoulded the better?
What we need to be up in arms about is not that someone has cheated, cut corners and endangered health purely for profit - this isn't the the first time it's happened, and as long as capitalism persists, it won't be the last. Where we should be directing our outrage is the cultural phenomena that made 300,000 women undergo entirely unnecessary elective major surgery, and have bags containing the same stuff you seal your bathroom tiles with, inserted into their already healthy and beautiful bodies. It's beside the point that the British chief medical officer is saying that there is no undue risk to British women and "advising against the routine removal of the implants." Anyone who really believes in and cares about women should be advising every woman with implants to get rid of them, dodgy product or not. Because they are nothing but vile emblems of society's contempt for the female body. Breast implants, and the industry that profits from them, are a constant symbol of women being told they are not good enough, and being crushed into submission by the monstrous industry that claims it can 'cure' them.
It shouldn't take a health scare for people to notice this. Most media outlets still seem afraid to comment on the obvious question begged by the scandal (why the fuck was anyone putting foreign bodies into their chest in the first place, let alone ones that might compromise their health?) and it almost seems to be because we're so resigned to the power wielded by the industry of false beauty, that no one can be bothered to challenge it any more. All the more reason then, to seize the moment that one of the big players in this vile, woman-hating arena has fallen on its sword, and start the fightback. Someone needs to stand up and say it - putting substandard implants into a woman's body may be inexcusable, but putting them in at all is what's really fucking ugly.