In Venezuela, butt injections are not unusual with an estimated 30% of women between the ages of 18-50 having had the procedure.
In fact, many parents give them to their daughters as a 15th birthday present.
But these injections don't come without risks. In 2013, 17 women died from their liquid silicone injections. Part of the threat lies in the fact that the procedure is illegal. The sale of silicone can carry a prison sentence of up to 2 years so this means that women are having the injections at home or at illegal and unlicensed facilities like gyms or beauty salons.
“The injections take just 20 minutes, but they can never fully be taken out,” says Jesús Pereira, the president of the Venezuelan Plastic Surgeons Association. “100 percent of cases become complicated. It could take four days or it could take 20 years, but eventually the patient will become irreversibly sick.”
The beauty business is so big in Venezuela that women spend, on average, 20% of their annual income on beauty related products and 4000 women are seeking cosmetic surgery every month. Get this, most banks in Venezuela offer long term loans tailored to those planning for surgery.
It was the death of Mary Perdomo that started people talking. She was founder and president of the NO to Biopolymers, YES to Life foundation and died as a direct result of her butt injections. She used her failing health to teach women about the risks.
Perdomo had the standard 560cc injection of silicone into each butt cheek. A few weeks later, she had trouble sleeping and later found that she had tumors in the affected area. She eventually was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which came about as a result of her body's reaction to the foreign substance.
Astrid de la Rosa has a horror story too. She was left bedridden after her liquid silicone butt injections migrated to her spine and paralyzed the supporting muscles. She now tours middle schools in an attempt to educate young women about the dangers.
De la Rosa believes the government needs to play a larger role in making sure this procedure is not available at all.
“Lamentably, the majority of the people receiving these injections are young women from poorer backgrounds who haven’t been educated to the enormous risks that these injections pose,” Pereira said. “They feel that they're put under pressure by friends or society, and look for quick solutions.”
There is a Venezuelan law against handling dangerous biopolymers but the state regulations are minimal at best and anyone wishing to perform an injection need only to find a source of the biopolymers from an internet vender. Far too easy.
But see, it isn't just a legal problem. It is a bigger picture cultural problem.
Venezuelan women are beautiful and the country holds the record for the most international beauty queens. And the Las Miss (the Misses) as they are known, often go on to have very lucrative careers.
“Every girl here dreams of being a Miss. We Venezuelans see those people as the perfect women,” says Maria Trinidad, a representative of the NO to Biopolymers foundation who sold her car in order to pay for an invasive surgery to remove her injections.
“When you live in a country where a beautiful woman has greater career prospects than someone with a strong work ethic and first-class education, you are forced into the mindset that there is nothing more important than beauty.”
Celebrating beauty is one thing, burying people because of it is quite another. Think about it, as stated above, parents are giving their 15 year old daughters butt injections as a birthday present. They aren't even done growing! Shouldn't that sort of procedure wait until puberty is finished?
What do you think of this trend? Do you think this is an issue of state regulation alone or is this a really tragic example of our cultural obsession with perfection and beauty?
Source: The Atlantic
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