Rod Liddle

Is it empowering for women to have their baps inflated?

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I wonder what explanation will be found for the mysterious discovery of a woman’s body tucked behind a hedge on the royal estate of Sandringham? The obvious answer — that she was murdered and partially eaten by a senior member of the royal family, or perhaps a number of royal family members operating as a pack — is, I think, too easily arrived at, too pat. It is true that the Queen and Prince Philip, along with the Wessexes, were in situ over the Christmas holidays. And one might add as corroborating evidence that the royals have been publicly criticised for shooting raptors on the estate and so perhaps diverted their bloodlust towards the pursuit of humans, suspecting that this might occasion less opprobrium.

But I still do not quite buy it. Even less, the other so-called ‘obvious’ answer — that this unfortunate was one of the legions of mentally deranged royal women whom the Windsors have kept hidden from us for years, in cellars and outhouses and secret asylums around the country. I have never bought into this theory, though; it is hard to think of anyone being madder than Princess Margaret or the Duchess of Kent, and they were allowed out and about in full view of the public.

My suspicion is that the dead woman is a commoner and that her death had nothing to do with the royal family. Statistically, it seems almost certain that she was a woman who had recently undergone a cut-price breast-enhancement treatment and was out for a walk when one, or perhaps both, of her breasts exploded causing mortal injury. According to the newspapers, between 40,000 and 70,000 British women have availed themselves of this French cheapo boob job procedure, pioneered by a firm which has now gone bust and whose principals are now being investigated by the police. The ‘rupture rate’ is said to be anything between 1 per cent and 15 per cent, so they will be popping off all over the place. If you are thinking of going someplace where there are likely to be vain women with unfeasibly large breasts, I’d wear protective outer clothing, if I were you.

The now somewhat discredited Poly Implant Prosthetic treatment involved bunging stuff into the implants which differed a little from the medical norm: from what I can gather, tile grouting, crunched-up sour cream ’n’ chive flavour Pringles, carpet underlay etc, anything that came to hand, really. You may if you like criticise the women for being so gullible as to expect that the cut-price service they were getting would match the sort of thing which costs double the price. In which case you might also criticise the National Health Service, which availed itself of PIP for women who required reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy.

If the women were gullible, so too was (in effect) the government. There are now debates as to who should pay the bill for the expensive surgery, which will remove these globes of purulent landfill from thousands of women, at a cost which has been estimated at £150 million. The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, has castigated the cosmetic surgery industry and suggested that it should somehow pick up the bill.

Much of what he said about plastic surgeons seems to me absolutely right, but still, I cannot see why they should pay for the mistakes of others. Nor do I understand why the women should have to fork out. Morally, the worried women are in no different a position to those of us who smoke or drink or consume fast food and then expect to be treated on the NHS when the consequences of our foolhardiness reveal themselves in gravely tumorous form. When eventually I am admitted to hospital gasping like a beached whale and with glutinous black lung stuff hanging out of my nose, I would not expect Wills or Imperial to pick up the bill for my treatment. Indeed, my position is arguably less deserving than the women who had cosmetic surgery: I know precisely what I am in for; they did not. Further, the PIP treatment had received the imprimatur of the NHS, so they were entirely within their rights to assume it would be fine and dandy. All roads lead to death or injury, in any case, be they the road marked ‘vanity’ or the road marked ‘smoking allowed’.

But why do so many women wish to have their tits monkeyed with? According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (yup, that’s BAAPS: who says the quacks have no sense of humour?), the number rises rapidly each year, despite an economic climate which would freeze the nipples off an Eskimo. An opinion poll some years ago suggested that two thirds of women would contemplate plastic surgery and that they were, on the whole, depressed about their bodies.

Once upon a time, cosmetic surgery was something one kept quiet about in the hope that nobody noticed. Nowadays, though, it is something women proclaim proudly, as if it were a human right long denied to them by men, as if having your baps inflated were a form of gender empowerment. It is an odd consequence of feminism that women now feel it is politically right-on to have themselves mutilated in order to look better (‘for ourselves — not for you!’) and even more right-on to accede to requests for sexual intercourse with men or instigate such activities themselves. I suppose one should not complain too much.

Still, we should foot the bill for the remedial surgery and do so quickly, maybe hoping that this present health scare will dissuade women from having their bodies sliced up by men appealing to their vanity.