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Big boo-boo? Crowdfunding for breast enlargements draws Mideast concern

MyFreeImplants.com, which allows women to raise money from strangers, claims dozens of users in the region

Ben Flanagan

Published: Updated:

A controversial website that allows women to ‘crowdfund’ their breast enlargements says it has dozens of users in the Middle East, despite one Beirut-based plastic surgeon slamming the service as “degrading”.

MyFreeImplants.com matches women with strangers willing to pay for their cosmetic surgery, with some users having raised thousands of dollars though the U.S.-based site.

Many of those looking to raise money share nude pictures of themselves, with the site allowing images to be shared publically and privately, as well as facilitating one-to-one web chats with donors.

Those donating money can pledge small or large sums, with the website taking a 19% service charge it says covers “transaction fees and site expenses”.

One Middle Eastern woman with a profile on the site, who says her name is Amira, has raised $2,765.14 of $6,245.41 she says she needs for a breast operation.

“I'm currently a AA32 cup. I’m really flat chested,” Amira writes on her profile page.

“I would love to go out wearing casual clothes knowing that I have a figure on me… I’m really good to talk to if you need me and that’s for anything,” she adds. “I do have to admit I can be horny most of the time when I am on here.”

Several professionals in the plastic-surgery field have criticised MyFreeImplants.com for being “degrading” – although the cofounder of the site dismissed much of the criticism as “bullshit”.

The idea for the website stemmed from a 2005 bachelor party in Las Vegas, said Jay Moore, cofounder of MyFreeImplants.com. A friend of the group’s hostess told Mr Moore’s party that she could not afford the $6,000 price tag for breast enlargements.

“One of us yelled out ‘I got $5 on it’ and then someone else offered $10, and then $20, and then $50. By the time we [were] done there was a verbal commitment amongst all our friends to pay for 20% of her implants,” Mr Moore told Al Arabiya News.

MyFreeImplants.com was set up shortly after, and at the time of writing has 2,701 women raising money through it, as well as donors from across the world. These include 17 women from Middle Eastern countries, said Mr Moore.

“Although this is a small number, there has been some growth year over year. For example, at this same time last year we only had 6 users from the same region,” he said. There are 89 active donors from the Middle East, including 33 from Turkey and 14 from the UAE, he added.

Some commentators have criticised MyFreeImplants.com for trivialising cosmetic surgery and being degrading to women.

A former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons – known, rather unfortunately, as BAAPS – was quoted by The Times of London as saying that surgeons who knowingly accept payments from the site face being struck off by the professional body.

Mr Moore dismissed any suggestion that the site was aiding the exploitation of women.

“What an odd kind of exploitation it is where money flows away from those doing the exploiting,” he said.

“Blaming us for women’s desire to have breast implants is as dumb as blaming women for men’s toupees… The funniest layer of bullshit is the brazen hypocrisy of the whole thing. The most dearly held feminist slogan in the States is ‘my body, my choice’ but apparently the right to choose doesn’t apply to breast implants.”

But one prominent plastic surgeon from Lebanon said he thought the website was “degrading”.

Beirut is known as the plastic-surgery capital of the Middle East, with one local bank even offering loans specifically to fund cosmetic procedures.

But Dr Sami Saad, owner of a private clinic in Beirut and Lebanon’s representative for the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said MyFreeImplants.com was a “controversial” service.

“It looks like it’s a dating website, under the cover of cosmetic surgery,” he told Al Arabiya News. “They get to send pictures to the benefactors. So it feels like it’s a hidden dating service, that could progress into something else”.

Dr Saad said he doubted that a doctor carrying out a procedure paid for via ‘crowdfunding’ would run the risk of being struck off in Lebanon. But he said the sharing of photos of women with donors via the site was “quite demeaning”.

“It feels like somebody is buying a piece of that women,” he said. “And it seems like [they] own those implants, and that part of that woman, which is quite degrading.”