crowd-source breast implants

I am an incurable optimist. When I heard that there was a website that existed just to crowdfund breast implants, part of me was hoping it was designed to help breast cancer survivors or trans women get reconstructive surgery. But no. was founded in 2005 to match up “the girls” with male benefactors who will donate funds to cover breast augmentation surgery. To sign up, the women post photos and some personal information, then they start soliciting donations. The woman can have a list of things they’ll do for various donations, or they can enter “contests” held by donors to see who they’re going to give money to. Messaging a woman costs a donor a dollar, but chat sessions are free. (The site automatically deletes chat histories.)

According to Slate:

Women are free to request any amount of money for any kind of image or video, and donors are often happy to oblige. The most ambitious women participate in the aforementioned donor-generated contents. When my friend signed up, one open contest promised $100 to the woman who could prove she had “the best ass on MFI.” One offered $50 for the most delicious-looking picture of a hamburger (that’s not some arcane slang term—really, just a hamburger). And one offered $2 for a photograph of a vagina.

“Invest in Breasts” the site says, but I feel compelled to make a public service announcement to any prospective investors: This is not actually an investment. You will not receive dividends, nor will you be able to sell your stake later for a profit. Giving a woman money to buy bonus boobs will not in any way help your future self attain financial security.

If a woman quits MFI, any donors get their money back. Even if she successfully reaches her goal, the woman never actually gets her hands on the money. When people donate to her “boob bank,” the money is held there until she reaches her goal. When the goal is achieved, the money is transferred directly to a board-certified, MFI-affiliated plastic surgeon, who then puts the implants in the woman.

The site currently has 3,500 women registered and 10,000 registered men. More than 1,000 women have gotten breast implants through MFI. The site raised $2.8 million in 2008 and says it has raised over $12.5 million since it was founded in 2005.  The website takes 19 percent of all donations.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons would like to go on the record as being very much not in favor of this shenanigans.

“It turns a surgical procedure into a contest, and that is not something we think is appropriate,” said the president of the American Society.

“I thought I could no longer be appalled by the circuslike atmosphere surrounding plastic surgery,” said a former president of the British Association, “but this is really quite shocking.”

I would never tell a woman not to get breast implants if she wanted them or judge anyone for having them. (I do not desire them, but I have dear friends and relatives who are very happy with their enhanced busts.) But I have to admit this site squicks me the hell out. I am uncomfortable with the commodification of women’s bodies from a theoretical standpoint, and this site is actually trading in women’s body parts. The site was founded on the premise is that women will sign up to jump through various, often sexual, hoops for men in the hopes of pleasing them enough to be given a bigger set of breasts, theoretically to make them even more attractive to men.

Also, breast implants are not a one-time deal. Installing them requires invasive surgery, and they require expensive medical upkeep. According to Slate, the FDA recommends that women with implants get an MRI of their breasts every two years. Those MRIs can run from $2,000 to $5,000, and there is not a crowdfunding site to help pay for that.

Via Slate/Photo: Shutterstock