A website founded in 2005 has one goal: give women breast implants…for free. It may seem impossible, but as always, the devil is in the details. The website itself, which is aptly titled MyFreeImplants.com, doesn’t simply give money to women who want implants–that would be impossible–but rather describe themselves as “a social networking website that provides a fun, safe, and debt free alternative to expensive breast augmentation loans.” The debt free alternative lies in the social networking aspect of MyFreeImplants. 7 years after its founding, the site hosts 4,000 active members–cash-strapped hopefuls like BoycottPants, 2Legit2Quit, and KristinNeedsBoobs–and 40,000 donors.
The donors, who are mostly men, interact virtually with any of the 4,000 female members, who solicit them for money. Despite the hunky-dory description on the website, most donors are probably less interested in “helping women achieve their dreams” and “the everlasting gratitude” they’ll receive as a result, and more interested in the photos and videos they’ll receive for making a donation.
To put it plainly: MyFreeImplants is not ethical. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that the site caters to women who need money for breast implants. Breast implants positively impact the lives of millions of women every year. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with people donating to help women towards this end. But add webcams, and you create a situation with an inherent imbalance of power where the men want, the women might be willing to give in order to get a few dollars.
There are plenty of completely legal websites where women strip in front of a camera and men pay to watch them, but these sites are acknowledge what they are. It would be unlikely for a girl to join one of these sites only to discover she’s expected to expose herself. There’s great potential for this sort of situation on MyFreeImplants. Added to this the fact that many of these women are young, and likely suffer from low self-esteem, the last people they need to feel indebted to are semi-anonymous men out to see some skin.
While the commonality of breast implants continues to rise, as does the procedure’s acceptability, MyFreeImplants seems capable of tarnishing the image of breast augmentation in general. More than anything, it seems to be a virtualization and literalization of all too many prevalent social problems.