Do British women have a right to large breasts? asked Dominique Jackson. Plastic surgeons certainly think so. A proposal to levy value-added tax, or VAT, on aesthetic procedures—dubbed the “boob tax” because it covers breast implants as well as nose jobs and brow lifts—is meeting with howls of outrage from surgeons and their clients. The denunciations have been “swift, vociferous, and dismayingly predictable.” One Sky News anchorwoman called the proposal “an attack on women at an incredibly vulnerable time in their lives.” Another TV personality, a former Big Brother contestant, sniffed, “It penalizes people who want to better themselves.”
Of course, one could argue that if you can afford an unnecessary operation that runs around $5,000, “then you can afford to pay a chunk of the final fee into the nation’s coffers.” But the boob lobby is strong. In the U.S., the Obama administration tried to impose a similar tax last year, but it faltered because of “the public outcry in Middle America, where aesthetic surgery and cosmetic procedures are considered as routine as a visit to the dentist.” Britain may well be going the same way.