Feature

Hugo Chavez's war on 'monstrous' breast implants

In a televised rant, Venezuela's controversial president says it's wrong for doctors to push cosmetic surgery on women who can't afford it

Last weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez momentarily interrupted his ongoing critique of the U.S. to castigate another enemy: Venezuelan doctors who hawk breast implants. In a state television address, Chavez said Venezuelan women, egged on by doctors, spend way too much on plastic surgery, reports The New York Times. While the country's booming implant industry is already weathering controversy — a 20-year-old woman died in Caracas this month from complications — doctors say it's wrong for Chavez to call for "discrimination" against their profession. Here, a brief guide to the ruckus:

Why is Chavez so upset?He says Venezuela's addiction to breast augmentation is a "monstrous thing." It is "painful," Chavez says, to see impoverished women pressured into paying for cosmetic surgery when they can't even afford basics. He lays much of the blame on doctors, who, he says, make these women feel bad "if they don't have some big bosoms." Chavez even suggests that implants can predispose young women for early pregnancy and drug abuse.

Are breast implants that popular in Venezuela?"In beauty-conscious Venezuela, boobs are big business," says Corky Siemaszko in the New York Daily News. Between 30,000 and 40,000 Venezuelan women have their breasts lifted or otherwise enhanced every year. Billboards advertise bank loans for the surgery, and gossip blogs trade opinions on which Miss Venezuela contestants have gone under the knife. "I've never seen more silicone anywhere else," says feminist Spanish filmmaker Mireia Sallarès, as quoted in the Times.

How has Chavez's rant gone over?It's receiving mixed reviews. An opposition newspaper, El Nacional, attacked Chavez for what it called his "antiquated, militaristic, coarse, repressive attitude on the freedom of women to do what they want with their bodies." Others said that Chavez's point — bizarre as it may be for him to make it — is actually pretty reasonable. El Nacional was being "a bit over dramatic," says Kyle Munzenrieder in Miami New Times. In fact, this might be "a rare instance where Chávez is right. There's nothing wrong with preferring a woman's natural state, no matter the size."

Sources: NY Times, NY Daily News, Miami New Times, Hispanically Speaking News

Recommended

New chancellor at Kabul University bans women from campus
An Afghan girl sits in an empty classroom.
going backwards

New chancellor at Kabul University bans women from campus

South Korean military says North Korea fired 'unidentified projectile' into sea
File footage of a North Korean missile launch airs on South Korean TV.
all eyes on north korea

South Korean military says North Korea fired 'unidentified projectile' into sea

Germany's next governing coalition could be determined by 3rd- and 4th-place parties
Annalena Baerbock.
what's next for germany

Germany's next governing coalition could be determined by 3rd- and 4th-place parties

Other countries are besting even the most vaccinated U.S. state
Burlington, VT.
vaccinate the world

Other countries are besting even the most vaccinated U.S. state

Most Popular

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

7 cartoons about America's vaccine fights

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness
Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman
Last Night on Late Night

Jimmy Fallon and Nicole Kidman almost make it through interview without awkwardness

Democrats are governing like Republicans
A donkey.
Picture of W. James Antle IIIW. James Antle III

Democrats are governing like Republicans