"Every couple of weeks the local media reports the death of a woman after having had cosmetic surgery -- breast implants, liposuction, buttock enhancement operations."

Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation Correspondent

Thomson Reuters Foundation correspondents offer digestible commentary on pressing issues. “Two-minute talking points” bring you distilled insight from the front lines of humanitarian crises, climate change, corruption and human rights.

Transcript:

When I first arrived in Bogota over 10 years ago, I lived opposite a hairdresser which was busy by 6.30 am.

Women came to get their hair straightened and nails done before going to work.

I knew female students who went to school after getting nose jobs -- presents for their 16th birthdays.

I’ve been amazed by the lengths Colombian women go to look perfect.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But women are paying with their lives in their quest for a fuller figure.

Every couple of weeks the local media reports the death of a woman after having had cosmetic surgery -- breast implants, liposuction, buttock enhancement operations.

Ultimately these deaths are the result of often rogue doctors cashing in on the desire of Colombian women to look a certain way.

But what’s driving this?

It’s partly to do with the prevailing machismo in society.

But it’s also the lingering legacy of Colombia’s narco culture that dates back to the 1980s and 1990s during the era of the big cocaine cartels in the cities of Medellin and Cali.

Then, the way a women looked was dictated by the tastes of drug barons.

That meant big breasts and bums, tiny waists, long hair, lots of bling and tight fitting clothes to show it all off.

Drug culture has shaped an aesthetic that some Colombian women still aspire to.

Perhaps the best example was the hit soap opera ‘Without tits there’s no paradise’ which aired on local tv in 2006.

Based on a true story, it’s about girls in a poor Colombian town who all get breast implants to attract drug barons because they believe that’s the best way to happiness and a fast track to riches.

Where else in the world would you find a soap like that?

And the thing is, some Colombian women still believe it’s true.

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