Tempest in a C Cup

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Because apparently what the world really needs now is a young, perky, semi-intelligent girl named Michel who would like you to help pay for her big shiny new breasts. This is the idea behind giveboobs.com. This is yet another one of those glorious reasons you have DSL and copious free time and an inexhaustible sense of revulsion and awe. This is the sinister, ingenious online begging mini-phenomenon, as originated by savekaryn.com, taken to its next logical, and very nipply, level.
      You might remember Karyn: the blonde, semi-clever, twenty-nine-year-old Brooklyn lass who ostensibly ran up twenty grand in credit card debt and then went online imploring complete strangers to donate to her get-out-of-debt fund because she bought, like, too much pricey makeup at Bergdorf’s and too many Prada boots on eBay? And her site was all, like, cute and simple and sincere and stuff? And her shameless, aw-shucks candor about her vacuous spending habits appealed to something sweet and altruistic in many thousands of sufficiently amused Netizens who all sent her a dollar or two or ten?
      According to her site, Karyn collected her twenty grand. All of it. No more debt. Go figure.
      Then, boom: a hundred copycat sites were spawned, everything from yuppie couples begging for cash to pay for their fertility treatments to despondent pleas for help with medical bills. Ed wants a new Hummer. Penny wants help paying for nursing school so she can have a career after she divorces her nice, boring husband. And so it goes, all the way down to the unfunny dumb guy who just wants to be a millionaire and buy BMWs and big-screen plasma TVs and be a drain on the cultural karmic oversoul for about sixty more years.
      And now there’s giveboobs.com, one young damsel’s attempt to get you, the casual smut-loving boob-attuned Web surfer, to help pay for her boob job because, well, her mom won’t fork over the cash. And the surgery is really expensive. And who doesn’t love the idea of big, rock-hard cataloupes on tiny five-foot-one girls whom you will never date, much less grope the large, oddly unyielding breasts of? Exactly. She has raised $3,300 so far.
      Michel’s site appears to be, at first nipply blush, one part genius, one part sad social commentary, one part sexually empowering yelp of independence, one part proto-feminist sabotage. Or something.
     It is where those icky Cosmo-enabled sexual constructs, those unhealthy and impossibly unrealistic ideals of cheap feminine beauty so loathed by feminists and Oprah, meet perky misguided entrepreneurial spirit. It is a multifaceted minefield of mixed messages. It is quintessential America. Indeed, the site asks one of the most pressing and prescient questions of the day: whom do big hard fake boobs serve more, the proprietor or the populace at large? Who truly derives more pleasure from admittedly shallow but hugely popular acts of plastic surgery? Cutesy, carnally naive Michel, who will henceforth be saddled with increasingly rigid stalactite appendages, or our sexually voracious culture, drunk on heavily airbrushed, buffed and pumped and lipsticked imagery? And hence, who should foot the bill?
      Some dudes might love the idea of giveboobs. Feminists and the sexually attuned might dread and pity it. But is our Michel really the one worthy of such praise or such derision? Where to aim thy finger of ironic lament?
      It’s easy to argue that the evil media — the decades of Baywatch and lad’s mags and bad porn — should be held responsible and should ultimately pay for every woman’s fake boobs — and maybe a few pec implants and hair transplants for the men, too.
      But what to make of the great rallying cry coming from the hordes of freshly boobed American women: Yo, sweetheart, shut up already, they’re our bodies. We love our fake boobs, and what’s the big deal? Imitation body parts are de rigueur, they cry. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel better about your appearance, they claim, pointing out how a full three-quarters of all female celebs — not to mention an estimated 137 percent of L.A. and Miami Beach and Vegas — have gone the way of the fake casabas. Along with nips, tucks, collagen, lipo and Botox, fake tits are now considered mere fashion accessories in the modern woman’s arsenal, like diamond earrings or gold ankle bracelets or, say, Ben Affleck.
      Unless, of course, that’s utter bullshit. Unless you realize what epic amounts of damage hath been wrought upon young women by such messages, how many Prozac prescriptions and bulimia epidemics and Marlboro/salad diets. how many disoriented and denuded seventeen year olds are now cramming the waiting lists of just how many plastic surgeons and psychotherapists.
      But then maybe you think, Oh hell, lighten up already. It’s just a dumb little Web site. My inconsequential buck is funding just one pair of fake boobs in an ocean of silicone. It’s not like I’m contributing to the downfall of Western civilization or anything, right?
      Unless, you know, you are. Just a little. Just a tiny bit. Unless there’s something sort of ugly and sinister beneath the perky giveboobs.com exterior — the idea that you are, essentially, with your one little dollar, casting your vote for the notion of false charity and fake boobs and all they represent, and all the e-begging phenom represents, and really, who needs that ethical fingernail dragged across their karmic chalkboard?
      Sure, giveboobs.com is no big deal. Sure, it’s just momentarily entertaining cultural effluvia. Then again, that’s what they said about pop-up ads. And AOL. Spam. SUVs. J. Lo.
      Herein the lesson: Never underestimate the power of the tacky, superficial, stolen idea. When not even the needy are truly needy anymore, when the genuinely destitute and distressed (hello, Lyme disease) are eclipsed by the vacuously cute, by the lazy and the boobiciously vain begging you to pay for some pointless thing they don’t even need, that they could get themselves if they actually tried and worked and saved, this might be something worth noticing — and worth avoiding. Besides, giveboobs.com certainly, in the end, won’t give our lost Michel any sort of priceless lesson on the value of beauty, or sex, or life, or a buck, or a pair of really nice, small breasts, undistended, breathing free, all-natural and organically nipple-riffic.
      Go ahead — reach up, get a nice grip on giveboobs.com. Take a healthy squeeze of the idea. See? You don’t really want that, do you? 

©2003 Nerve.com, Inc. and Mark Morford


Mark Morford writes for sfgate.com, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle. He was recently named Best Online Columnist for 2003 by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He is also a yoga teacher and fiction writer and an outstanding parallel parker and fervent wine devotee and former L.A. rock-god wannabe and paradoxical contrarian and tattooed love-monkey and ardent dog lover and sincere Astroglide advocate.