They're Well-Educated, Naturally Beautiful and Not Even 25. Yet They Treat Cosmetic Surgery as Casually as a New Lipstick. the Plastic Generation

Article excerpt


FOR the past two months, it has become a daily ritual for law student Sian Mansell.

Every morning, before the pretty 22-year-old gets dressed, she stands naked in front of a full-length mirror, twisting and turning as she assesses her new silhouette.

Back in August Sian (pictured right) became the first woman in Britain to have silicone calf implants to make her legs shapelier.

She had already boosted her bust from a 34B to 34E in a series of operations, changing surgeons in the process when the first refused to upsize as much as she wanted.

Her new legs, she hoped, would add the finishing touch to her [pounds sterling]15,000 body.

But far from feeling content with her dream figure, Sian is deeply dissatisfied with the results of her surgery.

'I keep trying to convince myself that I'm wrong, but my calves look too big,' she says. 'My legs have been transformed into those of a body building contestant.

'The implants are too wide and, from behind, there is a bulge. These are not the soft, catwalk curves I'd hoped to end up with.' From her reaction, you would imagine, then, that Sian, from Bridgend in South Wales, has finally come to her senses; that the many critics of her controversial operation, including her parents Peter, a retired court administrator and Jeanette, a childminder, have been proved right.

But Sian is not going to give up on her quest for perfection so easily.

Though she hates her new 'Mr Universe' legs, she is not going to have the implants taken out completely.

Despite her experiences so far, and the searing pain she endured after the first operation (it was agonising to walk for five days, she admits), such is her belief in the transforming powers of plastic surgery that she is going to have the offending implants removed and smaller ones put in.

Her misshapen legs, in her view, are simply a problem that can easily be fixed.

'There is a certain amount of trial and error with cosmetic surgery,' she says defensively. 'I'm a perfectionist and I haven't paid all this money to have calves that make me feel self-conscious. But while I'm disappointed with the results, I'm also realistic. I was the first to have this done, so there was a greater risk of error.

'I know my legs can look better than this but that doesn't mean I want to go back to how I was before.

I'm making arrangements to have a second operation early next year.' By doing so, Sian is proving herself typical of a new breed of attractive, educated young women (she is training to be a barrister) who are exerting Svengali-like control over their own bodies.

A naturally stunning girl - a willowy 5ft 8in blonde - Sian didn't need to improve what nature had given her.

Yet here she is talking about calf implants as if she were shopping for a new dress. She is among an unprecedented number of young women who are having plastic surgery at the drop of a hat - 'boob jobs', 'bum jobs', botox injections, collagen fillers, liposuction.

THE list of 'improvements' available is endless and it is estimated that a quarter of all women seeking plastic surgery in Britain are, like Sian, under 25. While that is shocking enough, just as disturbing is the attitude that the body can be shaped and remoulded over and over again, regardless of the price (both financial, mental and physical).

Sian, for one, discusses her body as if she were talking about a new car. A child of the consumer generation through and through, she even compares the 'incredible buzz of a successful operation' to the buzz she gets when she goes shopping.

'It's akin to the feeling you have when you know you look incredible in an outfit, but you get a dose of that high every single morning,' she says. Her attitude does not surprise Kate Fox, social anthropologist and director of the Oxford-based Social Issues Research Centre. …