. . . An undercover exposition of body enhancement industry
By Azoma Chikwe, Nkiru Odinkemelu and Sarah Akinlose
Human needs appear to be insatiable, this does not only apply to material things but also reflects on the way human beings see themselves. One may say that no matter how handsome or beautiful an individual is, there may be a part of their body they would have loved to look different. `
People’s idea of an ideal look differs from one person to the other. While a person with a relatively small nose may like it bigger and pointed; another with a small or average breast or penis wants it bigger and vice versa. According to psychologists, when a person does not measure up to his or her ideal look, it could lead to low self-esteem.
Investigation revealed that body enhancement practice has been there for ages but the recent use of surgery, either cosmetic or correctve to modify body parts brought body enhancement business to limelight.
Statistics from American Society of Plastic Surgeons, has it that America had nearly 14 million cosmetic procedures in 2011, spending about $10.1 billion in the process on collagen and botox injections, breast implant, buttocks lifts and nose jobs.
Lack of data has, however, made it impossible to ascertain the depth of the trend of cosmetology and body enhancement in Nigeria. Inspite of this, information gathered from the beauty parlours visited by Daily Sun shows that the trend is growing at a fast pace in Nigeria and could have grown faster but for the moral values and cultural beliefs of the people.
While most Nigerians may not be involved in the easily noticeable cosmetic surgeries like facelift, research conducted by Daily Sun has it that more Nigerians are plunging into the unseen ones like vagina tightening, penis elongation, breast and buttocks enlargement or reduction, weight loss and tummy tuck.
Commenting on the trend of body enhancement, an expert, Dr. Gabriel Omonaiye, said it may not be unconnected with sex drive and western influence. “I think there is a sex revolution out there. Maybe it is one of the signs of the endtime because there is a lot of interest in looks, in being sociable, in fashion and sex. The world is a global village, whatever happens in one part of the world is accessible in the remotest parts of the world, people want to look like popular artistes.
“The sex industry is one of the richest industries in the world, whether it is pornography, prostitution, enhanced looks etc. So, there is information dissemination going on in a very high rate. Someone once said that nothing sells like sex and whether we like it or not, it’s a big commercial enterprise. I think it contributes to alcohol, penis elongation, bleaching, tightening of the vagina and so on. And the media is playing a big role in this, you put on the television, you are confronted by nude women, musicians stimulating sexual urge. You put on your ipad, it is there. Somebody wants to market cars, he looks for naked women to advertise them. You want to sell your items, same. Everything has been sexualised and that is why I think there is a spiritual force behind these things. Unfortunately too, sex has been liberalised in the leading nations of the world and they have a lot of influence on the way we see things. Many people believe that whatever happens in America and Europe is the way to go. The world has become a global village, everything happening there gets here easily, people want to be like them.
“Sex that used to be in the closet has been brought to the open , in the handset, some people even do it in the church and you know that what you see, hear and what is in your mind constantly has a way of influencing what one considers to be a priority. So, most people have been sexualised unconsciously. The impression is that if you are not involved in sex, you are missing something great, it’s like a movement that so many people are keying into, either consciously or unconsciously. There are different ways of indoctrinating people directly or indirectly, subtle ways that before you realise it, it has been internalised. That is one of the major issues now and nobody wants to be left out.”
Despite the trend, most body enhancement clinics in the country still operate under cover. They disguise as beauty parlours, herbal beauty clinics, skin care and beauty spas, herbal therapy outfits to do the body enhancement business. Reasons are the moral question of increasing or decreasing parts of one’s body and lack of logical reasons that can be widely accepted by the larger society. So, operators seem to believe that their services are for a class of people, they are careful who is consulting them. It must be somebody or people who are ready to tamper with nature, from changing skin colour, hair colour, sizes of breasts, hips, penis and vagina hole and can afford it. Practitioners believe it is not for everybody, the class of people they target are at home with altering the sizes of parts of their bodies and are ready to go back for further adjustments if need be.
The silent message is, one needs to first accept body enhancement as a way of life to get involved. It is a thing of acceptance, perception and of course cash. Again, the history of how body enhancement business started in Nigeria impacted a lot on how they operate. Most operators started from running beauty parlours and spas where colours of skin, fingernail and hair can be altered on clients request alongside gyms for weight loss and flattening of the the clients’ tummy to showcase a better figure or posture. Many operators use herbs sourced locally and from Asia, especially China. Undoubtedly, in the course of their business interactions, the Chinese taught them how one can use herbs to lose weight, to flatten pot belly, melt bellyfat and also enlarge the breasts, hips, penis and tighten the vagina.
Nigeria is a business hub and this line of business is also enjoying the usual Nigerian rush. A body enhancement clinic visited by our reporters proved this to be the situation. Getting them to talk was difficult and operating as undercover reporters they paid for card, registered to see the consultant who proudly told them they had just become one of the 14, 526 clients that particular branch alone in Lagos will be catering for. And the firm has other branches in Abuja, Asaba, Calabar, Benin, Kaduna, Portharcourt, Jos, Minna, Enugu, Lagos Island and London, maybe each branch with same huge client portfolio.
Also that the business is booming was buttressed by the intimidating office spaces some operators rent in highbrow areas of cities to locate their clinics that cost millions of Naira per annum in rent.
While our reporters tried to get themselves registered, other clients also came in to make enquiries, while others on appointment also came in.
But for wisdom, our reporters would have been uncovered by a consultant who was mindful of whom he was speaking to; having looked at the card of the lady journalist, he asked the male journalist, “Who is she to you?” Uncertain about the reason for the question, common sense made the male journalist lie that she was a girlfriend. And it was at this point that the consultant relaxed and sighed, “I was just wondering because I know you’re over 40 and the lady is just 22, I would have been surprised if you said she’s your wife.” The reporters also let out a sigh of relief because if the male had said she was his wife, they would have embarrassed themselves because the subsequent questions were intimate and it would have been suspicious if couples cannot answer simple questions about each other.
Looking at the lady who had requested for breast enlargement and vagina tightening, the consultant asked, “Why do you want bigger bust, your size is okay. “But I’ll prefer it bigger” said the reporter. “And why do you want to tighten your vagina, is his penis not too big for you?”
Convinced that the couple were out for what they wanted, he rested his questions and started to counsel them. Then our reporters began to ask questions like potential clients but unknown to the consultant, a phone voice recorder taped the conversation,