The Vagenda

The Sun’s Got Some Front

So, yesterday, the Sun ran a story about a 22-year-old woman who recently received a £4,800 boob job on the NHS. It was tastefully placed directly opposite a story on the NHS refusing to fund experimental treatment for a 3-year-old cancer patient, weirdly dubbed “cancer girl” by the newspaper. It was also charmingly titled “She’s Got Some Front”. Har har, good one, Sun, I see what you did there.
A photograph of the newspaper stories immediately went viral, collecting well over 20,000 shares and 3,076 comments. And man, people are pissed off at this woman. I didn’t read all of the comments, because I’m a pretty important girl and have lots of shit to do (that was a lie, it’s just that there’s only so much misogyny that my delicate little lady-stomach can handle), but here’s just a few of the things that wannabe glamour model Josie was called in the comment thread: a “selfish cow”, a “sluttt”, a “tramp thinking of herself when some child has to die”, a “bitch” whose parents are “clearly not doen a good job”, a “slag”, having “a face like a fat mans crack” (somewhat predictably, this one was from a man with a face like a fat man’s crack), “bone idel” and “discusting”. It is also suggested that she should have given the money to the little girl for her cancer treatment, because that’s totally how NHS funding works.
Let’s get a couple of things straight here. Well, there’s really only one thing to get straight, and that’s that this is bullshit. But there are subsections of this bullshittery, so I shall elaborate. Firstly, these are two entirely, totally incomparable cases. On one hand we have a girl whose lack of breast tissue was damaging her confidence to the point that she couldn’t go out without a padded bra on. She went to her GP to talk about her issues, and he recommended her for the surgery. The operation cost just shy of £5,000 and took Josie from a 32A to a 36DD. On the other hand, we have the incredibly tragic story of a three-year-old girl diagnosed with a very rare cancer that NHS doctors believed to be incurable. When her parents found a New York clinic willing to provide an experimental treatment, the NHS refused to fund it. The price of the treatment is not revealed in the article, but the parents have raised over £1million. I’m not going to discuss whether the NHS was right to refuse this funding, because I don’t know anything about the situation or how successful the treatment is likely to be. But I flatly refuse to sit back and watch people attack a poor, insecure woman as though she single-handedly stole the money straight out of the little girl’s piggy bank. £5000 is a drop in the ocean in comparison with the vast amount of money needed to pay for Lilly’s cancer treatment. I think it’s frankly offensive that the Sun have run these stories side-by-side as though they are somehow related. Josie’s boob job was not the deciding factor on whether Lilly got treatment. If Josie hadn’t gotten her boobs done, the money would have gone on something else.
If you haven’t seen the paper yet, take a wild guess at which of the two stories gets the most coverage. If you guessed that it’s the one illustrated by a fabulously busty young girl being delighted with her new funbags, congratulations! While undoubtedly attempting to turn the reader against Josie by portraying her as a benefit scrounging, child murdering Katie Price wannabe, the Sun just can’t let old habits die hard, and include a raunchy snap of Josie’s new chesticles, a photograph of Katie Price smouldering away, and a selection of quotes describing how happy she is with her new body. Call me a radical, fun-killing feminazi, but I think it’s kind off shitty for the newspaper single handedly perpetuating Page 3 culture to then throw a young woman to the lions for buying into their relentless image-bashing. What would be really fucking great is if the media could stop perpetuating insanely irresponsible beauty standards and encouraging girls to aspire to nothing more than big boobs and column inches. How many girls will have come away from that story with nothing more than “She got a boob job, and is in the newspaper now”. 
Girls, if you’re reading this (and really you shouldn’t be, there’s too much S-E-X on this website for you, but if you are), your boobs are great. Really, they are. And I’m speaking as someone who has come to terms with having a chest so flat that you could build an airport on it. Seriously, you do not need boobs the size of your head. When you get old enough, boys will be so happy to be seeing actual boobs in real life that it literally doesn’t matter how big they are.
This isn’t a story about an evil, self-centred woman funnelling money away from a little girl’s cancer treatments. This should be a story about why the size of a young woman’s breasts were so tied to her sense of self-worth that her doctor recommended she get them enlarged. And I don’t think the Sun would have to look to far to find the answer to that one.
I give it a month before she’s on Page 3.
(Editor’s note: To prove our point, by the time this went to press, The Sun had indeed featured ‘Wannabe Josie’ in a topless shoot. You can have a look at it here, if you must.) 
- FL


39 thoughts on “The Sun’s Got Some Front

  1. My breasts are the same size as Josie’s before she got the surgery. Fortunately, I feel comfortable enough with myself not to value my self worth on the size of my boobs, but it’s disturbing to know that if I went to the doctors with self image issues, they might recommend a breast enlargement instead of counselling…

  2. Absolutely disgusting. If she really wanted bigger boobs she should have saved up like most people have to. the only reason she’s getting the s**t she is because the NHS has paid. I have had depression due to body issue (newspapers and mags don’t help when they have stick thin or big boobed woman in them. i never buy them anymore) I didnt get offered cosmetic surgery counselling is what i had they helped me understand that everyone is different and you have to love yourself the way you are. bigger boobs won’t help because although she now has them and maybe her depression has gone (for now) the s**t shes gonna get is just going to make her more depressed hope they were worth it. really don’t see the point of any pointless NHS cosmetic surgery especially with the 20 bn cut backs they are having to have. Should only be done if suffered with cancer on any other life changing event. all it seems she wants to do is use them for money well the NHS should send her the bill!!!!!!!!!

  3. Seconding Jennafer’s comments that it is really disturbing that the doctors thought that a boob job would be a better idea than counselling. Perhaps they thought her self-esteem was so low that the amount of therapy she’d need would be more costly than a boob job.

  4. I’m thirding(is that a word?)the comment that it’s disturbing the doctors gave her a boob job instead of counselling. To me, this almost implies that the doctors were agreeing that her smaller breasts were indeed inadequate, and needed enlarging. The issue was her low self-esteem, not her boobs. By giving her the surgery they have dealt with the symptom and not the cause.

  5. It makes me so angry that people blame the media for ‘perpetuating ridiculously high beauty standards’ and ‘making girls feel bad’. Yes, the majority of media shows beautiful women, but what’s wrong with that? EVERYONE knows such pictures are photo-shopped to death. And if you use magazines to make yourself feel bad then frankly you’re a f***ing idiot and the only person whose actually making you feel bad is YOU. Who wants to look at people who are unattractive anyway? STOP BLAMING THE MEDIA.

  6. What are they doing about your vile personality that blames victims and calls ill people ‘fucking idiots’. Don’t censor your swearing, it’s not nearly as disgusting as your opinions.

  7. I was offered this surgery on the NHS when I was 19. I was depressed, I was thin, and like most flat-chested teenage girls I felt like I’d missed out on the goodie bags at the end of the party. But luckily for me (because now I am very happy with my still barely-existent breasts) I said ‘no thank you, rather than change my body I’d quite like to change the society.’ Coolest thing I’ve ever said. It can be difficult being flat chested, like when I put on some weight and went for a bra fitting. During the first attempt the lady took one look at me and said ‘oh don’t worry love, what are you? 16? They’ll grow’ when I told her (with a face like grumpy cat) that I was 21 she cheerfully said ‘Well I’ll grab some fillers and we’ll do the fitting with those in!’ I left. The next attempt was at M&S and the girl took a lot of convincing before she would bring me anything without padding, and by ‘convincing’ I mean I wrapped myself in the changing room curtain and refused to let her near me with the bright pink and way too solid looking bra that had more substance than my actual breasts. I swear my chest could have been on fire Mrs Doubtfire style for an hour before I felt the heat with that thing on. I suppose my point is that anyone with a socially-acceptable chest won’t understand how difficult it can be for someone more ironing board-esque. But without knowing the full story, I think that the money could also have been spent of counselling to help her overcome her body issues. Will the NHS pay again when they have to be replaced? I don’t think those things last forever. Give a girl some fake boobs and she’ll be happy for a decade, teach her self-worth and she’ll be happy for a lifetime.

  8. “EVERYONE knows such pictures are photo-shopped to death.”

    Do you have any evidence for this? I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that a huge number of young girls are brought up thinking the image of “perfect” the magazines portray really is perfect, and unfortunately not every child has parents who care enough to spend the time telling them otherwise.

    Look, the problem with the media is this- they are, for all intents and purposes, smart people. You need to be relatively intelligent to get a job at most major newspapers, let alone in charge of content. And yet, instead of using that intelligence to try raise the standard of society, they’re happy to prey on the gullible, young girls who haven’t been raised to know any better (of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it does apply in many cases), all in the name of making as much money as possible. It’s not illegal, but frankly it’s morally reprehensible to use a position of power to lower the public intellect in the name of money-making.

    (PS: I’m very happy that I managed to take the moral high-ground and not point out that thevelvetribbon is a magnificently vapid cunt. Whoops!)

  9. They’re not doing anything about it because I’m too busy doing things in life that actually matter like, studying for a degree, rather than complaining to the NHS about made up problems. There is no victim here, someone born flat-chasted is not a victim, and I should know because I’m the same size as this girl was pre-boob job, and guess what, I don’t give a shit because there are more important things in my life than tits.

  10. Wow – an unusual amount of vitriol for a Vagenda comments page – especially for what is, essentially, just a rather sad story. The SUN is, as ever, a legitimate target for wroth. Josie seems guilty of nothing more than having bought into the whole glamour-model image, which is likely to make her life enough of a torment without anyone else (the SUN included) needing to put the boot in.

    On a separate note, having once dated a smart, confident young woman who suffered from similar body issues and who had considered having breast enhancement surgery as a teenager in order to make herself feel more confident, I don’t find it at all hard to believe that there are people whose lack of normative bodies (as defined by our popular culture) could leave them with crippling feelings of inadequacy. Whether surgery is the answer to these feelings, is, of course, debatable, but since our only source of information is the dubious reporting of the aforementioned rag, this feels like one worth a bit of benefit-of-the-doubt.

  11. I’m glad the Vagenda has written about this. The story “broke” for me on my Facebook newsfeed, along the lines of, “How dare the NHS give this woman bigger boobs when this child is dying of cancer” and then the ensuing judgmental comments from others.

    My first reaction when I see any picture, or real life human, who has gone to extreme lengths to change their appearance is mental illness. Body dysmorphic disorder is real, it happens and in my humble opinion there are thousands, perhaps millions (?), of people who suffer from it in today’s image obsessed world.

    Like other commentators on this post my other thought was why surgery and not counselling? But, as someone has pointed out, we don’t know how much counselling Josie has actually had. I think it’s highly unlikely that she would have got surgery following one consultation and if my understanding is correct the NHS practice is to have multiple referrals to doctors on a case such as this as well as counselling.

    I personally felt sympathy for Josie and the blatant manipulation of her and her story by the Sun.

    Final note, nice comments from the two gentlemen on this article.

  12. Agreed. Highly doubtful she’d have gotten referred for what is a serious operation following a single visit to a doctor.

  13. Thevelvetribbon, if I had not overcome my own body dysmorphia and eating disorders (which I still struggle with on occasion), the origins of which are definitely in part in the media, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have, notably a first-class bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Cambridge. I say this not to boast but to point out that those who have very deep-seated self-worth issues and body dysmorphic disorders, which if untreated can indeed lead to extreme measure such as surgery, starvation, or, in the worst cases, suicide, are not vapid, self-obsessed idiots with nothing else to do with their time and who are so stupid that they can not differentiate between a Photoshopped picture and a non-Photoshopped picture. The media is excellent at manipulating vulnerable minds, especially at a young age – which is when the vast majority of eating disorders and self-confidence problems start. This lack of self-worth, brought on in part by the fact that one does not feel ‘good enough’ compared to the women shown in magazines, on television, on film, is carried right through to adulthood and, while it may change form somewhat, remains just as vicious and poisonous if left untreated.

    Therefore, if you do want to accomplish things greater than worrying about your tits or arse, you have to overcome these issues, disorders and diseases, in order to be able to function correctly and do what you really want to do with your life. The voice inside your head convinces you, time and time again, that you aren’t good enough to accomplish your ambitions, and it’s only by silencing it that you are free to accomplish them. The media does not plant this voice in your head, but it certainly gives it a megaphone. This woman’s body confidence was clearly so devastatingly low that this measure was regarded as necessary by medical professionals – perhaps now that voice will have been silenced for long enough for her to get on with the life she wants, and not the life to which the voice constrained her.

  14. Fantastic article. I’ll start with a quote:
    “… What would be really fucking great is if the media could stop perpetuating insanely irresponsible beauty standards … How many girls will have come away from that story with nothing more than “She got a boob job, and is in the newspaper now”
    This is a key point. I read the follow-up, not the original piece. Josie was given something like a ‘proper’ glamour girl spread, and her view was basically that she used to be insecure and unhappy and now she’s in the paper – woohoo! It seemed that she was defining her self-worth hugely in terms of how she perceived her own appearance, as measured by how much external attention she got for her appearance.
    I’m not a psychologist, but this seems to me to be shaky grounds on which to base your self-esteem. How long is the ‘high’ from these new breasts going to last? Isn’t that underlying attitude of ‘yay I’m happy because I’m pretty enough to be in a paper’ far more of a problem?
    That this was previously juxtaposed with the cancer article really highlights the ‘women can’t win’ dilemma so often expressed on the Vagenda. So, one day: New Beauties NHS Boob Bounty Bonanza! “My fake boobs made me famous therefore happy!” The day before? Evil Tits Steal Cancer Cure From Baby! Note that in neither case are we interested in her character or achievements. Either way, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, she’s being defined by her looks.
    This leads me to the comment by snowyowl. It’s a very interesting and important question – aren’t the doctors, by taking this step, effectively saying that her body is ‘wrong’ and in need of ‘correction’?
    One approach could be to consider transgendered people. It seems to be the case that gender reassignment surgery is often successful. (See link here to Paris Lees article on Lucy Meadows
    Is there not a question as to whether such people could feel perfectly comfortable in their own bodies in a society with more fluid and mature ideas about gender? Is the hatred of one’s own body more a product of being genetically ‘assigned’ the wrong gender, or is it more to do with the pressure society puts on all of us to conform to gender ideals?
    Has she not been given something comparable to gender reassignment surgery? A kind of gender reinforcement surgery? Was she unable to quite see herself as the female she feels herself to be without the confirmation of bigger breasts? Now that she has them is she perhaps finally able to match her external appearance to her internal feelings?
    Had she been through huge amounts of counselling, and was this ultimately seen as essential because, like with transgendered people, if she hand’t had this surgery she would have been at major risk of suicide?
    Yet, and yet, even though this may well be the right decision for her, reached with impeccable professionalism and consideration all round, isn’t it fucked up that people should feel like this?
    What does it tell us about our society if so many people can become so unhappy at the shape of their natural bodies that they need surgery in order to feel some semblance of normality? Where many people only feel ‘natural’ after undergoing invasive and artificial processes in order to reshape the actual natural? (Among women over 18 looking at themselves in the mirror, research indicates that at least 80% are unhappy with what they see
    On an everyday level I can’t help but think of the cosmetics industry. Isn’t that conundrum at the heart of it? We are all natural, by definition. Yet why do so many of us not feel natural unless we artificially alter ourselves?

  15. Sorry for going on so long and apologies for the formatting – I was seriously running out of characters and wordpress apparently counts letters in a different way to MS word!

    As that was my first post I really want to thank the Vagenda team for a superb site – important issues examined in depth, with great intelligence and some serious theoretical background, but written in such a way as to induce regular tea-snorts onto my poor, unfortunate keyboard. Many thanks, you have and keep opening my mind up to new ideas, keep up the good work!

  16. I’m more appalled by the fact that this chick went from a band size 32 to a 36 without seeming to gain a pound. Ignoring the NHS issue (it’s been discussed enough in the comments without my adding to it), what pisses me off is the fact that they’ve gotten her bra size really wrong. :/ I’m not going to fathom a guess at what her actual bra size is (I’m not a professional fitter and can’t tell by photos), but it’s definitely not a 36DD.

  17. If you have five minutes, complain about this comment:

    Since its us the tax payers that funded this boob job then therefore
    we should all be able to spend a night with her whenever we like
    cos its our money.
    Am sure everyone on here will agree with that.
    Thats a fair agreement don’t you think guys?

    Just asking them to remove it doesnt seem enought given they allow something so awful to be published on their website…

  18. a friend of mine got a boob job on the nhs as she had really uneven boobs, that was cosmetic but it completely changed her life…..i dont think the wee girl should getthe nhs to pay for treatment in america, thats not the NHS so its not fair!!

  19. Conditions such as body dysmorphia and anorexia are serious mental illness that cannot be blamed on the media. Looking at such media will undoubtedly make a sufferer feel worse but I do not believe that that is where a mental illness can originate. If a sufferer is looking at magazines etc and thinking ‘why don’t I look that good’, then they are ones that have put that voice in their head, the media doesn’t tell them that, it just shows beautiful people because that’s what people like to look at. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that, and the majority of readers (I believe from my own experience) are intelligent enough to know that such images are edited/photoshopped etc.

  20. Evidence that pictures are photoshopped or that everyone knows it? In answer to both as long as you have eyes and are capable of looking at people in real life then it’s obvious to anyone that real people do not have ‘pore-less skin’ etc. I understand children would not understand this concept, but from my own experiences as a kid, the majority of teens (supposedly the most vulnerably age group) do. The media is based on supply and demand, if people weren’t stupid enough to buy trashy magazines etc then they wouldn’t be produced. Oh and the people that buy them already have an incredibly low intellect so I wouldn’t worry about that.

    (P.S: Insulting me just reduces the credibility of your argument, I can do it too look – cunt, cunt, cunt, cunt.

  21. To thevelvetribbon – You keep saying that it’s ‘the people that buy the magazines’ – it’s not just magazines that are ‘the media’, you only have to switch on a television to see models dancing about being used as advertising bait. Couple that with the fact that conventionally unattractive women are shot down by the press – see Mary Beard and Hilary Mantel – and the amount of crap on the internet where censorship is basically non existent and the main insult used against women is ‘ugly’ (including your delightful comment about this girl’s face)and it’s understandable why self-esteem issues linked with body image are so prevalent. It is very very difficult to get away from images of ‘perfect’ women. I am an intelligent person, raised to not worry about body image as personality is more important, am in a loving relationship, and yet I can’t help feeling like crap sometimes because of the fact I do not look like all these women shoved in my face. I know I’m not overweight, but I’m a bit flat chested and have chunky calves. This should not be a big deal but some days feels like it is. I don’t understand why you’re being so horrid about this girl you know absolutely nothing about, other than the fact the NHS gave her a breast augmentation and now she’s in the Sun. Sounds like exploitation on their part, but we don’t know if she’s had tons of therapy or how much they paid her for her story. This article was about the Sun’s poor journalistic practice, not this girl’s right to feel better about herself.

  22. Thanks for the link to the pic… the new fake tits look awful, as they usually do. She ought to be suing her surgeon.
    I can understand women who have had mascectomies wanting reconstructive surgery, but frankly a woman who wants fake tits because what they have naturally aren’t enough has a bigger problem between the ears.

  23. She didn’t need boobs that big. What’s wrong with a C or D at the most? It doesn’t fit her frame. I don’t understand why so many women get such ridiculously big boobs

  24. Did anyone actually read the article and the others around this issue? Her obsession with a boob job appears to be motivated by her desire to become a glamour model.

  25. Thank you! This article highlights how little people know about bra sizes. Unless part of the surgery was to enlarge her rib cage, her band measurement would still be a 32. She’d probably be a 32F (assuming DD was an accurate guess at the cup size)

  26. What we should really be worrying about is why is a surgeon who’s done such a bad job being paid with public money. I have no strong feelings either way about procedures like this being done on the NHS but the results in the link at the bottom are really, really poor.