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Sad farewell to the silicone dollies

It's a disaster for womankind. Former `Baywatch' babe Pamela Anderson has got rid of her breast implants. Why can't she leave the natural look to the rest of us? By Anita Chaudhuri
BAD NEWS for plastic surgeons. One of the industry's most alluring ambassadors has rather inconveniently gone and had her breast implants removed. Pamela Anderson, for it is she, has suddenly and inexplicably decided to embrace the "natural look".

Whether this will make some of the 8,000 women who have breast-enhancing operations in Britain each year think again, remains to be seen. "Pamela just wanted her body to go back to its natural state," commented Marleah Leslie, Anderson's official spokeswoman. "There were no problems," anxious fans were reassured.

Apparently the star has deflated from a 36D to a 36C. There was, however, no comment made on any plans to further her quest for naturalism by removing the collagen from her lips, the bleach from her hair or the mascara from her lashes.

Since the goddess of silicone has earned untold millions from her preposterous plastic endowments, it seems a bit late in the day for her to start espousing the virtues of realism. This from the creature who made her fortune on Baywatch before graduating to largely non-speaking roles in action movies such as Barb Wire (don't worry, you didn't miss much) and VIP, a syndicated television detective series. Even post-Baywatch, her website still attracts 8 million visitors a month.

True, Anderson (who, appropriately enough, paid for her breast-enlargements out of her first Playboy fee), has not always been happy with her pneumatic shape. "When I came out of the recovery room, I said: `Is that it?' I thought I'd be really huge, like Dolly Parton." Later she commented: "I thought an implant would give me the cleavage I wanted, but with the pain and aggravation, it was hardly worth it."

But, whatever her reasons, Anderson's decision marks a sad day for other, less fantastically proportioned women. Pamela, and her synthetically enhanced sisters Caprice and Anna Nicole Smith, are strangely comforting in their artificiality. We reassure ourselves that these women are freaks, Frankenstein's monsters created by silicone sorcerers. We wouldn't want to look that way, not if you paid us. After all, we reason, if only we too had a spare $2,500 (the sum Anderson spent on her breasts), we could easily look just like that. Since we can't compete with their pneumatic bulges, we can just forget about them and go back to munching our Pop Tarts.

Silicone falsies are a blessing for womankind. Women like Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith look so plastic and pumped up that men can safely fantasise about them without being any more unfaithful than if they were drooling over a rubber doll. To prove the point, Anderson once appeared for the cameras in a spray-on rubber leotard and thigh-high pin-heel boots, observed by her proud husband as though she were a performing seal.

This version of womanhood is unreal, so real men need not engage with it. Of course, there are men whose image of themselves works better when pumped up. Sylvester Stallone reportedly burst into the operating theatre when his girlfriend, Angie Everhart, was about to undergo breast-enhancing surgery and persuaded the surgeon to make them even bigger than she wanted. Why, Sly must have been amazed when she came round from the operation and wasn't very happy about it.

Sarah Grogan, a psychologist and author of Body Image, a study of body dissatisfaction among men, women and children, agrees that Anderson is an archetypal fantasy figure whom men respond to in a way that women don't.

"Men tend to prefer slenderness with largish breasts and this presents a conflict for women who wish to be attractive to men. Media images of women's bodies aimed at a male audience often present an unusual slim- hipped, long-legged, large-breasted ideal. Pamela Anderson is a good example. This ideal is possible for most women only through a mixture of diet, exercise and plastic surgery."

In her study, Grogan asked 200 students aged between 16 and 48, who they would most like to look like. Cindy Crawford scored high among twentysomething women, while Michelle Pfeiffer got 13 per cent of the thirtysomethings' vote. Tellingly, no one mentioned poor Pamela.

Now all that may change. The last thing on earth that we want is for these women to look the way nature intended them to. Overnight our snide comments, of the "nothing but a plastic doll, men are mad to find that attractive" variety, must come to an abrupt halt. Now the Barbie brigade want to throw out the glamour and look like the rest of us. The sickening thing is, they may still look fantastic.