Clare has a shape that could sweep many men off their feet. She also dresses well. With her beautiful face and attention-grabbing figure, it’s obvious she can get any man she wants. But in spite of all these good things going for her, Clare, almost 40 years old, is not in any serious relationship. Though she parties with her girlfriends and hangs out with men who are always eager to be with her, she lives in agony.
Years ago, when she was still in the university, she had carried a ‘load’ that she can’t drop without turning herself into a laughing stock among her friends. She had always admired ladies with big bosoms but she was not so endowed. One day, she went into a lingerie shop and got herself a well-padded bra. She was so happy with her new shape that years after, she got herself a bum enhancer and was transformed into a ‘well-endowed lady.’
However, she is in a dilemma now. Men who want to have serious relationship with her are always disappointed when they discover her bosoms and bum are not real afterall. To make matter worse, she can’t cope without her shape enhancers. They have become part of her life.
Push-up bras have long found their way into women’s fashion while bum enhancers are getting popular more and more everyday. But the danger is that both are moving beyond the wardrobes into the hearts of women.
Investigation by Saturday PUNCH shows that many women in Lagos have become addicted to using push-up bras and bum enhancers. Meanwhile, the downside of the trend, as explained by many of the women, is that they lack confidence when they don’t have the body gears to rely on.
Basically, the push-up bra –as the name suggests – is padded in such a way that it thrusts the bosoms forward and make them appear rounder and fuller. Similarly, bum enhancers are padded gears worn like panties or ‘bum shorts’. They give a woman noticeable curves in the hip and bum areas. And like the push-up bra, a bum enhancer will most times ensure the wearer gets the attention of men, even if she is not that naturally endowed.
For instance, a female banker, who identified herself as Kemi, said she is the “number one fan of push-up bras”, saying she never steps out of her home without having them on. However, Kemi feared that she had gotten addicted to the use of the fashion gear.
She said, “The truth is that I don’t like how I (my bosoms) look without the push-up bras. I’m addicted to them to the extent that I don’t feel okay wearing the normal ones again. Even when I’m wearing a camisole under a jacket, I don’t feel alright without a push-up bra.
“It makes me feel more confident and when I feel confident, I tend to work better. I actually tried a few times to stop and go back to using normal bras, but it’s been difficult because I don’t like the way I look in them. It’s like I always get positive attention when I wear push-up bras.”
Popularly called bum-bum or yodi at Lagos open markets, bum enhancer is relatively new in the market when compared to the push-up bra.
Ms. Titi Babatunde, who sells women’s underwear at Oshodi Market, Lagos, said she sold at least 24 bum enhancers a week.
Babatunde explained that the N1,200 price tag on the Chinese-made bum enhancers on display at her stall, was as a result of a drastic reduction in its price a few years ago. It used to go for N3,000. Investigation, however, shows that the more expensive European or North-American designed bum enhancers cost N4,000 and above in stores across Lagos.
She said, “Even when it was N3,000 women used to rush it. There is no day I don’t sell yodi and push-up bra. I sell up to two dozens of yodi and 10 dozens of push-up bras in a week. Both students and workers, young and old patronise us.”
A buyer, who identified herself as Janet, said that she loved wearing bum enhancers because they helped in making her more attractive.
Like Kemi, Janet’s confidence level seems to be tied to her use of bum enhancers.
She said, “The bum enhancers give me what I lack naturally. Honestly, I used to feel bad that my friends were getting more attention from guys. But now, I have a boyfriend too. But it’s not something women like to announce to everyone. Most women like to keep it as a secret.”
Asked if her boyfriend is pleased with her real shape, she said, “I wear jeans (jean trousers) most times and he hasn’t seen me in anything else. I don’t know yet if he will notice later or not, but when we get to that bridge, we will cross it.”
At Oke-Arin Market on the Lagos Island, Mr. Laide Adedeji, who also sells women underwear, including push-up bras and bum enhancers, said his female customers included women of 60 years and above. He blamed the society, particularly men, for putting pressure on women to have specific figures.
He said, “That is why you find women of 18 years and above coming to buy all these push-up bras and bum enhancers to live up to the expectations of the society. Some women have small bosoms, but they feel bad because you hear men joking that there will be nothing to play with.
“The same thing applies to bums too; those that don’t have hips or bums that men like don’t feel good about it. I get customers as old as 60 years asking for push-up bras and bum enhancers. They say the enhancers push their tummies inside and make Iro and buba (native attire) fit them better.”
But it is not only fashion gears that are trendy among women aiming at head-turning figures; the popularity of buttocks injection and other cosmetic procedures to modify bosoms and bums is also fast increasing in Lagos.
An Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Idowu Fadeyibi, confirms that the hospital sees many patients who require cosmetic procedures to modify their body parts. He explained that Nigeria’s conservative culture was largely responsible for patients wanting to keep such procedures secret.
He said bosom surgery is becoming more common among Nigerian women who come more to reduce the size and modify the shape of their bosoms.
“We do reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries and people come for both, although the ratio is about ten to one, because more people come for reconstructive surgery. Sometimes, we remove from one part of the body and add to another to make the other part more prominent or the addition could be synthetic (artificial),” he said.
For instance, Fadeyibi said a procedure could involve removing fat from the tummy and adding this to the bosoms and buttocks as enhancement. Alternatively, he said the use of implants and expanders are also employed, depending on the case.
Investigation shows that a significant number of men are suckers for firm bosoms and round bums, but whether they like the use of fashion gears by women to enhance body features is another issue entirely.
A cross section of men, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on the issue, questioned the social and moral justification of women wearing body gears that create an illusion of a supposed finer figure.
They said they were tired of seeing women who appeared well endowed and beautiful only for them to be disappointed at the end of the day after finding out that the bosoms and the bums weren’t as big as they had thought.
Mr. Femi Mohammed, a geo-scientist, described the use of fashion gears like bum enhancer and the push-up bra by women as ‘unfair’.
“It is cheating because it is plain deception. Men don’t use fake body parts to attract women, so women have no reason to resort to deception to look beautiful. It may be true that men like women that have good shapes, but what’s the use if the beautiful women are just artificial?” he asked.
Mohammed added that he could never marry a woman addicted to such fashion gears.
Also, Mr. Muyiwa Babafemi recalled trying to get the attention of a beautiful busty lady for three months before he finally succeeded.
Babafemi, however, said he felt disappointed when he saw a ‘completely different person’ during his first intimate moment with the woman.
He said, “She went to the bathroom and when she came out, she did not have the features I thought she had. Initially, I thought she had big bosoms, but when she came out, everything had become flat. I was really disappointed.
“I had to advise her to stop the deception; even if she would enhance her looks, it doesn’t have to be so much that it will be so obvious. Any man would be disappointed, especially, if he was attracted to the lady in the first place because of her bosoms.”
But Babatunde, who claimed to be defending the rights of women to “continue to look good,” said there was nothing wrong with women’s over-reliance on bum enhancers and push-up bras. She said that since women give birth, it then gives them a tenable excuse to improve their appearance, artificially or not.
Babatunde, who also wears bum enhancers and push-up bras said, “Once a woman gives birth, her body can never be the same. So women need secret things like that to continue to look good, even when they are out of shape. It’s called ‘packaging’.”
Also, Mrs. Mosunmola Awolola of Damscare Ventures, Ikeja, Lagos, who sells female underwear, advised women to be cautious in their use of fashion gears that create wrong impressions.
Awolola said she always warned her customers of the danger of getting addicted to these shape enhancers.
She said, “Although, they have advantages since they don’t have side effects like drugs, there are disadvantages too. The major disadvantage is that many women get addicted to using them.
“But still, I warn my customers that such things are not for everyday use or one will soon lack confidence in her real self.”
Awolola recalled a recent incident where a customer ‘tried’ a push-up bra for the first time in her store and immediately fell in love with it.
She said, “The first thing the lady said was that she would never wear a normal bra again. This was a lady we spent so much time convincing to, at least, try the push-up bra because we didn’t have what she wanted. The lady eventually dumped her bra and wore the push-up bra she bought home. She also promised to come back for more.”
A man may not easily know when a woman is wearing a push-up bra or a bum enhancer but Awolola said getting to know this is not as difficult as it seems. She said the fashion gears make the bosoms, bum and hips to appear ‘too perfect’.
“Those of us selling them know when someone is using them. The trick is that when the shape of a lady’s bum or bosoms appears too good to be true,it has probably been enhanced,” she said.
Speaking on the risk involved in aesthetic surgical procedures, Fadeyibi described such surgeries as safe, if done properly.
In addition, Fadeyibi described the recent quest for aesthetic surgery to enhance body parts such as bosoms and buttocks as justifiable. Saturday PUNCH learnt that an average buttocks enhancement job costs at least N3m. Implants for buttocks cost about N600,000, excluding hospital charges and drugs.
A fitness instructor, Mr. Kola Lijoka, however, has different ideas on how to achieve self confidence and body enhancement. According to him, the application and use of surgical procedures and injections to get bigger bums is “totally unnecessary.”
He said, “At the gym, your instructor will tell you what to do to enhance your body shape through exercising. This is healthy and can be achieved in three months, depending on what needs to be achieved.”
He added that ‘simple squatting’ can do a lot of good to the hips and bum, and that other specific exercises are available to help the chest area of both men and women.
A Consultant Psychiatrist with the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Oshodi, Dr. Mashudat Bello-Mojeed, said the problem confronting ladies that find it hard to do without body gears could be described as “low self esteem”.
She said, “It has to do with the self fulfillment aspect of a human being. For example, for somebody with a deformity or sagging bosoms, it can be like a mark of shame. So, such things like push-up bras offer a palliative solution. Of course, this is a false relief because the problem persists and once the thing is not there, the person will not have that self esteem she normally has when using it.”
Bello-Mojeed, however, advised those addicted to these body enhancers to “identify the problem and seek the help of a psychologist.”
She said, “Some exercises will also help, although, they may not give the same result as the artificial things, but they will help the person’s confidence. But if the problem is severe, the person can also go for surgery; it is allowed.”