GLADSTONE is at the forefront of a growing trend among young women perfecting their appearances, with girls as young as 17 getting breast enhancements.
Is it a correlation with the high wages available in Gladstone or just the culture of self-image among youth?
Joanne (not her real name), 22, works in the fitness industry and had breast implants at the age of 19.
She believes the decision among her peers is not affected by money.
"The people that I have seen and spoken to, one girl just worked at Supre, another just in retail again," she said.
"I just think it's the age group. Everybody is just doing it. Definitely seeing it in the 18-25 age bracket."
And Gladstone girls aren't alone, with new research showing the number of young Australian women heading overseas to have cosmetic surgery is increasing.
The figures show that each year, about 15,000 Australians are going under the knife offshore.
The study has found a large proportion of those are women in their twenties, taking part in group tours for breast surgery.
Many are saving up money or borrowing through personal loans to pay for the operation.
"My good friend, she's just popping it on her credit card," Joanne said.
I don't think it's necessarily as linked to fitness. I think everyone is just wanting to feel better about themselves
"I know it's very common to go to Thailand. A lot of my friends did and they all had really good procedures."
Healthy living is a strong focus in the Australian media, but Joanne doesn't think getting these procedures is totally linked to fitness fanatics.
"I don't think it's necessarily as linked to fitness. I think everyone is just wanting to feel better about themselves," she said.
"They want their whole body to look good and then they keep it up through health and fitness."
Dr Meredith Jones, an academic expert in cosmetic medicine and senior lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, said Generation Y women and those born later had probably been influenced by "makeover culture", an environment that has seen us grow up with countless ways to renovate and reinvent our lives.
"You know that phrase 'digital natives'? We can also talk about cosmetic surgery natives," Dr Jones said.
"They've grown up with Extreme Makeover like they've grown up with the Harry Potter books. And it doesn't seem very dramatic to them."
Joanne had a concave chest growing up, meaning her natural breast size was non-existent.
She was focused on getting a natural look, choosing cohesive gel implants that were fitted under the muscle.
While very happy with her new C-cup size, it has affected her upper body exercises.
"I used to have really good upper body strength. It's kind of dwindled back a bit," she said.
"It's a little bit disappointing but I would never have gone over the muscle, which wouldn't have affected it as much but it wouldn't have looked natural."
Joanne said while some of her friends felt they went too big, she didn't regret her implants at all.
"I would do it a million times over," she said. "(You just) feel more feminine and womanly."
About breast implants:
- No intense chest workouts allowed after the procedure.
- Healing time depends on the person. Joanne took eight weeks to recover.
- Joanne's procedure cost $11,500. It can be as cheap as $4000 in Thailand, but averages $10,000 in Australia.
- Gladstone women are going to Bundaberg, the Gold Coast or overseas.
- Implants behind the breast don't affect breastfeeding.
- Women cite a rounder breast shape as one preference for the operation.
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