Image is the rage

Whether it's for fashion, fun or convenience, plastic people are growing in number in South Africa. Many women have fake boobs, fake hair, plastic nails, fake eyelashes, fake eyebrows and God knows what else.

Whether it's for fashion, fun or convenience, plastic people are growing in number in South Africa. Many women have fake boobs, fake hair, plastic nails, fake eyelashes, fake eyebrows and God knows what else.

Isabella Macanda, a psychologist based in Cape Town, says these cosmetics can enhance body satisfaction.

"Body image dissatisfaction is often associated with decreased self-esteem, self-confidence and psychological wellbeing. These emotional and psychological issues cause some women to turn to 'plastics'," she says.

She adds that "plastic women" are a creation of the media and men.

Macanda says many men cannot accept their women in their natural state and want them to look like women in top-shelf magazines.

Afro-pop singer Speedy says he likes "plastic women" because cosmetics enhance their beauty.

"I don't call them fake. I see them as enhancing beauty. Beautiful women decorate a man. There is nothing that turns me off like a plain woman. Women must take care of themselves, but they should not overdo it because that is equally a turn off.

"I do not have a problem with a manicure. It looks beautiful and I like those wigs. They add sex appeal to women. And I cannot stop a woman from making herself beautiful if she is happy and comfortable with it."

Prosper Mkwaiwa, a music promoter, also likes "plastic women". He says it shows that they make an effort to look good.

"Women are generally very fake, but they differ in degrees. There is nothing we can do about it. Besides, when they look good in all their fake, they make good accessories. If women were as plain as the time of Shaka Zulu, men would never look at them," he says.

Mkwaiwa says the only thing that puts him off is when women take off the plastic.

"Watching her take off the wig, nails and eyelashes is very uncomfortable. So it is better when it is done in a man's absence," says Mkwaiwa.

But not all men are attracted to cosmetic women.

Walter Mokoena thinks that most of the time what is outside often mirrors what is inside.

"Those fake things are not attractive. They might be amazing, but they are not attractive, not for me at least. It is all well and good to parade with a plastic woman at a party and in public, but when you get home you have to deal with the real person.

"You may have a fake Beyoncé at your side, but after a while the fake will show when you are alone with her," he says.

Mokoena says he is fortunate because he does not attract "the fake crowd".

"The fake crowd does not appeal to me and I do not appeal to them. I'm not saying it is wrong to have a plastic woman. You can keep your fake and deal with it. Women should take care of what they have so that they do not have to go and buy what is supposed to be natural."

Patrick Sota also believes people must be natural.

The advocate and and chief executive of Monster Records says: "All these fake things show that people are not confident in themselves and do not appreciate their beauty. They want to look like somebody else. To me that does not reflect a true African.

"But because of the freedom that we have in this country, people do whatever they like with their bodies," says Sota.

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