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WSU students get coupons for breast augmentation

MOSCOW, Idaho – The deals on page 67 of the Student Survival Guide coupon book distributed at Washington State University this fall include 50-cents-per-hole golfing at the Airway Hills par-3 course east of Pullman and a 2-for-1 deal at Insanewich in Moscow.

Flip to page 69, however, and you’ll find a bra-and-panties-clad female torso and an offer for $1,000 off a breast augmentation at Moscow’s Linea Cosmetic Surgery.

The plastic surgery office, which has been open under Palouse Surgeons since March 2012, is advertising for the first time in the Survival Guides distributed at WSU and the University of Idaho. Though Dr. Geoffrey Stiller’s customers are most frequently in the 25-to-45 age range, Linea does have some patients who are college students, said Becky McLeod, practice manager for Palouse Surgeons.

The coupon book also included a deal for 50 percent off liposuction, which McLeod said costs an average of $2,500 a session, and 10 percent off laser hair removal.

As for the breast augmentation, it ranges from $6,000 per breast for saline implants to more than $7,200 per breast for silicone, which must be paid “all cash, up front,” McLeod said. Insurance does not generally cover cosmetic surgeries.

WSU psychology professor Laurie Smith-Nelson said, “I could think of an infinite list of things that would probably be better to spend $13,000 on.”

The coupons came to Smith-Nelson’s attention when her 21-year-old son, a WSU student, incredulously showed them to her.

“At first I thought, ‘I cannot believe this.’ I was surprised and not surprised at the same time,” Smith-Nelson said. “How does it become that surviving as a student means augmenting your breasts and getting liposuction?”

The longtime clinician, who’s entering her sixth year as a professor teaching human sexuality and psychology of women, did find another side to the ads, saying she could understand why women would change their bodies to make themselves feel better.

Christine S. Brown, the graduate aide at WSU’s Women’s Resource Center, said there could be legitimate medical reasons, including mastectomies, that lead someone to breast augmentation. The Linea advertisement doesn’t seem to portray that, however, instead focusing on vanity.

Women’s Resource Center Director Turea Erwin pointed to the image of the slim torso next to the ads and said it’s an example of how women process body image. “This, right here, is an example of how it’s not just your body, but it’s your mind,” she said.

Smith-Nelson, thumbing through a stack of Cosmopolitan magazines she keeps on hand for lectures, said research shows only 5 to 10 percent of women have the current “ideal body,” which can lead average people to eating disorders or body dissatisfaction.

“Look at this,” she said of the torso photo. “This woman has no head and no arms. Really, what it tells you about what’s important on a woman is from there to there,” Smith-Nelson said as she gestured to the torso’s breasts and genitals. “You can’t even see that woman’s face to see how she feels about it, because it’s not really important, is it?”