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TOPIC: WTF
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CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela's chronic shortages have begun to encroach on a cultural cornerstone: the boob job.

Beauty-obsessed Venezuelans face a scarcity of brand-name breast implants, and women are so desperate that they and their doctors are turning to devices that are the wrong size or made in China, with less rigorous quality standards.

Venezuelans once had easy access to implants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But doctors say they are now all-but impossible to find because restrictive currency controls have deprived local businesses of the cash to import foreign goods. It may not be the gravest shortfall facing the socialist South American country, but surgeons say the issue cuts to the psyche of the image-conscious Venezuelan woman.

"The women are complaining," said Ramon Zapata, president of the Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Venezuelan women are very concerned with their self-esteem."

Venezuela is thought to have one of the world's highest plastic surgery rates, and the breast implant is the seminal procedure. Doctors performed 85,000 implants here last year, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Only the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Germany -- all with significantly larger populations -- saw more procedures.

There are no official statistics on how many Venezuelans are walking around with enhanced busts. But a stroll down any Caracas street reveals that the augmentations are at least more conspicuous here than in other surgery-loving places. Even the mannequins look they've gone under the knife. Until recently, women could enter raffles for implants held by pharmacies, workplaces and even politicians on the campaign trail. During this spring's anti-government street demonstrations, the occasional sign protesting the rising price of breast implants mixed in with posters railing against food shortages and currency devaluation.

"It's a culture of 'I want to be more beautiful than you.' That's why even people who live in the slums get implants," surgeon Daniel Slobodianik said, fiddling with an FDA-approved pouch of saline solution no longer on sale here.

Slobodianik used to perform several breast implants each week, but now performs closer to two a month. He says women call his office every day asking if he the implant size they're looking for. When they can't find it, they choose a second-best option, almost always a size up. No one is giving the frustrated women much sympathy, especially not the government. The consumerism of plastic surgery has always jibed awkwardly with the rhetoric of socialist revolution. The late President Hugo Chavez called the country's plastic surgery fixation "monstrous," and railed against the practice of giving implants to girls on their 15th birthdays.

On social media, some Venezuelans take a judgmental tone, saying the panic over implants shows the real shortage here is values. Others joke that the scarcity will force Venezuelan women to start developing their personalities, using a Twitter hashtag that riffs on the Colombian telenovela "Sin Tetas, No Hay Paraiso" ("Without Boobs, There's No Paradise").

Chesapeake VA
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Gloria apparently was quite the *party* gal. I watc h ed Cooper on the David Letterman show. She got around.

Rumson NJ
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I'm sure you're not. I found out only a couple of years ago when I went to the Biltmore.

Chesapeake VA
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WTF = am I the only person on the face of the earth that had NO IDEA that Anderson Cooper was part of the Vanderbilt family ? WOW

Wilmington NC
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fjep, funny on red bull.

VA: hope they don't change their minds about which resort to check out. :0)

Manville NJ
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LOL that makes you part of the vermin, he just doesn't know it. That is funny, I couldn't never imagine my parents going to a nudist er naturalist resort. Come to think of it I just wouldn't want to know

Lexington KY
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We just had lunch in Ybor City with my Dad and his wife.

We just found out that they are staying in a nudist resort. We are ecstatic it's not the same one we are going to next weekend....although they did tell us why...ours is apparently infested with swingers!

Chesapeake VA
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Funniest lawsuit I have seen yet.

Red Bull was sued because consumers did not grow wings.They are paying out a settlement of 10 dollars or 15 dollars in merchandise upon filing claim. No proof of purchase required to submit claim. energydrinksettlement. com/index

Sanford NC
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DD can I rest my head on those beautys

Rockport MA
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3 kids this year have names that start with "Shat." If you do that to your child, Never ask why they don't come to see you in your old age.

Irving TX
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