This is a message to all women and men out there who appreciate beauty, confidence, friendship, happiness and … large breasts. Uhm, what I mean is grace, spirit, joy and … curvy appearances. No, sorry, let’s try again: I’m referring to elegance, communities, wellbeing and … a generous bust. OK, OK, I know you’re impatient so I’ll tell you what the message I’m trying to send is:
– if you’re a woman and you feel that nature has been unfair with you by giving you ‘small’ assets, you are ambitious and hard working (but yet still broke) and you want to make friends; or
– if you’re a man and you love delicacy, allure and style, you have some dimes to spare and you maybe feel a bit lonely and want to network
then you have to visit the ultimate social networking/crowdfunding website MyFreeImplants.com! Sounds fancy, right?
Well, on a more serious note, MyFreeImplants.com is a platform designed to facilitate the relationship between ‘ladies’ – women that want to have breast augmentation surgery, ‘contributors’ – people (mostly men) that donate money to help the ladies realize their dream and ‘surgeons’ – plastic surgery surgeons that take on the challenge to help the ladies. The site works in mysterious ways but mostly like this: women set up a small profile with their name, birthday and several pictures and choose their goal (i.e. their budget and surgeon). As soon as this happens, they can start chatting with the contributors, write blogs to “increase their exposure and let their personality shine” and “create lasting friendships while earning free breast implants” . Contributors can browse through the ladies and chat with them, receive private photos and videos from them and follow their journey to improved self esteem. Money is raised (i.e. 1$) for every private message a contributor sends to a lady. What is more, contributors set up contests or challenges where they decide to donate more money, for instance 50$ for the most delicious-looking picture of a hamburger (no kidding, it’s actually just about real hamburgers). All the funds are collected in an escrow account until the goal is reached (which is on average 5,500$) and then sent directly to the assigned surgeon.
MyFreeImplants.com combines quite interestingly the crowdfunding functionality, which is basically the core of the platform, with a social networking structure that substitutes the funders’ reward system. Thus, contributors are rewarded for their donations on a continuous basis and they also receive before-and-after pictures/videos of the ladies they supported in case their campaigns were successful. The interaction between the two parties is quite similar to that between the creator and funder of a startup on Kickstarter, where the relationship and communication between the two is crucial for the funder’s satisfaction. The motivations behind the ladies’ choice to take part in the process are mostly psychological and the need for money. However, the fact that they have to disclose very personal information (as they are often required by contributors to send swimwear pictures) and that they have to spend considerable amounts of time and effort to talk to many people and make themselves noticed (to increase their chances of receiving larger donations) are potential threats that keep women outside MyFreeImplants.com. On the other side, contributors do it for the sense of community, for receiving access to exclusive information and for support. Jay Moore, one of the founders of the website, argues that “donors are attracted to the idea of an online friendship, rather than provocative content […] donors are looking to actually make a connection on a different level” . Lastly, surgeons also participate for the exclusivity, as the ladies on the website are a potential market they would otherwise miss.
To protect itself from liabilities and eliminate fraud, the website has devised several rules such as: ladies and contributors are allowed to do whatever they want during their online conversations (the website is not responsible for how they act) but they are not allowed to meet in person; or the fact that the platform holds the money and sends them directly to the surgeon so that the women cannot use the funds for anything else. Nonetheless, even with these rules in place and with the positive innocent image it tries to create, MyFreeImplants.com is quite infamous for the experiences of women who have been repeatedly asked by contributors to send sexually-explicit pictures or videos [e.g. 3, 4]. Even considering this, MyFreeImplants.com is a very popular website, with around 3,500 active users (3,500 women and 10,000 men) and with around 1,100 new pairs of breasts reaching their destination until now . The website keeps itself quite private since detailed information can only be viewed after signing up, so one could assume, without seeing the inside of the platform, that the intrinsic motivations of participants (especially the contributors) are perhaps not all about making long lasting meaningful friendships…
- MyFreeImplants.com. http://myfreeimplants.com
- Bigrigg, C. (2014, Feb 4). How far would you go for free breast implants? Metro News.
- Morgan Joyce. (2013, Nov 13). My myfreeimplants.com experience. Youtube.
-  Stern, M.J. (2013, Sept 2). The creepiest crowdfunding ever. Slate.