02/19/2013 02:54 pm ET Updated Apr 21, 2013

Fake Boobs and Body Image

I love Boise. I really do. I've lived in dozen of cities, eight different states across this grand nation. And Boise has always been, hands down, my favorite place to live. But for the first time ever, I have to admit that I am ashamed to live in Boise. Why? Because for Mardi Gras, several of the bars in downtown Boise got together to give away the "ultimate" door prize: fake boobs.

I know Mardi Gras was never supposed to be about improving your body image -- some of the revelers probably couldn't even remember what they looked like when the night was through. And Boise is certainly no New Orleans. But to use plastic surgery as an enticement to get people to the bars on Mardi Gras? Seriously?

"We're just trying to put some fun back into Mardi Gras," bar owner Ted Challenger explained.
And nothing says fun like fake boobs!

Touting its customer appreciation night, the poster advertising the event displayed a topless woman with the bars' names strategically placed to make the ad "family friendly" enough for Facebook, with the "we're giving away a boob job as a door prize" gold badge hovering tantalizingly over the women's breasts. A woman who, by the way, was decidedly not in need of a boob job.

I don't know what upset me more about this little scheme -- the implication that small-breasted women need, and should desire, larger breasts, or the implication that having larger breasts make a woman more "fun." Either way, there is just something wrong with the whole gig.

And the research backs me up on this one. In 1997, just over 101,000 women had breast augmentation done, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; in 2011 that number was over 318,000 -- an increase of over 214 percent! Breast augmentation is the number one cosmetic procedure done in the United States, and rates continue to rise each year. What concerns me most is that over 4,000 of these procedures were done on minors, with teens most commonly citing "cosmetic reasons" for getting their breasts augmented. Boob jobs are becoming an increasingly requested high school graduation gift. And some parents appear to be more than happy to pay the bill. Why are our girls even having breast augmentation at this age? They aren't even done growing yet! Is anyone else concerned about this trend?

Which bring me back to the boob job door prize. An increasing number of researchers are highlighting the problem with the rise in cosmetic surgery: This is a self-esteem problem, not a body problem. And getting a boob job may not help. This may explain why more and more female celebrities are getting their boob jobs reversed. And why researchers are warning against addiction to cosmetic surgery. Given a recent study of Canadian women found the suicide rate among women with breast implants is 73 percent higher than in the general population, some psychologists are beginning to advocate for mandatory counseling for self-esteem issues before undergoing plastic surgery.

So here's the bottom line: If we are not happy with how we look, what makes us think that getting a body part enhanced is really going to change things long term? Even Ted Challenger realizes this. A stipulation of the boob job door prize? The door-prize winner has to choose the plastic surgeon. "That way, I'm not held liable if they get a bad boob job," Challenger said.

Given the average boob job costs between $3,000 and $4,000, couldn't we find better ways to spend that money? Maybe spend it on something that will actually improve our well-being long term? Like being able to afford to take a vacation or even a day off once in a while. Or be able to afford healthy, nutritious food. Or buy fresh flowers every day for a whole year. Or better yet donate that money to a good cause like breast cancer research. That's something that will make us feel good about ourselves without undergoing the knife.

Want more on body image? Check out my new website.