Is MyFreeImplants.com a misogynist's online playground or the definition of modern feminism?
Jay Moore against a beautiful landscape.
MyFreeImplants.com may have been brought to your attention last week via tabloid coverage of Gemini Smith, a woman from the UK who successfully used the site to pay for her breast enhancement. In the off chance it wasn't, MFI.com calls itself the "social funding company that provides the only no cost alternative to expensive cosmetic surgery loans". Which is kind of what it does, but not necessarily what it is. Nothing comes for free - especially not breast implants.
The site is a mongrel of Kickstarter and Chaturbate; its aim is to match up women ("the girls") with men ("the donors") who will pay for their surgery. The women are invited to chat, send pictures and "go on cam" with the men in exchange for donations. Sometimes the men set challenges for money.
Anyone can join, provided you have an email address and a lot of time on your hands. I have both, so I signed up and the introductory email gave me some handy tips on how to get started, such as: "You will do much better on MyFreeImplants if you make friends. If you make enemies instead, it's going to be an uphill struggle for you."
When you log on as a girl, it looks like a live sex chat site. Each private message gives you just $1 (60p) towards surgery, which isn't a lot when you're trying to hit a £5,000 target. On the other hand, the donors and girls can negotiate prices for "custom videos and pictures". So it's obvious that while you don't have to delve into the explicit, reaching your monetary goal is a hell of a lot quicker if you do. The contest board has a list of competitions to enter, too, such as "sexiest legs on MFI", which awards a generous $10 (£6) to the winner.
Owen01 sets the general donor tone with his status: "Best UK pussy pics get the last of my special Xmas donations." However, not everyone is like Owen01. Some, like UK-based Flik, are simply looking for interaction. His bio specifically states that he does not want any pics. In fact, he says that "ladies that do send pics will not [get] any further [help]".
Depending on which way you come at it, the site is one of two things: a misogynist's online playground, or the pinnacle of modern feminism - women setting out to get something they want, and doing what they want to do to get it. What's not so cut and dry, however, is how to view the donors. What exactly are their motives? The internet is full of free porn, so why barter for pictures and videos of naked women when they could just type that into Google and get it all for nothing?
I called up CEO and co-founder of the site, Jay Moore, to find out.
MyFreeImplants.com founders Jason Grunstra (second from left) and Jay Moore (right) with two women who presumably have something to do with their website.
VICE: Hi Jay. So how did you come up with the Kickstarter for boobs?
Jay Moore: The idea came about in 2005 at a bachelor party in Las Vegas. That's when we actually came up with the idea and started a website, just for a friend to test this idea out. She was successful in fundraising $5,500 (£3,280) in about four months. And then we started the full social network.
How many breast implants have you helped pay for so far?
About 1,200. So that's 2,400 boobs.
Some might say that the site enables the commodification of women's bodies - that it's a misogynistic concept at its basic level.
I would disagree. That's totally dismissing free will. Women sign up. Women choose to have breast augmentation and to fundraise. They have the choice to do that to their body, just like they have the choice to have an abortion. So I think [that idea is] pretty hypocritical. Often the proponents of choice - like feminists - they turn around and become hypocritical.
It's mostly men who act as donors, right?
Definitely. It's 95 percent men. There's a very small group of women donors.
I joined the site and got the impression that a lot of the donors seem pretty lonely. Is that fair?
Yeah. I think some of them are genuinely lonely guys. Single guys.
So what do donors actually want? What do they get out of that transaction besides naked photos and being able to cam with the girls?
It's very different for each person. Some guys are signing up to help a friend, some guys are signing up to meet women. But the thing that keeps people on the site - we've had people who have been on there for several years - is that they've created real lasting friendships and have got something of value out of it; they're not just throwing their money away. It's exactly the same as being a guy out in the real world trying to meet women. They're getting conversation, the company and friendship out of it. It's the same as being out in a bar.
Jay Moore and a nun.
But it's not like being in a bar where both sexes are on a level playing field - it's a situation where women are seeking financing from men.
Well, yeah, obviously - they want breast implants. But you're looking at it from a very narrow-minded standpoint. You have to spend time in the community and not look at it from surface level. I understand why you and other people see the initial level of this being creepy guys paying for women's boobs, but it's a whole online community that has been around for eight years. It wouldn't survive if it was just weird. Guys can get photos of naked women on the internet for free.
Has anyone ended up in a relationship after meeting on the site?
I'm not sure. It's not like people are getting married on the site. It's not for us to put out personal information or any way for them to contact the girls. Most know it's a short-term relationship. But that doesn't explain why some people who have had their surgery are still on the site afterwards, encouraging their old donors to donate to specific women or updating a donor on their life.
Some of the girls I've met in forums have said they have self-esteem and body image issues. Do you think your site could be perpetuating these?
It's possible that women are doing this because of self-esteem issues. It's not my problem to solve or deal with their personal issues. My problem is to give them a solution to getting cosmetic surgery without going into massive debt. Again, I go back to the point that they have the choice to sign up to the site or not. I'm not going to shut the site down because some people have self-esteem issues. I mean, there is help out there for people with body issues - 12-step classes, therapy. We're providing a no debt option for women who can't afford surgery.
Finally, are you going to expand your business into crowd-funding for other types of cosmetic surgery?
Yeah, there is definitely the potential to do that. We're doing a trial right now for people who want those other types of surgery, which they can fundraise for.
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