Quest for curvy body sends women into rogue traders’ traps

big but

An endowed woman. The quest to have sizeable and rounder hindquarters has caused desperation among some women who are falling prey to unscrupulous sellers. 

Photo credit: Pool

Of all the body parts considered to be the hallmark of women’s physical beauty, the derriere is, perhaps, the most obsessed upon, and now this fixation is being fuelled by the widespread usage of social media.

The heighted craze for bodily attractiveness means that women are willing to risk it all to enhance the appearance of certain parts of their body, as well as their skin complexion.

The risk, many times, is on their health.

So serious is the effort to alter their looks that it has created a whole industry ostensibly to satisfy the need to grow posteriors and help those who can’t work out their body muscle or afford cosmetic surgery to attain the full figure “overnight”. Enter the online marketing platforms.

Opportunistic traders online and in physical shops around Nairobi are reaping from the unrealistic demand by hawking sham products in the name of body-shapers.

The Saturday Nation has established that one of the fast-moving products in the market at the moment is an appetiser, sold at about 1,000 per cent above its normal price while being hyped that it has the properties to restructure even the leanest of backsides and torsos to a voluptuous figure.

Three of these drugs, marketed on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and some e-commerce websites as hips and buttock-enhancers, are actually supplements that should only be dispensed in pharmacies as prescribed medication. One is used as an antihistamine to alleviate allergy symptoms.

Dr George Matimbai, who chairs the Western branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, says the products contain cyproheptadine as the main ingredient.

“The main use of cyproheptadine is to stimulate appetite and, as such, the products are given in cases where there’s suppressed desire to eat,” said Dr Mutimbai, who is also a superintendent pharmacist at Kakamega-based Bukura Pharmacy.

Carbohydrates and fats

He says that the tablets can lead to general weight gain if used for a long duration due to improved eating especially of carbohydrates and fats.

“Note that weight gain will be generalised and not limited to some body parts. These products are therefore not intended for extending the hinds (backside and hips),” he said.

Even with all indications of being a sham, the drugs still flies off the shelves. Pronounced hips and fuller breasts are considered symbols of beauty, as well as signs of fertility.

Ciso Beauty and Cosmetics, under the hashtag #thickthighssaveslives, sells one of the drugs on an e-commerce website.

“(Name withheld) tablets are the most effective, powerful...enhancement supplements that have helped hundreds of thousands of women achieve bigger, fuller, rounder buttocks naturally and effectively.

“Its blend of ingredients has been proven to signal your body to store more fat on the buttocks, hips and thighs, resulting in a stunning hourglass figure. Results can be seen within 2-3 weeks. Find out for yourself, try and join the satisfied customers worldwide who have already made the switch and are raving about the incredible results,” it urges.

Beauty Bonanza Cosmetics, another online shop, dispenses another of the drugs. This is the description they give: “It helps increase the size... up to 40 per cent in healthy fat storage and muscle growth. Our 100 per cent all-natural supplements are very safe with no known side effects or risks. Results may be seen in as little as two weeks. All products are backed with a 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee and give permanent results.”

One tablet is taken twice a day, according to their prescription.

Bonanza Beauty also sells yet another brand of drugs purportedly for bigger hips and backsides.

Ricky Kenya, also on an e-commerce platform, claims the supplements are supposedly formulated for women: “Achieve that curvaceous shape with...pills for naturally thick hips and curves. Also helps treat anorexia as it increases rapid weight gain and enhances that big booty slim-thick gains. Best beauty products prices.”

The unconventional beauty trends have become increasingly popular with young women and a growing source of worry for medical experts.

The quest to attain a desirable body has been a constant across generations, but these are new heights.

Why the regulated drugs are being hawked online and dispensed by non-medics is, however, a mystery to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

“Let me instruct my officers to follow. We will share our findings with you,” PPB Chief Executive Officer Fred Siyoi said in response to our queries.

Nairobi’s River Road, synonymous with crime and fake products, also thrives in unregulated clinics that offer backstreet injections, gels, creams and pills for body-shaping, as well as skin bleaching.

Unregulated clinical services

We returned to Mombasa Rest House, the hotspot for the unregulated clinical services where we had earlier investigated sale of injectable hip enhancers before. Around the area, illicit beauticians scrambling for customers, mostly their fellow women, is a common sight. They whisper “mafuta! mafuta!” to attract potential clients.

Undercover, we approached two of them and sought help to find the best option to enhance hips. Excitedly, both started explaining something at the same time, before agreeing to let the one with “better English” proceed.

She recommended one of the brands that we had found being hawked online as the most preferred pill. Our research showed that it is also popular with online shoppers.

“Do you want hips too, or just the backside?” the lady asked us.

“Both,” we responded.

“In that case, you can swallow one and insert another into your anus,” she explained, noting that it would work best if we ingested one brand and used another as a suppository.

Pharmacists, however, later told us they have never heard of the drug being administered through the anus.

“What are the side effects?” we asked the woman.

“Sleepiness,” she said. “Use the drug at bedtime.”

And to crown it all, they gave us a number to call if the body reacts or if we are dissatisfied.

Another indicator that something is amiss with the marketing of the product is the staggering difference in pricing. A tablet for one of the brands is sold for between Sh20 and Sh100.

“Ignorance is very costly. A tablet shouldn’t cost more than Sh10 in the pharmacy,” said Dr Matimbai. “Why won’t Kenyans choose to buy their medicines from registered pharmacies and run by qualified pharmacists instead of going to back streets like River Road?”

Keyboard warriors

Also fuelling the clandestine business is a gimmick where “keyboard warriors” are positioned to post positive reviews of the products online while singing praises of their transformation without posting proof.

Comments like “I got my order, thanks” and “this is the best product ever” appear, sometimes by the same name, on various platforms.

Interestingly, among those praising the product are men, despite the notion that the product is designed for women.

Despite such giveaways, there’s always a buzz around the products. We found an influencer who had posted a paid advertisement on Facebook for one of the products that attracted about 100 comments from women asking for the price and details of the products. Others asked for her mobile number.

According to Mrs Florence Rotich, a Kenyan working as a nurse in the United States, there are no known supplements that can enhance one’s body in the manner marketed.

Only exercises and surgeries by a doctor can bring the much-desired curves, she adds.

 “These are marketing gimmicks. They don’t work,” she says. “There are no medications of any kind that are proven to work except surgical interventions.”

 For instance, fat and cells can be removed from the belly and injected in the butt in what is called fat-grafting,” she explains.

“Minimal enhancements can also be attained through exercise. Once the belly gets flatter, the butt naturally appears bigger and leaner.”


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