Vatican Condemns Plastic Surgery on Women: 'It's Like a Burqa Made of Flesh'

Couples dance in front of Saint Peter's basilica at the Vatican, December 17, 2014. Thousands of people sang "Happy Birthday" and danced a mass tango on Wednesday to celebrate the birthday of the first Latin American pope. Argentinian Pope Francis was born in the birthplace of the tango on Dec. 17, 1936. | (Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)

A new Vatican document has condemned elective plastic surgery on women, calling it "aggressive toward the feminine identity."

Vanity-motivated procedures such as breast implant surgeries and tummy tucks are "manipulations of the body that explore its limits with respect to the concept of identity," write the authors of the document titled "Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference."

According to the report, one woman told the authors that "plastic surgery is like a burqa made of flesh." A burqa is a traditional outer garment often worn by some Muslim women in public to conceal the body.

The newly released document warns against elective cosmetic surgery saying "plastic surgery that is not medico-therapeutic can be aggressive toward the feminine identity, showing a refusal of the body in as much as it is a refusal of the 'season' that is being lived out," the authors write.

The document was created by a female panel for the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture and it will serve as a discussion guide for an upcoming Feb. 4-7 plenary assembly on women's issues. The council is led by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.

The critical view on elective plastic surgery forms part of a broader analysis of challenges facing modern women in the Church as well as in society in general.

Plastic surgery can "'amputate' the expressive possibilities of the human face which are so connected to the empathic abilities," the document says. "If the body is the place of truth of the feminine self, in the indispensable mixture of culture and biology, it is also the place of the 'betrayal' of this truth."


Last month, a Brazilian model's claims that her near-fatal plastic surgery ordeal was a "punishment" from God raised biblical questions about whether or not having plastic surgery is a sin.

Andressa Urach, widely known as "Miss BumBum" for having been a finalist in a 2012 competition of a similar name, was recently left fighting for her life when routine thigh injections went horribly wrong. The 27-year-old self described plastic surgery "addict" underwent the procedure at the Conceaicao Hospital in Porto Alegre last year in a bid to expand her thighs, however, she was hospitalized in December and almost lost her life after the chemical fillers began to rot her flesh, sending her body into septic shock.

Andressa Urach is a Brazilian model who almost lost her life after botched cosmetic surgery in December 2014. | (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube/TF Video)

As doctors fought to save her life, Urach, who works as a TV host in Brazil, says that she crossed over to the otherside and met God. Her near-death experience led her to the realization that she had been living a life of sin all in the name of "vanity" and she has since vowed to dedicate her life to warning others of the dangers of cosmetic surgery.

"I knew that I'd left my body and died. I arrived in an empty place, like a desert, completely silent. That's when I knew that God exists. I felt his presence. I knew I was at the judgment," Urach told the Daily Mail. "My life flashed before me like a film. I felt ashamed and knew I wasn't worthy to enter heaven. I asked for forgiveness and begged for another chance, promised to make amends."

Statistics show that the reality TV personality, who is confined to a wheelchair, is not alone in her obsession with external beauty.

According to the American society of plastic surgeons, Brazil performed the most surgical procedures around the world in 2013 with a total of 1,491,721 – making it the leading nation when it comes to plastic surgery procedures performed around the world. The U.S. trails behind with the second-highest number of surgical procedures with 1,452,356, however, it has the No. 1 spot when it comes to non-surgical procedures such as Botox, fillers, etc.

As beauty standards continue to evolve around the world (in the west, Hollywood stars such as reality TV personality Kim Kardashian have embraced the "bigger is better" mentality), cosmetic surgery enthusiasts are becoming less rare, but Urach hopes that her ordeal can change this.

"I'd give everything to turn back time and do things differently … I'm ashamed of the holes in my legs, the scars that will be there for the rest of my life. But they are also a trophy that I got through this alive. …All this I'm going through is punishment for my stupid vanity," she said. "Now, thanks to God, I'm able to tell other women that vanity isn't everything. If all this serves as an example to warn others of the dangers of these things, to save other women from a premature death, then that was the reason I had to go through it."

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