Never have I felt as inadequate as when I moved to HCMC almost three years ago. Every girl seems to have a ‘BA’ here. And no, I don’t mean a Bachelor of Arts. I mean breast augmentation, better known as a boob job.

Whether in Korea, Taiwan or Brazil, it is so common these days that I consider it a fashion statement. Almost a year ago, I mentioned to a girlfriend that I was seriously considering getting a BA in Bangkok. She said many qualified doctors can do this in HCMC and it’s cheaper here.

On her recommendation, I went to see a local cosmetic centre that claimed to employ a famous Thai surgeon who has performed many successful operations for ladyboys. The owner of the centre came and met me. I felt like I was being lectured by a 50s-something Barbie Doll. Then came a PowerPoint presentation of clients – girls who went from an A- or AA-cup to a C-cup. The owner must have sensed my hesitation and recommended that I consult a Vietnamese doctor, the assistant of the infamous Thai doctor.

After an embarrassing 15 minutes of having my boobs fondled, squeezed and photographed, he recommended a 120cc silicone injection. I was given model silicone implants in round and oval shapes, and a super tight white T-shirt so that I could wear each set to test the effects.

The round ones are inserted through a small incision around the nipples, and the oval ones are inserted through a small incision in the armpits. While the oval ones are considered more natural-looking, they are sometimes not as secure, because the insertion of silicone under the armpit is typically not as precise as insertion from the nipple.

In any case, the test result was hilarious. The round ones looked like two gigantic headlights. When I complained that they were too big, I was reassured that they’d look smaller after insertion, and that it would be better to make them bigger rather than smaller, as most girls who choose a smaller size tended to regret it. “Seriously?!” I said as I left the clinic, thinking that I would need to throw out my whole wardrobe to accommodate these boobs. This worried me.

Now, at every gala dinner with girls in their low-cut dresses and their BAs, I totally understand why they’re getting out of hand. I still feel a bit inadequate but I have also learned that, like everything else, BAs do not come with a lifetime guarantee. One needs to update after five years or so, and the maintenance can be costly. So, at this stage, I choose not to be fashionably large. Wonderbras it is.

Christina Yu is the creative director and founder of Ipa-Nima, an award-winning accessories brand. Email your questions to or visit