Answer To Bullying? Children Getting Plastic SurgeryApril 18, 2011 6 Comments
Plastic surgery has been deemed a cultural epidemic. Although we’re now somewhat desensitized to the issue, seeing it covered in the media day after day, when it comes to adolescent girls wanting to go under the knife, we stop and think for a second about what possible reasons could justify such extreme action. Is the trauma of being bullied at school reason enough to allow a 7-year-old to have her ears pinned back?
This surgery, called ortoplasty, is the new (dare I say) trend among young women. It seems we’ve truly been thrown a curveball when plastic surgery is the cure instead of the disease. It’s a way to prevent teen bullying.
Statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery say that there has been a 30 percent increase in teen plastic surgeries over the past decade. While some may blame the media for sending out messages of what’s considered beautiful and even normal, it seems that it’s bullies who should be shouldering this burden of guilt for targeting vulnerable teens with their words.
It’s true, there’s always going to be a fair share of Nelsons in the world (ha ha!), but they need to be held accountable. Where nothing is being done to tackle the bully problem at its root, young women are taking what bullies have to say right to a plastic surgeon.
“Changing appearances is not the solution. We never want to hold the victim responsible for the bullying,” said Cheryl Rode, the director of clinical operations at the San Diego Center for Children.
Despite social workers and doctors wanting to help these teens with issues of self-esteem and depression, some parents are seeing plastic surgery as a real answer to the bully dilemma. It may be painful for the child, as names can really hurt at that young and impressionable age, but taking such an extreme measure isn’t a responsible solution. It’s like saying, “No worries, we can fix anything that they don’t like.” To accept has been replaced with to alter. We can’t fail to see that this leaves us with serious consequences for young women. And we can’t ignore the blood on our hands if we let it continue.
More than anything, plastic surgery is a band-aid on issues and anxiety that already exist. And teens will always take the band-aid instead of going through the longer (more painful) process of learning the importance of self love. Instead of learning to cope with bullying by slowly building their confidence (through academics, athletics or any hobbies that the teen might have), they dream of that day when they can just change their face. Where we should seek change from the inside out, young women are looking at change from the outside in. This kind of external perception can be detrimental to their self image as they age and come to the realization they’ll never be quite satisfied with their appearance.
Don’t get me wrong. There are two sides. I believe there is a positive side to plastic surgery (for burn victims, women who need reconstructive surgery after losing a breast to cancer, real facial deformities, etc.), but when it comes to healthy young girls, saying yes to surgery may foster a strong sense of discontent that will surface sooner or later. Sorry, Barbie, but life in plastic is not always so fantastic.
But it sure is good in the moment where you feel like you’re really taking action. Plastic surgery is change. Isn’t change supposed to be good? If this is true, then we are saying it’s okay for young girls to get breast implants and nose jobs. As we’ve seen on talk shows about people who become obsessed with plastic surgery, it becomes a real addiction. We’re arming teens with the perception, “If you don’t like it, change it.”
Although money and insurance pose a roadblock for some teens who want to get surgery, some organizations are providing families with the funds to have these surgeries done. Samantha Shaw’s family, for example, reached out to the Little Baby Face Foundation for the money to get her daughter an otoplasty even though this organization’s mandate is to operate on children, free of cost, who have facial deformities. That’s right, deformities. With the cost of uniqueness being too high (getting harassed at school), plastic surgery is now a small price to pay to fit in.
This begs the question of where do we draw the line between what is really essential (due to functional problems) and what is cosmetic (just a change in appearance). Are girls now going to say that they need breast implants because they get made fun of for having boyish bodies? We’re looking down a slippery slope here. One girl gets made fun of because she has a small chest, one has a large nose, the other, elf-like ears. There must be somewhere where we can draw the line and celebrate all bodies for what they are. But first we must examine the bully culture and get to the core of this serious issue plaguing schools worldwide.
Instead of changing faces, let’s look to change our attitudes and perceptions. Cliche or not, there has not been a more relevant time to take action and put beauty back in the eye of the beholder where it belongs.
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