Posted by: Tammy Cravit | January 13, 2011

Teens Seeking Plastic Surgery to Combat Bullying

ABC News is reporting on a growing trend, and one which I find rather disturbing: Teens are, in increasing numbers, seeking cosmetic surgery and other medical procedures to combat bullying. The report from Good Morning America says:

Erica is among a small but growing number of teenagers who say being teased or bullied prompted them to consider or even undergo cosmetic surgery. Nearly 90,000 teenagers had cosmetic surgery in 2007, and doctors say the numbers are growing.

“I do see a fair amount of parents coming in with their child because of bullying and teasing and feelings of self-consciousness,” Dr. Michael Fiorillo, a cosmetic surgeon, said. “My preference is, of course, to work out the issues first, the bullying, the teasing. But there are certain situations where people are mature enough. And surgery is a final resort.”

Popular cosmetic surgeries for teenagers include nose jobs, breast reductions, breast augmentations, ear tucks and Botox injections.

In one case mentioned in the article, a 5-year-old child began receiving Botox injections to counteract a “droopy grin” which was the source of teasing.

Maybe it’s just me, but this strikes me as entirely the wrong way to counteract bullying. When we give our children cosmetic surgery to correct perceived “defects” that form the basis of teasing, aren’t we really validating that the things our kids are being teased for really are problems?

I’m not the only one concerned. Child psychiatrist Dr. Ned Halliwell was quoted in the article saying:

“The idea of someone getting plastic surgery to avoid bullying seems to me as crazy and worrisome as if a black person were to go to a doctor and say, ‘I wanna become white to avoid racism. The problem is clearly with the phenomenon of bullying, and not with the person’s nose.”

What do you think? Is plastic surgery the right way to stop bullying for our kids? Or is it a misguided way to treat (and legitimize) the symptom while avoiding the more fundamental problem?


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