This story about teens opting for plastic surgery to avoid being ridiculed by bullies about their looks is quite unsettling. In the news coverage, Elisabeth Hasselbeck talks to a couple of teenage girls who, because they were bullied over their appearance -- one for her pronounced nose, the other for her small chest -- decided to get plastic surgery. And, in one case, the parent consented to the surgery.
Why don't we just give bullies a golden throne and key to our children's souls while we're at it? And why don't we just tell our completely beautiful and healthy children, yes, indeed, something is truly wrong with you.
Around 90,000 teens underwent cosmetic surgery in 2007 for one reason or another. The most common procedures were nose jobs, breast reductions, breast augmentations, ear tucks, and, possibly most unbelievable, Botox. This is mind boggling to me, and the idea that doctors let alone parents would co-sign for a radical, unnecessary surgery is sending the wrong message.
Don't get me wrong. These stories about teens suffering from being teased and, in turn, experiencing incredibly low self esteem and feeling ugly and unworthy are completely heartbreaking. The girl shown above -- who was as beautiful before the surgery as she is after -- actually tried to break her own nose one night by slamming her face into a wall. At that point, her mother felt the only way to give her daughter a chance to feel confident again was to allow her to have plastic surgery.
Here's the news story:
But let's really think about this ... How can we, as parents, believe that plastic surgery is a "solution" to bullying or a "solution" to our kids' feelings of inadequacy? Talk about giving bullies the upper hand and blaming the victim! This, in no way, attempts to deal with the emotional matters behind a bully's behavior, nor does it teach the teen who hates herself the important life lesson of resilience.
We are still so ill equipped in this country at dealing with teen problems on an emotional level -- take what happened in Arizona last weekend as an extreme example. We just don't know how to do it. We look for a quick fix solution. Sure, these girls are being allowed to "fix" their exteriors; however, how will they deal with the next "problem" that gets pointed out to them? How far can it go? How will they learn to stand up? To love themselves for who they are? To see that perfection and pleasing everyone is impossible? How will they ever be able to stop and realize that changing your appearance to please others will never help you truly feel good about yourself?
And, as for the bullies, left unaddressed, they'll just move on to their next victim, leave more anguish in their path, and never come to realize they do what they do because they, too, are hiding something they can't bear for others to see.
What do you think? Does allowing teens to get plastic surgery send the wrong message to our teenagers? And to bullies?
Image via ABCNews