When I was a teenager, the girls who were getting nose jobs were always written off as spoiled girls with parents who had more money than sense. Oh, I was certainly jealous of them, but it was easier to explain away their chance at perfection as a product of over-privilege. But a new warning to parents and the beauty of hindsight is wiping that envy right out of my mind.
About 40 percent of Americans who seek rhinoplasty (the official term for a nose job) exhibit at least some signs of body dysmorphic disorder, recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as "a severe psychiatric disorder." A third of the people who are trying to get a nose job suffer moderate symptoms of the disorder, and if the person admits to seeking rhinoplastay for cosmetic reasons, that number jumps to 43 percent. That's almost half.
Suddenly a girl griping about her nose isn't mere "vanity." It's serious. Like 1 percent of the population, she has body image issues. And she's not alone. It can happen in boys too (yes, boys get nose jobs) -- generally beginning in the adolescent/teen years, BDD affects men and women equally.
The problem is that normally parents write these things off. It's "normal" for a teen to suddenly be cognizant of their looks. It's hormonal. It's developmental. And it's tough to ascertain when your kids walk over the border from "normal teen obsession" to "excessive obsession." I have hated my nose since I was a teenager. I've also struggled with bulimia since I was in high school. Coincidence? I think not.
The nose is so important because it's OUT THERE people! You can hide your freaky toes with the webbing that goes a tad too high. Elf ears with a good haircut. Flabby tummy with a big sweatshirt. Cankles with long pants. Pretty much everything they're not so crazy about, the kids can keep from you ... and you'd be none the wiser.
But the nose, and this warning is a gift, Mom and Dad. Kids can't hide a nose they're uncomfortable with. And if they're suffering from BDD, there's a much greater chance that they'll speak up about it. Here's your chance to help your kid. BDD is treatable through therapy and/or anti-depressants ... no nose job necessary.
Have your kids asked for a nose job?
Image via KaiChanVong/Flickr