Each year, about 220,000 teens have elected to get plastic surgery. It's up for debate whether or not that number is on the rise or the decline, but the problem persists. With almost a quarter million teenagers going under the knife for nose jobs, breast augmentations, ear shaping, and liposuction every 12 months, our teens are turning to cosmetic procedures in droves.
So -- is it a problem? Could be. If these teens are choosing to solve their alleged self-image issues with surgeries aimed to make them look like the ostensible standard of beauty, then yes, there could be a problem here.
As parents, what can we do about it?
If your girl is just begging for a nose job (35,000 performed annually on kids between the ages of 13 and 19), or if your son is angling hard for a male breast reduction (13,500 done each year), before you say yes or no, here are some questions you could ask your child to see what's really the driving force behind their request, and if there isn't a solution other than plastic surgery.
- What do you think the benefits of the surgery will be, and what will be the downside? If your kid thinks removing the bump in her nose or having larger breasts will make life that much better, it's a sign that she might not have the mental balance or maturity to understand that this procedure won't solve all her problems. And if she doesn't think there are any risks, well, yikes. There are major risks, not to mention the fact that women who have breast augmentation surgery are four times as likely to commit suicide compared to other plastic surgery patients. Explore her answer together and see where it takes you.
- Why are your friends your friends? If their answers err on the superficial side (they dress well, they drive cool cars, they have big parties), it might be a sign that the urge to get plastic surgery is more of an outside influence rather than an inner one. Obviously, changing one's body to fit in is never a good idea.
- What's the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about before going to bed? Granted they tell you the truth, this could be a real eye opener. If your daughter's large breasts cause her back pain and it's constantly on her mind, or if your son's protruding ears make him dread the day of bullying ahead, you can use the information to better assess the situation. Would counseling help them? Is surgery really the answer? Etc.
- What are you most proud of and/or what do you love about yourself? Focusing on the positive is always important, but with teens who desire cosmetic surgery, it's even more so. If you make a concerted and concentrated effort to talk about what makes them great, their desire for change could lessen.
- Who do you think is your biggest enemy? Is it a tormentor at school? A tough teacher? That little voice inside their head? Figure out what they're up against and find a solution together. It's important to figure out where they're getting their negativity, and whether or not it's necessarily all about their looks.
What would you say to your teen if they said they wanted to get plastic surgery?
Photo via Lies thru a Lens/Flickr