02 August 2012 by

Is plastic surgery ever the answer to schoolyard bullying or should children be taught self-acceptance?

TEENAGE SURGERY

Everyone has a bugbear about their physical appearance. Scarlett Johansson hates her ‘short legs’, Kristen Stewart thinks she’s got big ears and Victoria Beckham can’t stand her feet. I spent most of my teenage years praying for my breasts to grow and naively swearing that surgery would be the only option if I didn’t reach a C cup before I turned 18.

But the difference between a personal hang-up that parents and friends shrug off as ridiculous and what is perceived as an abnormality which a child is mercilessly bullied for by their peers is extreme. I was critical of myself for my flat chest, but no one at school (not even those mean pubescent boys) even noticed.

In America 14-year-old Nadia Ilse has been the victim of cruel taunts and teasing at school due to her protruding ears. She found what for her was a solution when Little Baby Face Foundation offered to pay for ear correction surgery. The non-profit organisation claims to help children born with ‘facial deformities’ and while I would never describe large ears as a deformity, otoplasty is a relatively minor surgery and, in some cases in the UK, is even available on the NHS. If a little pinning is all it takes to save a child psychological distress, then great.

The troubling twist in this tale is that the doctor performing the surgery recommended that Nadia, who lets remember, is only 14 and has not yet reached physical or emotional maturity, have additional procedures to straighten out her septum and soften what he considered her ‘pointy chin’.

Following her surgery Nadia, who will also receive counselling to combat years of bullying, told CNN that now she isn’t so consumed by her ears she can ‘finally see how beautiful my eyes are’. Surely this is the message that children should be taught right from the early stages: focus on your positive attributes, whether that’s beautiful eyes, a natural gift for academia or the ability to make people laugh. My breasts never grew, I never had surgery and as an adult woman who can save a lot of money on bras I’ve learnt that that’s not such a bad thing! Sure we all have insecurities, but if we teach children that all problems can be solved with extreme measures like surgery how will they learn to tackle life’s emotional and social difficulties?

After all, in Nadia’s case she wasn’t the problem, the bullies were. That should have been what was confronted first, with the full support of her parents and the school.

What do you think? Is it ever ok for a child to have plastic surgery? Would you let your child have a procedure if it meant that they avoided teasing from their peers? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us @Grazia_live.


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