Teen plastic surgery

Nickolay Lamm
| Feminism > UK Feminism

 

“Plastic surgeons are always making mountains out of molehills.” – Dolly Parton

School used to be a confusing place filled with spots and mockery. Now it’s a confusing place filled with spots, mockery, eating disorders and plastic surgery dreams. Paris Hilton, the media, parents and Dr. Michael Salzhauer – step into the dock!

I’m a firm believer that over the past five years generations of children in the UK have changed dramatically. School was still a confusing place to be most of the time; spots and homemade haircuts were still punishable by mockery and a dead arm, and the smelly kid still got bullied. Things like that don’t change. Forgive me for echoing your parent’s words with “in my day”, but when I was at school all that mattered was the right branded shoes, a limited knowledge of cheap alcoholic beverages and getting a snog on Friday night. You were only considered very cool if you had a connection to gain access to cider and fags.

I don’t remember there being immense pressure on me or my friends to be stick thin. However, this was when size zero wasn’t publicised as anything other than an eating disorder, and The Hills was just a dream. So it never crossed my mind as a teenager that I might ever want to go into modelling. After all, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pose on a car whilst being allowed to eat a Mars Bar.

We all know what happens with American trends directly influencing the other side of the pond. Paris ‘inheritance’ Hilton gets a designer bag for her dog and soon the hoardes are buying rat-sized pets to keep in their luggage. Personally, I think no amount of money makes Prada that smells like dog fart acceptable.

The media (both the evil and saintly sides of the coin) have bombarded us for the last few years with the beautiful dream of models and countless lifestyle makeover shows. Now (surprise!) they are starting to report high numbers of children and teens claiming to want plastic surgery. Those children will soon be adding nose jobs to their Christmas list. In America, it’s already documented that teens are asking for plastic surgery – and getting it, because their parents think it will make them happier or aid them in their future life the way, say, a college education will. Their parents, children themselves in many ways, fed by The Dream, are getting their priorities seriously screwed.

Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a surgeon from California, has written the first book about cosmetic surgery aimed at small children. The book is called My Beautiful Mommy (we’ve linked to it only because you might wish to buy a copy and deface it in an artwork) and it aims to help the little ones to understand what is going on when their mothers go under the knife and comes back resembling not their mummy but The Mummy.

The daughter asks if she will look any different, to which mum replies, “No, not different, my dear – prettier!”

Call me a cynic, but shouldn’t children’s books be about colourful elephants, trips to the beach or imaginary journeys? They should not be explaining why mother dearest needs bigger bubbies and fewer wrinkles. If anything, there should be books explaining why mother didn’t bother to fix her pre-motherhood perfect physique with diet and exercise, and thus be a good role model to her children, rather than squandering useful cash to go under the knife.

The subject of self-image will continue to be agonised over, and I can’t help but think that our society is allowing the plastic surgery monster to come out of the closet where he belongs. The gap between reality and media influence is becoming severely blurred. Children that Dr Salzhauer has irrevocably helped to scar with his little book of horrors will undoubtedly come back to visit his friends the therapists, once they’ve discovered their DD fun bags, botched stamen (that’s a euphemism) extensions and liposuctions don’t succeed in making them happy.

I was shopping the other day (for my Bridget-sized bottom) and wandered past two adverts for cosmetic surgery. Two! That’s two too many. There have been times when I’ve had tantrums in the changing room over either too much bottom or not enough bubby, and I think it’s fair to say we’ve all been there.

It’s simply not forgivable to bring in a new teeny-weeny Kate Moss range, sell sweets at the counter and then let children be confronted with a big poster offering them a wonderful new body when they leave the shop.

Maybe we should be looking for happiness in other places other than leather handbags, botched operations, 6 inch heels and St. Tropez tans.

And even if we know that already, maybe the media ought to be making damn greater efforts to ensure it’s re-affirmed.

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