In early April, 2011, an article called “When Is Cosmetic Surgery an Answer to Bullying?” was published on the ABC News Health website. The plastic surgery news wires have been abuzz ever since as people react to the provocative title.
If you’re like many parents, your first response to the question posed in the article’s title is a resounding, “Never!” And for several good reasons.
First, plastic surgery is rarely the answer to anything but dissatisfaction with a physical feature. Think your breasts are frustratingly small? Breast augmentation might allow you to feel more content with your figure. But don’t elect the procedure thinking you will have to fight off men if you’re currently a wallflower.
Think your child’s ears stick out too far? Otoplasty, the medical name for the surgery highlighted in the ABC article, can make ears lie flatter against the head. But will it help your son or daughter be popular or more confident? Or even stop the bullying? Maybe, maybe not. What if he or she gets harassed about having surgery?
One doctor quoted in the ABC article believes strongly that plastic surgery is not the solution. Cheryl Rode, of the San Diego Center for Children, commented that when it comes to bullying, “responsibility must lie with schools and other places where children are as well as with society." Indeed, bullying is increasingly recognized as a national problem. A January article in the online version of the Ladies’ Home Journal asserted that, “Harassment is more common – and more serious – than most parents realize."
There’s another point that makes sense to many parents: it’s not a good idea to give your child the message that they can turn to a cosmetic or superficial fix to address a difficult, complex issue. Naturally, parents want their kids to be able to stand up for themselves, face tough problems head on and refrain from choosing a quick, convenient remedy.
For every one of these sound arguments, there’s another point of view equally worth considering.