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Plastic surgery for kids: when is it too much?

Where are parents supposed to draw the line when it comes to cosmetic procedures for their children?
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Scaachi Koul, May 9, 2013 11:23:21 AM

At 10, I was some 30 pounds overweight. My nose had grown far faster than my face, my front teeth were longer than the rest, and my left ear jutted out more than the right.

10 and awkward is a tough time for a young girl.

But years later, my face has caught up with my then-oversized nose and teeth. I grew into my weight. I’ve largely forgotten that my ears don’t match.

For most of us, getting over our physical flaws is just another part of growing up, but for an increasing number of children and teenagers, there’s an easier (and more costly) route.

Parents and kids are using plastic surgery more and more as a way to deal with physical imperfections. And fair enough—you’d get your kid braces if he had gaps in his teeth, and should your daughter grow up with a distracting birthmark on her face, you’d maybe consider removing it so that she didn’t have to deal with schoolyard bullies.

According to a recent article in Macleans, thousands of kids in the U.S. are getting work done, from Botox to nose jobs, and no wonder—what an easy way to get your parents to take care of something that, at 14, makes you uncomfortable with yourself.

We make allowances for cleft palates and jagged teeth. But at some point, a line needs to be drawn when it comes to getting nose jobs and pinning your ears.

The worst part about it, perhaps, is that your body changes so much when you’re a child or a teenager. Your breasts, your nose, your body shape: they all change so dramatically in those formative years. You’re unlikely to look the same at 25 as you did at 15.

There is something to be said about having a little patience, slogging through high school, and learning to accept and appreciate yourself. That’s something that a little Restylane won’t serve.

And yet, I understand it. Had my parents offered me a nip and tuck when I was starting high school, something that would obviously have made me more popular with boys (and oh, what else do teenage girls think about?) and would have made me feel pretty and acceptable, I’d have taken the opportunity without thinking. Parents probably want their kids to have an easy life, maybe easier than they had it, so of course they want to offer them the best that medical science has to offer.

Still, there’s a big difference between buying your daughter prescription glasses, and buying her a new cup size. If the purpose is to protect your children from the hardships of life, that’s a fool’s errand. Bullies, for one, will find something “wrong” with kids they deem targets, whether they’re real or imaginary. It’s not relevant whether your child has a big nose or not: all that’s relevant is whether someone else is going to perceive it and use it.

The rest of us—most of us—grew up without plastic surgery. For those who decided they wanted it, they waited until they turned 18, until they could afford it themselves, and until their bodies had settled in their ways.

That should be good enough for our kids, too.

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Scaachi Koul


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