Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'll Do Anything To Get Them - Teenage Girls and Plastic Surgery

We live in an image-obsessed, celebrity-driven culture.The enormous popularity of reality TV shows such as "Extreme Makeover," "The Swan" and MTV's "I Want a Famous Face," as well as an explosion of Web sites that extol the virtues of cosmetic medicine, has fueled the desire of adolescent girls to alter their bodies permanently, and they are finding more surgeons willing to oblige.

The rising number of teenage girls who are given the gift of knowing that their bodies aren't good enough, I’m referring to plastic surgery is disturbing. It’s really as if we are validating to our kids that something is wrong with their bodies and it’s natural to be unhappy about it. It’s as if getting bigger breasts or whatever procedure they undergo is going to make them more confident and get rid of their “hang-ups.” Some girls actually believe that they need big breasts to be successful in life and will name celebs like Pamela Anderson as proof to their claims. !?!? Who is feeding this to our girls?

These children certainly have body image issues but I believe the parents have even more issues to deal with! What parent in their right thinking mind would allow their fifteen year old daughter to have breast implants?!?! She is still developing and so what if she does not have big breasts? Are the size of her breasts the be all and end all of who and what she is and will become?

What I find so very disturbing is that parents are now giving their teens plastic surgery as sweet sixteen gifts, graduation gifts and as incentives to get good grades! Gone are the days of wanting to do well at school to move on in life, now doing good in school is seen as a means to get their parents to pay for them to have breast implants, nose jobs and liposuction!

Its kind of hard to convince your daughter otherwise when her mom, grandmother and aunts all have breast implants. Girls so want implants that they are taking loans to have these implants. Body image trumps safety. These girls and their parents don’t seem phased by the possible side effects, what some think are going to give them a lifetime of pleasure can turn into a lifetime of pain. Certain autoimmune disorders and neurological diseases can occur if the implants rupture.

These teens pushing for plastic surgery are not motivated by their health. They want to look like the women they see onscreen and in the magazines- or at least “look like everyone else.” We cannot deny that the media has a part to play in this but it’s also a physical comparison to others. Our society places very high premiums on “physical attractiveness” and rewards those who are thin, youthful and handsome. We also live in a culture that emphasizes competition and legitimizes “self-improvement” as a way to gain a competitive edge.

Do we realize that fashion is geared toward fueling and funding the weight loss industry and the cosmetic surgeons? Clothing is cut to make you feel that you either need to lose something to look good in it or enhance something for it to fit properly. All we see are flaws because that’s what they want us to see, we see flaws and we are willing to do just about anything to get rid of them.

So what can we do to save our girls? Are we going to give in and in essence validate that their bodies were made with flaws to be fixed and when fixed you are the “perfect woman”? What are your thoughts???