Plastic surgery: Is it acceptable for children?

Written by phoebecleghorn

It is universally understood that during our teenage years, humans are characteristically awkward.

It is universally understood that during our teenage years, humans are characteristically awkward. This can be attributed to sexual development, the superficiality of teen culture and an undeveloped sense of self-confidence, amongst endless other reasons. We get bullied, we feel insecure and if there is something thought to be amiss with our appearance we focus on it until it becomes almost unbearable, but the key word here is almost.

It is only in hindsight as adults that we realise these insecurities are actually conquerable with the increased confidence and self-acceptance which accompanies adulthood, and ideally we learn to accept these features as a unique and charming addition to our character.

Plastic surgery: A necessity or need to be perfect?

But disturbingly, statistics published by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery note that there were 35,124 surgical cosmetic procedures carried out on patients aged 18 or under in America during the year 2012. These were largely made up of otoplasty – the pinning back of ears, rhinoplasty – nose jobs, breast augmentation, vaginal rejuvenation and chin augmentation.

This number suggests the ease with which young people are able to receive plastic surgery for purely cosmetic reasons. It also raises the moral question of why exactly this is able to happen, and whether it is acceptable for someone so young to resort to having invasive surgery purely due to insecurity and low self-esteem, which would arguably be overcome with the wisdom of their approaching years.

One might consider how exactly these teenagers went about gaining their parents’ consent for these procedures, and why they felt that something so drastic must be done as a solution for superficial imperfection. Surely the majority of parents would be adamant that their child should not give in to the pressure of bullying or insecurity, and teach them to ride the storm?

Reinforcing negative ideals

This may be the case, but there is clearly an absence of this kind of parenting if such a large amount of cosmetic procedures are still occurring. Perhaps my view may be old fashioned, but cosmetic surgery of any kind just seems exceptionally vain and entirely unnecessary, unless the ‘flaw’ is somehow medically impeding the patient.

So when it comes to young people, who have bodies so newly developed if even fully developed at all, it strikes me as sheer destruction to artificially interfere with a body governed by an immature mind before they are able to fully understand the consequences of their alterations.

Not only is cosmetic surgery in young people controversial on this level, it is also fair to suggest that by buckling to whatever pressure it is these people are under to look slightly more ‘perfect,’ it is also a failure for anti-bullying campaigns. If a teenager is made to feel wholly insecure about a physical feature, be it their nose looking slightly bigger than their classmates’, their breasts being lower or their thighs being chunkier, by then fixing it with a nose job, breast augmentation or liposuction, the bullies inadvertently win.

This also reinforces negative ideals presented to society through media and popular culture and causes a whole list of issues in our youth such as anorexia, self-harm and in some cases suicide. In order to attempt to prevent these, in relation to low self-image, the best solution would perhaps be to offer emotional support and in some cases counselling as it is far more rewarding to learn to love yourself despite your supposed flaws, than rid yourself of them and render yourself a ‘normal’ looking human being.

With such implications as these, one could justly argue that cosmetic surgery should have an age limit of 21, because although in my view cosmetic procedures should be avoided at all costs, at least then the potential patient may have matured enough emotionally and physically to completely understand what it is they are doing, and would have had the time to try and battle through their issues thus making plastic surgery an absolute last resort.

It is not acceptable for bullied children to be allowed to ‘fix’ themselves cosmetically, because they should instead be fixing the system in which they are allowed to be made to feel small on the grounds of a physicality, and not simply accepting it and changing just to fit in.

What do you think about children seeking plastic surgery? What should constitute a need for plastic surgery? Have your say in the comments section below.