Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Plastic surgery: The Butchery Of Children

Many of us can look back upon our childhoods and point to incidents where we were bullied.  In fact I remember being called bum wiggler when I was 6.  I also remember being taunted when I was nine as a teachers pet, because I had an advanced vocabulary for my age.  I quickly learned to hide my intelligence to stop the taunts and the bullying.  I was further attacked because I was a black child growing up in a largely Greek and Italian neighbourhood.  I wanted so desperately to fit in, and just be like everyone else.  My story is not unique.  Bullying continues to happen in schools across the western world.  Though schools claim to have a zero tolerance policy, it is still very much a part of childhood. 

The medical establishment has come up with the cure to end our childhood trauma.  It seems that if your child is being picked on because their nose is too big, or that their breasts are not developing as fast as the other girls, Dr.Butchery will come to the rescue with a surgical solution.  As I was to discover much to my dismay, in an article posted at the MailOnline, doctors are performing surgery on  girls as young as 14.

These surgeries of course are all to end bullying in the schools.  I find it problematic that we are teaching young girls that instead of standing up to demand respect, that they should rush  to the surgeon to fix their perceived faults.  What does it say about western society that 14 year olds are asking for, and receiving breast implants? What does it say about our education system that young girls feel compelled to risk their  lives in this manner? Make no mistake, each and every time you go under general anaesthesia you are risking your life.

That doctors see plastic surgery as helping end childhood trauma is extremely problematic. Medicine is increasingly becoming more of a business, than a practice of sustaining life. How meaningless is this oath today?

TO RECKON all who have taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents and in the same spirit and dedication to impart a knowledge of the art of medicine to others. I will continue with diligence to keep abreast of advances in medicine. I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations, so long as the treatment of others is not compromised thereby, and I will seek the counsel of particularly skilled physicians where indicated for the benefit of my patient.

I WILL FOLLOW that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous.

Yes out of the goodness of their hearts they perform plastic surgery.  When we perform a charitable act, do we charge the recipient, or do we perform the act without expecting payment in return.  We should not pretend that these "charitable acts" do not benefit doctors. According to the article a nose job costs thirty five hundred pounds and breast augmentation can cost between thirty-four hundred to five thousand pounds. "The number of teenagers having breast enlargements has increased by more than 150 per cent in the past year. Statistics from three of Britain's largest cosmetic surgery chains show almost 600 teenagers aged 18 and 19 had the surgery last year." Do the math, that is a significant amount of money for charitable acts. 

These surgeries are predatory.  No doctor should be altering a body before it has completely reached maturity.  The fact that they have to take into consideration that a girls natural breasts will grow when they perform the augmentation surgery, speaks loudly of how unnatural of an act that this is.  Doctors are simply profiting from the beauty cult that has been attached to femininity. That they do not offer coping skills, or counselling, and instead reach for a cure that benefits them, clearly proves that medicine is not about the best interest of a patient.  Doctors act as gatekeepers and when they agree to perform these unnecessary surgeries on minors, they are confirming that indeed their bodies are faulty.  This can lead to long term damage.

The more I thought about this issue, the more enraged I became. At some point we need to agree that beauty should not be arrived at through the butchery of the body. At some point we need to agree to stop policing female bodies in this manner.  No ones worth should be determined simply based on their physical appearance, and when trusted institutions like medicine reaffirm social practices like beauty cults, it encourages even more policing and social discipline.  So I implore the plastic surgeons to do no harm - practice your skills on the sick, and leave the healthy children alone. 


David said...
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A. said...

Agreed that the surgeons should turn away children unless there is a medical problem, but I believe the parents hold some responsibility too. Really it should never get as far as the surgeon, especially in the UK where the referral has to go through a GP. But the first gatekeeper must be a parent.

Many years ago my own mother suggested I might need plastic surgery for "a problem" I hadn't known existed. I hadn't been bullied, I hadn't mentioned anything to her. I was devastated, but I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of doing anything about it. I imagine many young people might react differently.

selkie said...

I agree with A. that it starts with the parents. Every child goes through a period entering puberty where they "compare" themselves, find themselves lacking - but in truth, are really seeking reassurance and confirmation that they are not just 'fine' the way they are, but PERFECT as they are.

Having brought up (bringing up) 4 kids, I have seen FAR too many parents invested in their perception of how their children look - as if their children's appearance, trendiness, popularity, etc is a reflection all about THEM - i.e. these children are simply more accessories -

This can't help but reflect on the kids sense of self esteem.

In other cases, it can be tempting to "fix" your child's hangup about a perceived lack in some area of appeaance but I believe taht is a HUGE mistake - more important to get to the root of the issue - WHY is the child so focused on an imagined flaw? What in truth is the REAL issue.

kids have always been sorta cruel to kids - that is the nature of growing up- it is how we develop social skills, how we learn self sufficiency, how we learn to deal with adversity and setbacks.

And while i agree that it is female children who are most targetted - male children are becoming increasingly exposed to the same sad standards.

Danny said...

I've always found it odd that parents that love their children and want them to be happy would turn around and suggest that happiness can be obtained from a surgeon. I supposed they want to "fix" whats wrong with their child in an effort to prevent from experiencing unpleasentries.

male children are becoming increasingly exposed to the same sad standards.
Believe me when I say boys have been targetted there for years. Its just getting more attention now and being dressed up like its a "new problem".

Rebecca said...

I agree with everything you said, and would like to add that surgery will do nothing to prevent bullying. I was bullied as a teenager, and I had a patriarchally approved body... white, thin, large breasts but not too large, conventionally pretty face. I was bullied and called ugly not because of the way I looked but because that's what bullies do. If a young woman gets breast implants to stop bullying, the bullies will just start taunting her about her fake breasts (or something else about her) rather than her small breasts.

Guy Vestal said...

After last nights rant on children being used as a political tool... Yet again I feel another rant a comin... But I will just refer back to my comment on "fat hate" for those that want to know my opinion on the media and society.

Why is it forbidden to have self esteem? Why can we not love ourselves for who we are? Why do we care what others think of this outer shell that houses our heart and soul?

Something tells me that all of the ills of the world should be blamed on one four letter word alone.


Politics, religion, education, blah blah... So much hate, so little personal responsibility.

Write us a post on personal responsibility in all aspects of life. I am dying to see what you have to say. :-) No specifics like politics, or religion. Just a humans need to be responsible for every breath that they take in. I like your thought pattern. (most of the time)

pizzadiavola said...

It seems that if your child is being picked on because their nose is too big, or that their breasts are not developing as fast as the other girls, Dr.Butchery will come to the rescue with a surgical solution.

What's also frustrating is that even after plastic surgery, the victims cannot win. The nature of the patriarchy (or bullying, more broadly speaking) is that you can never be just right - if a girl gets breast implants, she'll be teased for having breasts that are fake/too large/too small. If she gets a nose job, she'll be teased for having freckles. If she gets a fake tan, she'll be teased for having bad hair. Etc. You can't win by acceding to the bullies' taunts.

Kara said...

I agree with all these comments. But I'm not opposed to breast reduction if it causes a problem. There is no reason a petite girl, who wears a size 2 should have to wait to have her 34 GGs removed because of her age. If they are that large where she is practically unable to function, she should have the right to cut them suckers (no pun intended) down to a reasonable size.