When I was 15 I went to my mom and asked her if I could have a nose job. It was the thing I hated the most about my face, and even though it wasn’t one of the features that I was teased about, I thought fixing it would solve all of my problems.
I was shocked when my mother agreed to it (it was only later that I realized she never said anything like, “You don’t need it”). There was a caveat though. She said she’d only pay for it if I corrected my posture. I had to go a whole year without slouching, and without her having to tell me to stand up straight. I had horrible posture.
I was 5’8″ by the time I hit seventh grade. I crept up about another half-inch before I stopped growing, but I was well into high school before I was no longer a head taller than everyone else. When I stand up straight, I am at least an inch taller. Hence the slouch.
I wrote up a contract and my mother and I signed it.
Needless to say, I never had my nose done. I still slouch.
To some, agreeing to allow a child to have elective plastic surgery may not seem weird. To others, it may be absolutely ridiculous. As a parent, I would agree with the latter.
Recently, Today covered a story about the Little Baby Face Foundation. The foundation’s aim is to provide free plastic surgery to low-income children with facial deformities.
Renata, who is 15, received a free rhinoplasty from the foundation. She’s been home-schooled for three years — the victim of constant bullying. According to Today’s piece, at school she was known as “the girl with the big nose.”
Her mother argues that it’s no different than a parent putting braces on their child’s teeth, but psychologists worry that it sends the wrong message to victims of bullying.
The Little Baby Face Foundation only performs surgery on children who meet specific guidelines, one of which is a diagnosed facial deformity. According to Today, Dr. Thomas Romo, who runs the foundation, diagnosed Renata with hemi-facial microsomia. Second only to clefts, the birth defect occurs in 1 in 5,000 newborns, and causes underdevelopment in the face and, in Renata’s case, caused her nose to lean to the left, Romo explained.
The story cites several specialists and mental health professionals who weigh the pros and cons of such a radical decision, and whether we’re sending the right message to our children when we tell them they should change their physical appearance so that bullies will leave them alone.
I don’t think anyone escapes childhood without being picked on. Being bullied however, is much worse for some than for others. It still begs the question, is carving a child’s face into something society considers more beautiful really the answer?