Many adolescents are dissatisfied with their facial features or body shape. If earlier they had to accept traits granted by nature, nowadays they have other options. Thus, many teenagers either dream about cosmetic surgery or undergo it. The causes of their choice vary. Some of them wish to look like a star. Others have flaws that make other people torture them with cruel jokes. Thus, they choose to come through an operation, hoping for a better life. However, they do not consider the possibility that the operation may not help.
People’s obsession with television and exquisite lifestyle is one of the grounds for such phenomenon. In his book, Derber explains who celebrities are and why individuals want to look like them. According to Derber (2000), “A celebrity is a person whose simple presence commands instant and overwhelming attention” (p. 11). The author even provides an example when he was lured by one of the famous females. While many adults would probably draw a line between looking pretty and being famous or successful, teenagers could fail to understand that such difference exists. Their minds are immature, and some of them love fantasizing, so they probably imagine how the new look may make them famous, but in reality, it will not. Derber emphasizes that there is a reason why individuals search for more attention. People do not have enough attention when compared with celebrities, so they take efforts to get some. Thus, it is clear that a young girl whom nobody or few people notice at school would think that if she looked as a famous person, then she would become one. Probably, fame requires more than beauty, but also some other qualities, including, for example, self-confidence. However, Derber adds that such willingness can be justified because attention is one of the compounds of social interactions. Beside the wish to change their bodies, young girls also find other ways to copy the celebrities’ behavior: they wear much make-up and try to walk as if they were on a catwalk. Derber (2000) is concerned about a shocking tendency, “Parents now are known to give their teenage daughters cosmetic surgery as graduation gifts” (p. 14).
Every year, people start to think about plastic surgery earlier. Sometimes the age when a person already thinks about it seems striking because it is the time to think about dolls or toy cars, but not about operative intervention. Martinson provides an example of a girl who wanted to have operation since the early age – eleven. Even when the girl became a grown-up, she refused to consider any other solutions to her problems, including a therapy. Martinson (2014) adds, “In 2005, a magazine survey of 2000 teenagers found that 40 % of girls had considered plastic surgery.” The author also mentions that those numbers were five times smaller if to compare them with today’s statistics. Martinson also agrees that one of the causes why young girls wish to look like celebrities is the picture they see on television. These girls do not understand that many celebrities look that way because they underwent the same procedures, but not because the nature was kinder to them than to other females. As a result, girls think that they are not beautiful enough, and many complexes emerge. Martinson mentions an executive who works in the sphere of medicine and who had enough courage to ask the government to restrict such operations for youngster. Unfortunately, the profits were more significant for officials, and they denied the order to do it. Most experts do not believe in the effectiveness of such restrictions. Instead, they see the solution in dealing with the image that young females observe on television.
Like Martinson, Sweeney also starts her article by providing a real-life example of a young girl who was very dissatisfied with her body. Sweeney points out that at an early age, a person is not mature enough to think about changing his or her body. Sweeney blames celebrities and television for causing teenagers to have such views, as well. In this example, the girl also believed that surgery would solve all her troubles. According to the recent research that involved 1000 young American females, “7 in 10 girls surveyed believed that when it came to issues including beauty and body image they did not ‘measure up’” (Sweeney, 2009). In this article, one of the experts admits that girls often seek plastic surgery because this way is easier for them. For example, instead of going in for sports and eating less high-calorie food, girls tend to wish for liposuction. However, some girls do not understand that the consequences to which this decision can lead are durable and may even be tragic. Sweeney also provides an opposing view concerning such surgical intervention. She introduces an example of a man whose life could have turned into a disaster if his close relatives had not decided to decrease the size of his ears. So, there are cases when even infants need such operations.
Zuckerman and Abraham also agree that recently the popularity of cosmetic surgery among teenagers has grown drastically. In 2005, approximately one third of a million of American teenagers had a plastic surgery. According to Zuckerman and Abraham (2008), “One in four of these were surgical procedures such as nose reshaping, ear surgery, breast augmentation, liposuction, chin augmentation, and abdominoplasty.” Women constitute about 90 per cent of all the patients. Zuckerman and Abraham look closely at breast-enlarging surgery. There is a regulation that restricts such operations on the young. However, doctors and potential patients find a way to conduct this type of operation with the help of parents’ agreement. In 2003, about eleven thousand teenagers had breast-enlarging surgeries. The authors also discuss liposuction. They provide the statistics gathered by two institutions. They point out how dangerous this procedure may be. An individual may get infected, his or her skin, major organs, and even nerves may be damaged, not to mention long-lasting bruises and discomfort. Zuckerman and Abraham also discuss what teenagers who think about having such operations should know. For example, those young females who consider their breasts too small should be aware that breasts can become larger even when they reach 20-22. Thus, in 16 or 18 it is early to think that the size is final. The authors also mention that if parents criticize, disapprove, or neglect their children, then they will be more likely to have such operations. Stars from films, television, dolls and book protagonists may also contribute to such decision.
Diller considers another cause for having plastic surgery – bullying. She points out that if earlier this problem was of a psychological character, today it has become the one of a physical character. She mentions an organization that strives to help the victims of bullying for free. This organization offers the operations to the young who have inborn defects on their faces. Most of this organization’s clients do not have enough money to pay for these expensive surgical interventions. Although this offer may be beneficial for children, teenagers use it to prevent the occurrence of bullying. Diller provides an example of a young female whose ears were big, and it was the reason why acquaintances offended her all the time. Thus, when this girl turned ten, she started to ask parents to pay for the operation. The organization offered its help and other alternations for her face. The girl agreed because she feared the possibility of further bullying, and after the operation, she admitted that she was satisfied with the results. However, Diller (2012) is concerned, “Do we encourage our children to seek ‘normalcy’ by going under the knife to achieve culturally deemed acceptable features, rather than teach kids to love themselves?” The author discusses such operations before college, too. Diller denies that an operation can improve an individual’s emotional state after bullying.
Ulene describes her own experience of not liking one of her traits. Ulene (2009) mentions the statistics of operations among teenagers in 2007 and adds, “The most popular surgical procedures were nose jobs, breast augmentation, ear reshaping and liposuction” (p. 1). Thus, if to compare it with the data provided by Zuckerman and Abraham for the year 2005, teenagers’ preferences did not change much. Ulene, as well as other authors, explains such behavior with the unrealistic norms of the concept of beauty that is held today. Ulene also mentions that some features that teenagers consider ugly may change over time, but teenagers have no desire to wait for a miracle if a simple solution exists.
To conclude, the number of teenagers who have an idea to change something in their appearance increases every year. Today even small children find a way to undergo an operation despite certain imposed restrictions. In most of the articles analyzed for this research, there is a statement that one of leading causes for the phenomenon of plastic surgery is the image of the perfect appearance that adolescents see in the media. Thus, to save teenagers from making such mistakes, it is relevant to change this image.
Derber, C. (2000). The pursuit of attention: Power and ego in everyday life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Diller, V. (2012, July 31). A solution to bullying: Where do we draw the line? The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/bullying-plastic-surgery_b_1718398.html
Martinson, J. (2014, April 28). Cosmetic surgery and teenagers – A disaster waiting to happen. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/apr/28/cosmetic-surgery-and-teenagers-disaster-waiting-to-happen
Sweeney, C. (2009, January 14). Seeking self-esteem through surgery. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/fashion/15skin.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Ulene, V. (2009, January 12). Plastic surgery for teens. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/12/health/he-themd12
Zuckerman, D., & Abraham, A. (2008, July 31). Teenagers and cosmetic surgery: Focus on breast augmentation and liposuction. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(4), 318-324. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.04.018.