Since the birth of modern day media: newspapers; radio; theatre; television and movies – almost everyone dreams of being famous, or to be just as rich and beautiful as the stars. That dream is still very much alive for many people, and especially our youth, but the difference with today’s world is that you can actually satisfy that desire to a certain extent through social media and the internet. It is such a phenomenon that so many people live to post their lives on social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and the rest! It is almost as if putting yourself and your life out there for everyone to see validates your life as being successful or desirable. Not only this, computer technology has been developed specifically for this market and allows us to manipulate, filter and photoshop our pictures and selfies in order to make them more perfect. Whether or not this is right, it is very real for today’s young people and along with it comes the pressure to be beautiful, or more perfect in order to get more “likes” or fans or followers. Social media has created a world where under-age plastic surgery is becoming more and more appealing to the youth of today.
Plastic surgery is an amazing industry that does so many wonderful things for so many people. It allows people with traumas or disfigurements to regain function and aesthetics; it also improves the lives of so many who may have lived with obvious physical features that cause them either physical pain or mental anguish.
The issue we are talking about in this article is the growing popularity for young people to go under the knife in their pursuit of perfection. More and more teenagers are having nose jobs, boob jobs and many other surgeries, not to mention all the lasers and cosmetic procedures out there, believing it will give them that boost in confidence or self-image.
The problem is that teenagers tend to be fraught with self-esteem issues and insecurity over their changing bodies, so the argument is that they need time to settle into their changing bodies, and at least wait until the hormones have stopped raging.
It has been suggested by psychologists and industry professionals, and recently gained momentum with an article by Katie Price (of all people!) that the legal age for plastic surgery be raised to 21. Considering that in America, 21 is considered the legal age for drinking and other “adult” pursuits, it kind of makes sense. In Australia and England however, the legal “adult” age is 18 so it would be an extremely controversial and near impossible task to suggest that those wishing to undergo plastic surgery need to wait until they were 21 even though they are considered consenting adults.
The Medical Board of Australia has the right idea by suggesting the introduction of a “cooling off” period for those wishing to undergo plastic surgery. They have said that 3 months would be a sensible amount of time for teenagers to decide if their surgery was still their preferred option, but it was also indicated that they would need to undergo psychological and psychiatric testing. This is a great idea. It would certainly give teens a chance to pause and think more seriously about their decision. Read more about the Medical Board’s paper here.
Obviously, there are those young people with extremely relevant and pressing issues such an extremely large or unshapely nose with breathing issues; or the girl with the extremely large breasts causing her back pain and unwanted attention may have three extra years of discomfort; or, the most common plastic surgery procedure for teens and young people being otoplasty or ear surgery (for those with extremely protruding ears).
What we are more concerned about is the shy girl with smaller than average boobs being bullied because she is smarter than others, but she decides the only thing to help her is a boob job; or the girl looking at the photoshopped cheekbones of a model in a magazine and wanting to achieve the same look.
So is there a solution? Who knows? I think what needs to happen is we as a society, need to take a pause and a good hard look at ourselves. We need to realise that our imperfections are what makes us gorgeous and unique, and that most of the models in the magazines are photoshopped, filtered and surrounded by a team of beauty professionals to get them that way. We need to give our kids more confidence that they’re beautiful just the way they are. Plastic surgery is an amazing, wondrous and mind-blowing industry, and the advances being made are saving and improving lives; but our society’s obsession with it is affecting our children and we wonder how far it will go before we realise the world surrounding us is not real, but superficial and more man-made than it should be.