The perfect body . . . or your life? That’s essentially the question raised in a new survey of British undergraduates. Surprisingly, nearly one-third of the young women said they would trade at least a year of their lives to have a perfect body.
The survey found that 16 percent of them would trade a year, 10 percent would give two to five years, and 2 percent would trade up to 10 years of life. One percent said they would even give up 21 or more years.
It seems as though today’s youth consider the perfect appearance more important than qualities such as kindness, honesty, a sense of humor, or intelligence.
In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 326,000 children age 18 and younger had cosmetic procedures in 2004.
Now, I believe that if something is broken, fix it if you can. That’s why I support a child’s desire (not a parent’s pressure) to pin back large ears (otoplasty), to correct breast asymmetry or reduce enlarged male breasts (gynecomastia), and reshape a nose (rhinoplasty), which is the most common procedure among teens since noses reach their final form between ages 13 and 16.
What horrifies me is that some plastic surgeons will perform liposuctions and breast enlargements on kids. They will also inject Botox and other fillers into children. These procedures aim to make children appear more like adults and relate to issues of sexuality — not self-confidence.
Yet even when procedures address quality-of-life issues, children, by virtue of their lack of maturity, may have exaggerated notions of how these procedures will improve their lives.
Physicians and parents need to confirm that the child is realistic about what these changes can and will do for them. And we need to be aware that our culture is teaching our children to revere appearance over character. And that is clearly not a good thing.
I laughed heartily upon reading a report on the toy doll Barbie. This doll has been the center of controversy with critics insisting that young girls will develop unrealistic ideas of body image based on the doll’s appearance. That’s not the funny part.
I laughed because her waistline is proportionally 39 percent smaller than the average anorexic, and her fat-to-body ratio is below the 17 percent required to menstruate.
Researches generated a computer model of an adult woman with Barbie-doll proportions, found that her back could not support her body, and she would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and just a few centimeters of intestine. Such a woman would die of malnutrition.
Now that I think of it, that really isn’t funny at all.
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