When I was in high school, I had this friend. To me, because she was my friend, I didn’t see what others saw as her ‘imperfection’ (I will not specify the imperfection). Her 9th and 10th grade years were spent being bullied and talked about because of her ‘imperfection’. The whispers about how the ‘imperfection’ came about were nasty, ugly, some even sexually vulgar. While she did not cry about it in public, she did not seem that it was affecting her, it was quite clear when we returned back to school the next year that it did bother her.
She had cosmetic surgery. Her ‘imperfection’ gone. People that used to whisper about her in the gym and high school hallways were now lining up to be her friend.. ‘She’s pretty again’. In my immature mind, not only did they change, but so did she. She produced confidence that was never there before, and the unconditional friend, me, was left behind. Over the next two years it was repeated by myself and others ‘She think she all that because she got her ____ fixed’. Mean girl, not hardly. Jealous of her popularity? Maybe a little. Confused about her decision to change her authentic self? Very much so.
Fast forward to 2012. Nadia Ilse is a 14 year old child being bullied about her physical appearance. So much so, that $40,000 was donated to change her entire look.
Nadia’s ears were pinned back. Her chin reconstructed. Her nose reshaped. Her hair color changed and it even looks like something was done to her skin.
I am outraged. The problem is, I don’t know who to vent the bulk of my frustration to.
So let’s start with The Little Baby Face Foundation, who in my opinion wasted donations and tax dollars. Their mission is to help children with facial deformities- Cleft lip and palette, you know stuff like that (I assume)? This young lady had no facial deformities. Tell me Little Baby Face Foundation…. How many children with true deformities were pushed back in line for this ‘Extreme Makeover Ala High School’?
Next up, the parents. Somewhere along the way, parents stopped teaching ‘Love yourself’, and left the carefree life of individuality and hopped on the sexist, misogynist, superficial bandwagon of 2012 that clearly states “If it don’t look right to the public, get a new one’”. I sit here and wonder how many times they called, and cried, and stressed and begged this foundation to give into their superficial needs. What happened to the days when parents were actually parenting and taught their children to love themselves and their individuality?
The bullies? Sure we could waste time blaming them, and while I am not excusing their behavior, bullies are a part of growing up. Have they become more cruel and cold blooded in this dreadful technology age? Sure sure sure. But remember, if not her, it would be someone else. And getting this surgery did not take her out of the line of fire. Having this done was reinforcement that she agreed with what they said.
Parenting is getting harder and harder. I have a daughter too, my beautiful black princess. She’s dark skinned and she has eczema. Kids at school make fun of her condition because her skin is sometimes dry and appears ashy. The kids make fun of her skin tone. They have asked her repeatedly “Why is your mother so light and you are so black and ashy?”. I’ve seen her cry and ask me why she was not born my color. It breaks my heart. But through the heartbreak I taught her self confidence. I tell her how beautiful she is, how smart and brilliant she is, I remind her that she is gifted, artistic, well versed. I have put in motion strategies to combat her skin issues. I also joke with her all the time and remind her that she got the skin condition from me. I’m teaching her self esteem, confidence and self worth.
Without teaching your children to love themselves, plastic surgery or no plastic surgery, they, like my friend, will always be reminded of what they used to be. How they used to look. The past memories captured in photograph will never go away. The humble, modest attitude of the self proclaimed ugly ducking will die and the arrogant, self absorbed attitude of the beautiful swan will appear. The bullying will not end, it will be taken to new heights. Please, before taking your child to a plastic surgeon consultation, turn off your phone, shut your computer down, turn off the TV and talk to your babies. Teach them to love themselves and that a knife is not the solution to their problems.
In order for others to love you, you must first love yourself. I don’t know who the hell said that, but it was so true.