The other night I watched the show Dateline, and at first I was very excited to because it was talking about a situation that has affected me greatly in the past- Bullying! As a kid I was as much of a geek as I am now and while today being a geek isn’t truly a bad thing (we have TV shows about us, most of the popular things are gaming or other geeky things) the fact remains that in the past, the life of a geek or nerd was no fun. In fact I’m sure it’s not much fun these days either for kids but it gets better as an adult. Anyway in the 80’s and 90’s when I was in elementary and high school I was bullied mercilessly by a certain group of kids. To tell the truth, I couldn’t escape and since they teased me mostly about how I talked (I had a speech problem as a kid where I couldn’t say the letter R) I really couldn’t change much to stop the teasing.
Now as an adult I look back on things and I can say, Yes every moment of bullying hurt. Every moment of taunting still rings in my ears when I think back to those days. From people saying I spoke like a robot to making fun of how I said certain words. It all hurt, but I found ways to cope, to survive, and to rise above. I was hoping that this Dateline would be teaching kids and parents things like this; unfortunately, what they talked about wasn’t ways to cope but ways to conform to stop the bullying. The show followed four kids who were being bullied about their looks and how they tried to use a service called the Baby Face Foundation to get plastic surgery to help them look “Normal”. Of the four kids we had one girl who was teased because of a big nose, one boy teased because of a big nose, a boy who had a small chin and a girl with a legitimate already worked on problem with her eyes which she had some sort of defect she was born with. All of the kids were brought in for surgery except for the one with a small chin because the foundation saw this as a “cosmetic” surgery and not within their foundations scope.
Looking back at my past dealings with bullies I have to say I REALLY disapprove of what this show was teaching us as a society. They are saying it is OK to conform to whatever the bullies are bullying you about to stop it. They’re saying to give in to the bullying. But would this really stop such things from happening? In my experience now it wouldn’t.
Imagine you have a low enough self esteem to be pushed to the extreme of having surgery just so people stop saying bad things about you. What happens when instead of commenting on your nose they comment on your teeth? What happens if you put on a little weight? Do you then go get Lipo because someone comments on a love handle? What happens if the bullies find out you had plastic surgery to stop them from bullying? If they were like the bullies at my school that would just goad them on even more.
How does surgery help someone with the coping mechanisms to put up with bullying? In my eyes, it seems more like it would be detrimental. It’s teaching them to run from problems and do anything to conform to what society thinks as normal, but lets be honest what is normal when it comes to looks? No one has the same eyes, or nose, or ears or anything else. Why should little asshat bullies be the ones to define how you as a person look?
In my opinion, the only one in the whole show that needed the surgery was the girl with the small eyes and that is only because it was an actual birth defect that she had had previous work on. For the other two, especially the girl, I think this can be more detrimental than anything else. The boy was actually starting to work on things by talking to his friends about bullying before he had the surgery. The girl however had actually become so bad she wouldn’t go to school simply because someone was saying her nose was too big. The girl has a deep rooted psychological problem and the fact that some cosmetic surgery got her going back to school worries me about her future.
There are bullies everywhere no matter how old you are, and you can’t always solve the problem with surgery. If a few jokes about her nose stopped her from going to school and basically made her into a hermit, what happens if someone says she’s too skinny? What happens if she’s flat chested when she gets older? What if she’s got too big a chest when she gets older? What if she gets fat? What if the braces she has come off and they didn’t fully straighten her teeth out? She had a very long face so what happens if someone teases her about that? What choices does this girl have for the future now? Will she want to run off and get surgery for every little defect someone finds?
I personally can not find a good upside to this type of story, so I would love to hear from you our readers! Do you think surgery is a viable option to stop bullying, or might it cause more problems in the long run? Talk it out in the comments below and let us know your thoughts and feelings!