Patience a virtue, but plastic surgery is faster

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
June 30, 2004

Back in my day, a trip to Europe was considered a nice graduation gift. Having your parents pay for your college education was even better. But these days, a growing number of parents are giving girls the gift of the breast augmentation for their Sweet 16 or high school graduation.

In 2003, almost 4,000 girls 18 years old and younger had their breasts done. I don’t think this is exactly what feminists had in mind when they encouraged young women to aim higher.

It enhances their self-confidence, some parents may argue. Possibly. But shouldn’t they learn early on that silicone isn’t the answer to achieving happiness? One day, their bodies will sag and their faces will show the wear and tear of living. Maybe that might be the appropriate time for a little nip and tuck. But at 16?

Youth is so wasted on the young.

How else can you describe the rising number of teenagers getting plastic surgery to enhance their looks?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 9 percent of all chin augmentation procedures last year were done on patients 18 or under. Think that’s shocking? The same age group accounted for 12 percent of rhinoplasty and 60 percent of otoplasty — or ear surgery — procedures. And check this out — 21 percent of all male (that’s right — male) breast reduction operations were performed on teenagers.

Unless these kids are emancipated minors who have access to huge trust funds, I’m guessing their parents are paying for the procedures and, by doing so, validating that it’s OK to go under the knife for cosmetic purposes.

I’m a big proponent that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, go for it if it makes you happy. But do teenagers really know what makes them happy?  And besides, isn’t unhappiness with your looks and general malaise all part of the teen makeup? It’s been a while since I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure it is.

It’s a shame children these days are so impatient to grow into their faces and bodies. I’m guessing David Duchovny wasn’t exactly a looker as a kid.  Liv Tyler was awkward and chubby. And even Halle Berry wasn’t Halle Berry-pretty as an adolescent. Most will agree those three grew up just fine.

I look at one of my friends who had a nose job when she was 13. It’s appropriately small, perky and cute for a kid, but on a grown-up face it’s dwarfed by her other features. Another pal had her nose done after she graduated from high school. Yes, the doctor made it smaller, but the end result is more of a snout than a nose. Both their original noses were more attractive than their surgically altered features.

Perhaps some of these kids’ parents have had a little something done on themselves, so having their kids follow in their footsteps is no big deal.  But shouldn’t any surgery be a big deal since you can potentially die?

As a kid, I was a fairly decent athlete — gymnastics, track, fencing. And like many athletes, I had my share of injuries. I fell so severely once in gymnastics practice that my doctor had to split my arm open and stick a pin between the broken bones to straighten them before putting my arm in a cast.  I also had surgery on my foot, which had been beaten down from years of running.

Having been hospitalized for things that had to be fixed, I can’t imagine why anyone would choose surgery when they don’t have to. It’s not fun. It’s not simple. And I think it needs to be remembered that yeah, it is a big deal.


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