New face to beat the bullies

At 14 years of age, Nadia Isle has resorted to plastic surgery in an attempt to beat the bullies who have made her life a misery since the age of six. School peers would call out taunts such as ‘Dumbo’ and ‘elephant ears’, leading to Nadia asking her mum for an operation to pin back her ears, when she was just 10-years old.

However, Nadia has gone a little further than just having her ears pinned back. She’s also got a new nose and chin. The Little Baby Face Foundation, a New York non-profit organisation which offers procedures for children with facial birth defects, paid for the $40,000 surgery.

Nadia, who now says, “I feel beautiful, I feel better about myself”, hopes that when her classmates see the extreme lengths she has gone to, “they will realise what they have done and they will stop”. The story has prompted debate about whether going under the surgeon’s scalpel is an effective way for children to combat bullying. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that there has been more than a five-fold increase in teenagers resorting to plastic surgery in the past 15 years, yet many doctors believe that youngsters such as Nadia should learn to ignore the taunts.


Opinion – Is going under the knife really the answer?

As a parent one of the most important life skills I can teach my child is resilience.  It is not my job to wrap him up in cotton wool, or to pander to his every whim just to make him happy. Time after time he will face situations which don’t quite pan out as he would hope and he will meet people who are less than pleasant. By giving him the inner strength to draw on in such times, hopefully he will be able to pick himself up and get on with life.

Children face so much pressure from their peers to wear the right clothes, look the right way and to hang out with the right people. When this doesn’t come naturally, should parents do all they can to rectify the situation? Is it necessary to buy your child the latest designer gear so they fit in? Or even resort to plastic surgery so they look the same as everyone else?

The story of Nadia, the 14-year old girl from Geogia who turned to plastic surgery in order to stop the taunts of her peers is distressing. Firstly, it is sad that such bullying went on for eight years and no one stepped in to stop it. But it is beyond my comprehension that a parent would be willing for their child to go under the scalpel just to make them look better. Not only did Nadia have her ears pinned back, which was the basis of the taunts, but she decided, upon the advice of her surgeon, to have some work done on her nose and chin as well. Who, I ask is looking after the welfare of this young girl? Not only has she been subjected to unnecessary surgery, but she now thinks that her appearance is more important than the inner person.

Being beautiful and successful doesn’t stop the taunts and the bullying. Take, for instance, the story of Charlotte Dawson, successful model and television personality, who was subjected to such vitriolic bullying on Twitter, that she harmed herself and ended up in hospital. By her own measure, Charlotte is a strong, capable woman, but these taunts, many referring to her taking her own life, were just too much to handle.

In a world where bullies are increasingly nameless, faceless cowards, no amount of surgery is going to help youngsters battle these demons. Standing up to them is the only way to make a difference.

Is bullying getting out of hand? Is there anything which can be done to stop bullying? Or should parents do whatever they can to help their child if bullied?

Written by Debbie McTaggart