Opinion Web Exclusive

Plastic surgery a lazy way out of avoiding bullies, accepting who you are inside

Francis Emelogu//The Daily Cougar

Francis Emelogu//The Daily Cougar

If you’re a kid who’s insecure about your nose, a nonprofit called The Little Baby Face might just be able to help you out.

According to Today, The Little Baby Face foundation in New York City is a nonprofit organization that provides “free plastic surgery for low-income children who have facial deformities.”

In the case of 14-year-old Renata from South Carolina, she was given the opportunity to reconstruct her nose: something that she had been bullied about in school.

“They were just calling me ‘that girl with the big nose,’” Renata told Dateline.

As the bullying in school progressed, Renata’s self-esteem dropped. She experienced depression but refused to speak up about the issue to either her school’s administrators or her parents. Instead, her mother, Michelle, decided it would be best to allow her to be home-schooled.

This did not change her feelings of self-doubt, and she decided to apply for help from The Little Baby Face. The team of plastic surgeons at Baby Face provided Renata with both a free nose job and an added chin job to help “balance out her face,” according to TIME.

When questioned whether she believed she was doing the right thing, Renata told Dateline she believed the surgery would help deter bullies.

“I think that if they see you getting the surgery to fix something that they’ve teased you about, I think it would make them feel bad and maybe it would change their mind about doing it.”

Dr. Thomas Romo, the plastic surgeon who reconstructed Renata’s face, completely supports her decision to receive plastic surgery.

“If they go back, and they are the best-looking kid in the school, and they’re not getting bullied anymore … that’s just the (same type of) feedback that you would get from a patient that you operated on their heart, and they’re jogging again.”

Although Renata did receive support from both her family and the Little Baby Face Foundation, there are many who would also say her way of combating her bullies is both extreme and ineffective.

Psychologist Vivien Diller told Dateline that plastic surgery simply would not have the lasting effects that Renata thinks she will receive.

“If you can find a way of enjoying how you look, you can gain the kind of confidence that can last you a lifetime.”

I don’t believe that Renata’s surgery will have any positive impact on her life. I don’t think changing the way that she looks will help her in any way.

When I was Renata’s age, I was bullied relentlessly. I was bullied for being short, for being fat, for being Mexican. At that age, if someone had offered me plastic surgery to change myself into a tall, skinny Caucasian girl, I probably would’ve said yes. But that does not change how wrong that move would have been — how much I would regret it now.

My ugly features define me and have shaped me into who I am. It upsets me that Renata believes changing herself to fit into a cookie-cutter perception of beauty is going to benefit her in any way, because it won’t.

Plastic surgery won’t help Renata find people who love her, give her the self-confidence she’s yearning for or change how beautiful she thinks she is.

Renata needs more than a nose job or a chin job; she needs to find love for herself. She needs to learn to appreciate the weird parts of her body — because we all have weird parts of our bodies — and understand that beauty is not about how you look, but rather, it is a state of mind.

Opinion columnist Carolina Treviño is an advertising freshman and may be reached at [email protected]


  • Until someone has walked in the shoes of a bullied child and know their personal struggle it is a mistake to pass judgment.

    • Its one thing to judge and another thing to encourage plastic surgery as a way to boost self esteem or avoid bullying.

  • Carolina, thank you for bringing this subject to the attention of the UH community.

    Many of the patients who elect for cosmetic plastic surgery(non-disfigurement patients) could use counseling instead. I do not see plastic surgery as a legitimate way to improve one’s self esteem unless there is severe disfigurement. Doctors should encourage a patient to accept their healthy appearances as much as possible. There is alot of money to be made by performing plastic surgery on patients who are very insecure with their physical appearances. It breaks my heart. Doctors should follow the Hippocratic Oath instead of their bank accounts. I used to assist my uncle in plastic surgery on patients with cleft lip and other disfigurements. I have also operated on patients with pectus excavatum. That is very different than someone increasing their bust size from B to D with implants or removing wrinkles on their face. Many of the women who elect for these surgeries have false impressions that it will increase their self esteem or improve the relationships with their significant other. Once the novelty wears off, they elect for another surgery. I wish more people could see how beautiful they really are.

    I also am glad I didn’t listen to bullies at a young age who made fun of my ears in jr high. I have been offered modeling opportunities and have been told my many women that I’m quite handsome. If I had given into the pressure from morons who were probably as insecure about their looks as I was, who knows what would have happened.

  • Sadly a learn to live with, slight difference, can be an aid to individuality, a positive in the future. To remove a subtle difference that can separate one from the sameness of the crowd can be very sad.

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