Opinion Web Exclusive

Plastic surgery app aims to change children’s natural beauty

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

It goes without saying that nobody is perfect and everyone has flaws.

Human beings are typically not completely happy with the way they look 100 percent of the time. While being happy and confident in one’s own wonderfully imperfect skin is a different discussion, it is not unusual to occasionally have wistful thoughts of a taller, more successful and productive person.

However, when one looks to entertainment outlets and social media, there are various media that are trying to grab onto this small shred of the public’s insecurities to make money. The entertainment industry grabs onto this insecurity by showing the “simple” solution of plastic surgery in a way they believe to be engaging.

In 2004, one of the most sadistic and demeaning shows to grace TV emerged on Fox for a full 60 minutes. “The Swan” was a show in which women who were deemed “ugly” were given the chance to receive extreme makeovers.

One might wonder exactly what an extreme makeover entails. The hopeful reader may now be imagining an extreme makeover that involves a few highlights and some blush that helps bring out the beauty that was there the whole time — but this was not the case.

The purpose of “The Swan” was to give the women extreme makeovers with the aid of major plastic surgery. After these contestants underwent procedures — such as liposuction, tummy tucks, rhinoplasty, an ungodly amount of breast implants and many other forms of augmentation — they would compete in a beauty pageant to discover who is no longer the “ugly duckling” and has transformed into “the swan.”

This show aired for only two seasons, but that is two seasons too many.

Plastic surgery is not an unusual term — it is mentioned constantly in conversations involving celebrities, after all.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 14.6 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures took place in 2012.

Nevertheless, this alarming statistic showing people who altered their body is not something that should be glamorized by programs like “The Swan.”

Though “The Swan” was shot down like a duck during hunting season, new forms of degrading entertainment are surfacing.

Apple is the newest addition to the line of companies whose mothers should have told them it’s not okay to talk to a woman about her weight.

Apple recently released an app on iTunes similar to the board game Operation. This app features a cartoon of an overweight girl standing in an office wearing a sports bra and shorts.

The blurb for the app reads, “This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic, she can go through surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We’ll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her, doctor?”

Players are then encouraged to use anesthesia and scalpels to numb and cut Barbie into a warped view of animated perfection.

The name of this app is “Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie.” This name is quite a mouthful, so I would have preferred something shorter and to the point, such as “Make Me Insecure Barbie.”

It’s no surprise that shortly after its launch, online communities joined together to get this application removed. The uproar from this game caused people to notice an almost identical app by Google Play called “Plastic Surgery for Barbara.”

The guardian.com reports that “Plastic Surgery for Barbara” features a close-up of a blonde-haired cartoon Barbara with dotted surgery marker lines over her face and body.

The blurb for this app reads, “Plastic surgeon is going to make operation on her body and face in order to return cute Barbara’s look.”

The main problem with these games is their intended age groups. “Plastic Surgery for Barbara” is intended for children 12 and older, while “Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie” is aimed at children nine and older.

Hotel and restaurant management sophomore Rhiannan Stegenga recognizes that body image is a struggle that society faces, but doesn’t place too much weight on these games.

“It’s something that people push off a lot,” Stegenga said. “People don’t really explore how much society is affecting our self-esteem and body image.”

“The app does show, to an extent, that our society is more focused on beauty, physique and plastic surgery, but at the same time, it still is just an app,” she said. “On the one hand, I think it was a terrible idea to create it in the first place, but on the other hand, I think that there are a lot of apps that are terrible ideas.”

Both apps have since been removed, but not before they caused the public to worry about the impact these games could have on the people who already downloaded the app.

Young boys and girls — more so with young girls — are already going to go through the awkward stage where things don’t fit and hair is showing up in seemingly odd places. There is no need to target a game about vanity toward this age group.

In the same 2012 statistic from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the 13-to-19-year-old age group does have the lowest percentage of the options, but the individual numbers within the category are surprising.

For example, more than 33,000 individuals within this age group received rhinoplasty in 2012, more than 8,000 underwent breast augmentation, and more than 17,000 received Botox or Dysport.

Let me be clear, I am not dismissing plastic surgery. There are many people who get reconstruction after an accident or get surgery because they would be unhappy and self-conscious otherwise.

It’s not the act of these cosmetic procedures that are offending — it’s the glamorizing of them. Unfortunately, humans are probably going to continue being so uncomfortable in their bodies that they feel like they need to change to be happy.

However, this act should not be glamorized in a way that shows young children and teenagers that in order to feel beautiful, plastic surgery is the only answer. People also should not be under the impression that if their physical appearance is altered, their mental health will automatically become better.

Plastic surgery doesn’t need to be viewed as a quick fix for health issues and body features that society views to be unflattering.

Children should be taught to be happy in their own skin instead of being happy altering the skin on an animated Barbie app.

Senior staff columnist Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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