But when Samantha Shaw’s ears stuck out, her parents paid for otoplasty to “pin her ears back” after she had become the target of bullying.
My aversion to this has nothing to do with how parents deal with their children being bullied. The topic here has nothing to do with bullying, in fact, although I’m sure the bullying and pain are real in this case. According to the article, childhood plastic surgery has gone up 30 percent over the last decade. The fact that all of this centers on a superficial problem minimizes the concept of bullying.
We parents have been there, and as we've become parents by being teenagers first, we probably know it from the other side as well.
So per the ABC News article, "Is Cosmetic Surgery the Answer to Bullying?," the answer is in the tagline to the article: “Young Girl Hopes Operation Will Stop Taunting.”
It won't. Kids will find another reason to pick on her or someone else. It's no more logical than trying to eradicate crime by moving it into someone else's neighborhood.
I was terrorized in school often in an average Baltimore County middle school in a good neighborhood. The nicest comments centered on my height. I was almost as tall then as I am now --- 5’9”. To harrass someone for being tall makes little sense, but I’m not sure taunting ever does. Okay, saying stuff like that is probably part of the reason I got taunted. I get that now…but I had to get through it all then.
What if I had been targeted for a physical thing that could have been fixed?
What if my parents had taken the drastic step of cosmetic surgery to help me?
What if my parents had the money and a willingness to part with it---to solve my problem?
That's a lot of if’s.
If the problem could be fixed.
If fixing the problem didn’t cause further physical damage--mistakes happen.
If the money spent on such a procedure wouldn’t be needed for something frivolous like college---or a kidney---later.
If the fact that my parents would step in to fix my problem would get me bullied more for being a crybaby.
If, well, you get the idea.
I was in 9th grade during the worst of it, so I never thought all of those if’s through, and I never told my mother about any of the stuff happening to me in school. She had enough on her mind at the time.
I don’t want to sound all tough-it-out, but I guess that’s what I did---barely. Those were rough, rough days. I cried a lot. I became extremely shy. Still, if it had been a superficial physical problem my parents could throw money at to fix, I’m not sure it would have been the best thing for me.
I came to a point where I decided to make myself fight through the shyness. I became a journalist, specializing in crime no less. You can’t be shy when you have to interview a city cop. You have to be tall, really tall. I wear boots with heels nowadays. I am woman, hear me roar.
On the opposite side of that coin, I do understand and empathize with the fact that Samantha Shaw’s parents stepped in. I don’t agree with them, but I understand it. No parent likes to see his child hurt.
As a parent, I’ve been on that side of the equation, too.
As I drove my daughter home from school one day, she burst into tears, inconsolable. I finally coaxed the problem out of her.
She half-spoke/half-cried: “James said, ‘You’re stupid!’”
Little James was an aggravating mammal in my daughter’s class. Normally he just annoyed me, but today I wanted to pin him to the wall (with a stapler) for making Ashley cry. Ashley was a quiet kid, too. I knew how this story would play out, and it was hard to know she’d be hurting, and I couldn’t fix it.
“James is stupid,” I told her. (Not nice, but nicer than the stapler.)
It worked. She stopped crying, but not for the reason I had thought.
“No, Mom, he said that YOU’RE stupid.”
I pointed a finger at myself. “Huh?!”
There it was all over again. Aggravating James, a middle-school boy, had called me stupid.
It didn’t bother me this go around. I was waaaay taller than James and had a feeling I always would be.