Monday, July 30, 2012

Bullied Girls, Ears That Stick Out, and Plastic Surgery

So I read this this morning. I also read this (I read this one first).  I wish I had something witty and articulate to say but the best I might be able to do is rantingly all over the place but insightful. When an issue is too personal and also when I haven't chosen a "side" on the issue, my ability to be articulate (which is fleeting at best anyhow) goes out the window.

And the articles, this girl, this whole issue is personal for me. It's not personal in the since that I know this girl, but I do 'know' her because I was her. Every description about the girl, from the too big ears that stuck out, to the relentless taunts I lived. If you were to compare a picture of this girl to me at that same exact age, our ears would've been a match. I had those ears that stuck out way too far and were too big for my head. If you were to compare our experiences at that age, they would've been eerily similar. I was called 'dumbo' on a daily basis, along with Dopey, the stupidest dwarf from Snow White, and I was called a donkey and about a thousand other 'clever' taunts the kids in my school could come up with. Sometimes, when I wore my hair up, some jerks at my school would run past me, flicking or thumping my ears. I was a very sensitive kid and it would make me cry all the time. Everything described about that girl's bullying  I experienced for myself.

I should also mention that 14 was the exact age I first looked into the same surgery she had, otoplasty. I should also mention that because it was elective we would've had to pay for the surgery out of pocket and because it was what I considered at the time to be way too expensive, I opted out at the time. In that way I'm a bit different from the girl in the article. I put up with the taunts and the evilness through high school and it did get better.

Based on the picture, do I think she was beautiful just the way she was in the before shot? Yes. Do I think having her nose and chin done at the same time was excessive and unnecessary? Yes. Am I a little grossed out that this non-profit helped get these elective surgeries? Yes, but they sound like they help with a bunch of other facial deformities and given my history with clefts I won't badmouth them.

But I'm not going to preach that she shouldn't have had the operation, the way the Jezebel article tries to say. I won't that she should've stuck it out.  Because I did have the surgery later in life. I was in my early twenties, when I had the income to pay for the procedure myself and also the good sense to know that a) the surgery wasn't a game changer, self-confidence and security wise and b) just because I was changing this one thing did not give me reason to go ahead and change anything and everything else. And I'm glad I had the surgery. I'm glad I made the change, because making that change gave me the ability to forget about my ears. The amount of mental energy and time I wasted, especially when I was a teenager thinking about my ears, making decisions solely based upon my insecurities around my ears, the bad hair choices I made in an effort to hide my ears became a total non-issue after I had the surgery. And can I just say perms are out of the kettle and into the fire as far as hair choices based on ear insecurities is concerned? Yes the big spiral perm I sported between sophomore and junior year did a good job of hiding my ears but but that afro-perm had its own orbit! So not helpful!

My Hair in the 90's.
Ahem. See what I mean about rantingly insightful? Although finding out I had hair that was similar to that new contestant on Project Runway maybe stretching the defintion of insightful, but whatever.

What was I saying again? My point is a) I don't think she would've grown into those ears as the article suggests because I sure as hell didn't b)I am happy for her that she did get it done because now she doesn't have to spend the time I did worrying about her ears, but c) I am a little miffed that she pulled a 'while you're doing that, we might as well go the whole nine yards' thing and got her chin and nose done at the same time. That smacks a leeeeeetle on that side of the line of body dysmorphic disorder and that is definitely a slippery slope but d) I'm glad she is getting counseling so that she keeps her self-image in check.

I think what I'm saying is that we shouldn't be too hard on these sort of decisions and make it a capital c Case about the state of teenagers' self image and Oh My God the Horror that she should feel good about herself now. Yes, now that her ears are taken care of, she's going to move on to feeling insecure about other things. But she's a teenager. That's her birthright.

The Headline in that Jezebel article just pisses me off a tad. "Is heartbreakingly thrilled". You know what. She's allowed to be. I was too when my ears were revealed. She's allowed! Now leave her alone and let her be a teenager.

I put the rant in rantingly insightful don't I?

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