A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio

A Bully Free Zone sign – School in Berea, Ohio By Eddie~S (Bully Free Zone Uploaded by Doktory) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

So, CNN is featuring a video of a girl who got plastic surgery to “fix” her problems because she’d been getting bullied since the 1st grade because of how she looked.  She was 10 the first time she asked her mom for the plastic surgery “to stop the bullying.”  Her mom found an organization online – “Little Baby Face Foundation.”  They flew her and her mom out there, and the doctor decided that she needed more than her problem area (her ears) fixed – he wanted to do her chin, too, because it was “too square.” 

Now, I have no problem with the fact that he wanted to fix her nose – her septum was completely deviated, and she stated after the surgery that she felt better physically because she was breathing better.  That, admittedly, is an important fix. 

But the fact that the doctor suggested the other changes because once her ears would be pinned back, her other problems would be more noticeable, and he wanted to “balance her features” tells me this is more about appearance and giving in to others’ perception of what we should be rather than what we are. 

I do want to note: There’s a difference between some of what is shown on the Little Baby Face Foundation’s website and the “problems” they fixed for the girl.  They show true deformities – microtia and other issues that causing hearing loss that can be fixed with surgery, cleft lip and cleft palate, and facial palsy.  These are true physical deformities, and ones that cause physical issues – unable to speak properly, inability to move portions of the face…  These are true problems that need to be fixed. 

Being bullied is not a reason to change.  Because, let’s be very honest, a bully is always going to find something to bully someone about.  The fact she had surgery, all by itself, is something she can be bullied about.  Talk about giving in to peer pressure!  And peer pressure from people who obviously have never been taught respect for others, compassion, or empathy.

But it goes further than that.  Is there an organization out there to provide money to people who are bullied for wearing the wrong clothes?  What about an organization to teach smart kids to act stupid in order to avoid being bullied for being “too smart”?  Do we really need to create a world where we force people to change to be more acceptable to the masses of asses?  (Why do I have that song by L7 running through my head?)  

Maybe my opinion here is being informed by personal experience.  I was bullied for more than five years in grade school.  I was in a Catholic school.  I have no idea why I was picked for bullying.  I had been popular in public school, but when my sister and I were moved to private school, the bullying began.  Did the other kids know that we weren’t as rich as them?  Did they mind that I didn’t care if they were my friends? (Even when I was popular, I still was a bit of a loner and was happy to have only a few friends…)  Did they resent the fact that I came in and went into the “A” group with the smart kids? (Aside – what educators really think it’s a good idea to have an “A” and “B” group with the smart kids being in the “A” group?  Why not just say, “Hey, you kids are stupid, so you’ll never get an “A” in your life, including the name of the classes you’re in!”) 

I also have what some might consider a physical deformity.  I consider it one.  I had severe acne and have fairly severe scarring now.  Do I consider plastic surgery at times to “correct” it?  Yes.  Do I ever get it?  No.  Why?  Because I don’t mind the scarring.  Sure, maybe I think I’d look better without it.  But it doesn’t interfere with my functioning, any more than this girl’s ears interfered with hers.  I do think that maybe I’d have more success with certain parts of my life with this problem “fixed,” but I know that to do so would be to give in to social pressure to conform to an image that isn’t me.  Why should I be forced to change who I am just to make other people happy?

I’d like to close this with something my father taught me many, many years ago.  Probably the best advice he’s ever given me.  Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

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