I recently read an interesting Huffington Post blog by lawyer and mother Devon Corneal entitled, “Pretty is as Pretty Does.” In it, Ms. Corneal recounts a story of 14-year old Nadia Ilse who, from age 10, was bullied at school because of her protruding ears. She considered suicide and in an effort to save her daughter, Nadia’s mother agreed to her request for plastic surgery to “fix” her ears. Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity that offers free plastic surgery to fix “deformities” in children, offered to provide the surgery for free. According to Ms. Corneal’s account, the mother “also let the doctor throw in a nose job and chin reconstruction as a kicker.” Nadia is said to now feel beautiful. She is happy and the results are exactly as she wanted them. By the way, here are Nadia’s pre- and post- surgery photos (courtesy of Huffington Post).
Problem solved? Well, yes and no. Is it great that this young lady, who once contemplated suicide, now has positive self-image after having had free plastic surgery? I have mixed emotions. How did she feel about her ears before the teasing began? Bullying has run rampant…but weren’t we all bullied at some point in life? As a child, I was teased about wearing glasses. Did it hurt? Yes. Did it crush my spirit? NO. Don’t misunderstand; I am not criticizing Nadia or any other young person who has been bullied. Clearly bullying has taken a drastic shift from being teased in the cafeteria or on the school bus. Social media, and the proliferation of weapons in school, have given bullying a louder and more resounding voice. What is going to help? How are our girls going to not feel self-conscious about their ears, or their nose, or their hair? Like anything else, it starts at HOME. Every day, I look at my daughter and tell her she is beautiful. At only four years old, she already understands that her thick natural hair is part of God’s masterpiece and that she should never be ashamed of its kinks and curls. When the bullies come, she will have an arsenal of retorts for any situation!
Yes, I talk about beauty and makeup on my blog, This and That With Calandra. Yes, I do makeup tutorials on YouTube and host makeup parties. And yes, I wear makeup daily. Am I a hypocrite? Absolutely not! Makeup is an accessory, not a necessity. When I do makeup shows, the first words out of my mouth are, “If you can’t be happy in the skin you’re in, without makeup, then this is NOT the party for you!” It’s past time for us to teach our daughters that true beauty comes from within. And while we’re at it, let’s teach our sons the same lesson so they will grow to not add to the pressure many of our teen girls are under.
It’s no secret that the media and the beauty industry share the blame in creating a misguided perception of beauty. But like many of our social ills, much of the solution can be found in sending positive messages to our children as they are growing up. We can’t wait until they are pre-teens and teens to start teaching the lessons of beauty and self-esteem.