For the past several days, I have been on the longest road trip for me so far, driving through several states on the way to DC for what I expect to be an exciting and challenging semester. Such a trip certainly requires hours spent driving and the calmness of the middle-of-nowhere scenery allows me to work my brain and think about some issues that have come to my attention lately.
For example, recently in the mainstream news outlets there have been several stories on teens resorting to plastic surgery to escape bullying. Well, that’s just the sort of thing to get me riled up and made me stand on my soap box.
I understand (and know from personal experience) how cruel bullies can be. They are experts at making others feel bad and completely despise everything and anything that makes them unique, that makes them who they are and separates them from the rest. The role of bullies is to ensure that everyone around them is miserable, just as much as they are, with the hope that this will help them be superior in some way.
Even though a person could potentially be bullied about anything, it is particularly disheartening to see the established notions of beauty providing fodder to emerging bullies in schools and at the same time contributing to the low self-esteem of those bullied. Somehow, the little imperfections that make us who we are and distinguish us from others become signs of “ugliness” and deviations from what is deemed beautiful. Instead of accepting them as examples of how unique and diverse the human race is and absolutely loving them, we are constantly told through various outlets that we need to “take care of them,” and polish them, and make them more acceptable. Is it surprising then that many teen girls resort to plastic surgery to fit that mold of being beautiful? Again, that reminds me of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies. I truly hope I never have to live in a world where every sixteen-year-old undergoes surgery to make her/him perfect and beautiful. What a boring, full of sameness world that would be.
One of the reports I read mentioned that following the plastic surgery, the young girl no longer experienced the same level of bullying. It never said that the bullying stopped. It appears that in today’s schools, one is either the bullied or the bully. And a bully will always be able to find reasons to bully, no matter how many surgeries one undergoes. To stand up against bullies, we should not encourage plastic surgery among teens; rather, we should emphasize the importance of uniqueness and being different and demanding that the media stop brainwashing women (and men) by plastering unrealistic images of some ultimate beauty or perfection.
And just for the record, I have no intention of fixing my imperfect teeth.