I’m sure many of you have heard of the story buzzing around the Internet and making the rounds on TV news stations about Nadia Ilse, a 14 year girl who was bullied about her large ears. There has been much controversy about this topic regarding the message it sends about self-acceptance and I thought I’d take a moment to discuss it a little.
|Nadia Before and after Plastic Surgery
As a brief backstory, Nadia was teased and bullied so much in school about her ears to the point that she did not have the confidence to look at herself in the mirror, wear her hair down, attend her classes or be social. Children called her the typical names such as ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Elephant Ears’ which led to such torment that she frequently cried on her way home from school and before going to sleep. Things got so bad that she even contemplated suicide!
After years of keeping her worries to herself for fear of burdening her mother who also has a mentally challenged son, she finally spoke up and let her mother know the difficulties she was experiencing. Together they found a solution in the Little Baby Face Foundation which provides corrective surgery to children with facial deformities free of charge. Nadia received ortoplasty (ear-pinning surgery), rhinoplasty (nose surgery) and mentoplasty (chin surgery) through the organization totalling a worth of $40,000!
Many critics have bashed Nadia, her parents and the foundation for indulging in such drastic measures and expense for a girl who has not yet finished growing into her features and possibly not mentally mature enough to accept herself as she is. Thefoundation’s main targets are children with birth defects like cleft palettes, facial palsy and other extreme deformities. Some could argue that Nadia just happened to be born with large ears.
These concerns are certainly valid but if we examine the difference this surgery has made in this girl’s life, can that really be discounted?
In Western society and definitely in other places in the world, we alter many of our features to help us feel better about ourselves and fit in with our communities. How many of us have had braces, teeth whitening and harsh acne medications? We can even go so far as to even include waxing, eyebrow plucking, hair straightening or dyeing, ear-piercing and of course our beloved makeup. All these are modifications to our bodies and all perfectly acceptable even at an age as young and tender as Nadia’s.
Where do we cross the line from acceptable behaviour to the world of taboo when a superficial modification can help a teenager get through possibly the most difficult years of her scholastic career and possibly save her life?
I’m sure many of us have been teased at some point in our lives and suffered some blow to our self esteem. Many have grown out of it and learned lessons along the way – but how much more confident and possibly successful could we be if hurtful experiences like those could have been avoided?
Nadia has already suffered irreversible psychological damage due to the excessive bullying and is currently in therapy to help her through the effect or non-effect the surgery will have on her psyche. She understands that only an outward issue was addressed and she needs to work on self-acceptance now because this is no guarantee that the teasing will stop. At least she now has enough courage to look in the mirror and actually like what she sees with no regrets.
You can watch the interview.
What’s your two cents? Do you think Nadia was too young for a procedure like this?