by Paulina C '13

Are You Pretty?

“In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly”.  In the book Uglies, it is established that until 16, kids are repulsive looking. That is why when they turn 16 years old, instead of celebrating their birthday the teenagers get operations that turn them stunningly beautiful. Sound like a fantasy world? Not so fast. This popular teenage novel is not far from reality. A considerable part of the present generation of teenagers go to great extents to obtain better looks, that includs going under the knife of the surgeon. Today’s medical technology allow people to reach high standards of beauty but not without paying the price.
According to an article published during 2003 in the journal of American Medical Association a estimated 223,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on teens 18 years old or younger.  Procedures such as breast lifts, breast augmentation, nose reshaping, liposuction, and tummy tucks.  The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASPS) identified 174,851, in the year of 2005.
The most popular cosmetic surgery was rhinoplasty, better known as nose reshaping, followed by liposuction, or the removal or excess fat, and breast modification, either reduction or augmentation. But who pay for these procedures? The rhinoplasty goes for a $3,869 and a liposuction, for $2,578, a relatively low price if you consider that for most teens the procedure is a way to better their self-esteem. But not all procedures reach the thousands. The most popular cosmetic non-surgical procedures among teenagers in 2005 were laser hair removal and skin renewal.  A teenager can get this done for only $161, probably the savings from a month allowance.
Teenagers view plastic surgery as a way to fit in and perfect themselves.  They want to look presentable in front of their friends and classmates.  Another reason teenagers go to these extreme measures are to be more comfortable with themselves.  There is no doubt that these surgical procedures help give a boost of self-confidence to the patients, however the idea of going under the knife just to have self-confidence and be comfortable with themselves is nerve racking.  Learning to accept yourself for who you are and be happy with that, is a virtue for many teens and it is not a common feature among them.
As good as all of this might sound, perfecting the body comes with a risk, which can be presumed that today’s teenagers don’t take into consideration.  Complications can occur and changing a “flaw” can simply make it worse.  According to, the number of deaths or complications caused from cosmetic surgery has indeed gone down, however there is still a chance of complications happening.
Reasons as to why these youngsters go under the knife for perfection can vary.  Everyday sights and comments can drive one to the surgical office.  According, comments made by classmates, friends, or even teachers can make a teen go to drastic measures to change that flaw.  The hurtful remarks made by peers take a great toll of affect on a person, thus steering them to any option that will remove the comment starter.  Everyday sights may also be a cause of the increasing popularity of cosmetic surgery with teenagers.  Magazines such as People, OK!, etc. show pictures of teenaged celebrity’s with flawless skin and a perfect hair and body.  When most teenagers see those photos a thought crosses their mind, why don’t I look like that?  After seeing perfection, teenagers also want to achieve that high standard of beauty.  However, what most teenagers don’t know is that most of the pictures that are shown in magazines are changed and enhanced.  According to, in 2003 the Febuary cover for a British GQ was discovered to be an enhanced photo that made actress Kate Winslet look taller and thinner.  On the cover she appeared to be 6 feet tall, however in reality she is 5’6”.  The most enraging part of all is that the caption at the bottom of the photo states that Kate looks sexier than ever.  The photographers are implying that you are pretty when you are skinnier.  What would this message say to teenagers insecure with their appearance?
Altering or changing your appearance is controversial. Cosmetic surgery is risky, pricey, and many, many times, unneeded.  Teenagers need to be able to look in the mirror and say, “I am pretty and perfect”.  Everyone is special and there is no need to change unless a flaw represents a hazard to your health.

By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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