Nadia Isle is 14 years old and has started the school year with a new-look nose, chin and ears.
After almost ten years of bullying and being called ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Elephant Ears’, she had $40,000 worth of plastic surgery thanks to the Little Baby Face Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides free corrective procedures to needy children with birth defects. Nadia’s surgery involved pinning back her ears, and having her nose and chin reshaped. As part of her treatment, she must also receive counselling to overcome the distress caused by years of bullying.
Nadia’s story is one that makes me feel so conflicted. Sure, plastic surgery for a 14 year old is extreme, but as a mother I also know that from the moment they are born you become hardwired with a primitive instinct to do anything in your power to protect your children.
The challenging part is balancing this instinct to protect with the equally important need to nurture resiliance. I don’t want to be a lawnmower parent who gets out the front and tries to clear the way for our kids. I don’t want to mow down all of life’s bumps for them.
While there is nothing black and white about Nadia’s story, I’m not convinced going under the knife is the answer. Yes, she has corrected her bilateral lop-ear deformities, but will that be enough to stop the mean girls? Probably not. And what is the lesson in this for Nadia? That we all need to look the same?
Growing up is hard. But so is life. It’s bloody tough out there.
What would you do if you child asked to go under the knife to change something that they were being bullied about?