How Far Would You Go to Protect Your Child from Bullies?

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?


Image: The Age
5 Comments » | posted on by | posted in BEAUTY,LIFESTYLE | tags: ,,
  • awesome post…. as my little guy of all people is going through bullying. It is nothing to do with appearance, this other child is the down right bully that pushes all the other kids around to try and get attention. Although it is stopping my little guy from wanting to go to kindy….. UNTIL big mumma steps in and explains to Taj about the fact that this kid will have no friends in the end, as no one will want to play with him. I teach my children that they should play with everyone. They should accept people for what they look like, and how many friends they do or don’t have. However, in this case I told Taj he did not have to play with this child.

    How far would I go if my child was teased for their “looks” I am not 100% sure. I believe I would need to be the parent to know the full answer, and for me to act on instinct. I do not believe this mother made the wrong decision. I believe she made the right decision for her daughter, and for herself as a parent protecting her child. It would break my heart if my child was bullied for the way they looked. It is hard to judge too as this mother may have had the big talk to her daughter already about the fact it does not matter how she looks.

    You are right… the mean kids, they are out there anyway. I am learning that at the age of 3 they too exist.


  • Wow. I don’t know what to say – I agree with you and can’t imagine letting my child do this BUT I also think that the American culture is different & the rate of child suicide is crazy high so if it was a choice between my child seriously or even fatally harming themselves OR cosmetic surgery such as this, I would choose the latter. Full on though!!

  • kl

    A really interesting dilema. Whilst I would have no hesitation in having any physical deformity corrected surgically if required, the slight curve of this girls nose and the shape of her chin were what made her unique and the creation of cookie cutter perfection seems unnecessary. Many top models have aysymetrical facial features that are different to the norm and hence have made them uniquelly beautiful. I don’t think Bullying can be ‘solved’ this easily. Both the bully and the victim appear to require additional social skills which surgery cannot supply. x KL

  • Hmmm. 14 is that age where everyone hates how they look. As a parent I understand kids wanting to fit in and trying to protect them, but the message this send worries me even more than her getting bullied. Personally I think that this is avoiding the issue. Bullying wont stop just because someones looks change. The kids will go after something else and what than? I’m curious to see what this little girl thinks in 20 years about getting this surgery.

  • We don’t know the extent of the bullying, and I can imagine some extreme scenarios when I think corrective surgery would be in order, but I also find it hard to believe there weren’t less invasive avenues available to rectify the situation. Couldn’t the school have intervened? Could she have switched schools? Could she have gone to therapy to learn some healthy ways of responding and coping?

    If she was being teased about her ears, then why did she also have surgery on her nose and chin? Why did she also have her eyebrows waxed and her hair highlighted? She was not an ugly girl beforehand, so I’m wondering if maybe some typical juvenile name calling (which is still not acceptable, don’t get me wrong) was mislabeled bullying, the buzzword of the day. Without knowing the full story, it seems like maybe the parents were too eager to have their daughter’s appearance altered.