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Cut It Out

by A'ine McCarthy

Girl smiling in mirror

You see it all the time. Girls struggle every day with the message that they’re only beautiful if their bodies fit the narrow image the media says is “perfect.” Seventy-five percent of girls say they would like surgery to change their bodies to look more like the girls and women they see in magazines, in movies, and on TV.

Most people have surgery to stay healthy. But people have plastic surgery, or cosmetic surgery, just to change how they look. Plastic surgery can help accident victims look like they did before the accidents. But healthy people get plastic surgery because they aren’t happy with the way their bodies or faces look naturally. In 1998, almost 25,000 girls under eighteen had plastic surgery in the U.S., and that number keeps rising.

Most teenage girls who have plastic surgery want to change the shape of their noses or have fat removed from their bodies, even though it’s natural to have a healthy layer of fat beneath your skin. Other girls want to have sacks of gel, known as implants, sewn into their breasts to make them larger. These surgeries cost between $2,000 and $9,000. That’s enough money for a car or a vacation!

Plastic surgery may seem like a good way to raise a girl’s self-esteem, but it’s dangerous. Reshaping the nose can leave it swollen for up to a year. Breast implants can explode or leak inside a girl’s body, which means she has to have another surgery to take the implants out. And liposuction, the surgical vacuuming of fat from underneath the skin, sends patients into shock if they lose too much blood. Even successful liposuction won’t keep you thin forever. It’s much better to exercise and eat a healthy diet, which will keep you looking healthy and feeling good.

It can be hard to look at an image in a magazine and then compare it to your own body, but remember that those magazines target our insecurities to get us to buy something or do something to feel “beautiful.” You don’t need to dish out the money for anything, including surgery, to be beautiful. All you have to do is be yourself. 

Does plastic surgery gross you out? Help stop negative messages that can lead girls to go under the knife:

  1. Pick up a magazine. Jot down notes about what the articles and advertisements say about how girls should be. Decide whether or not you agree with these messages. Share your discoveries with your friends.
  2. Write letters to compliment companies, authors, or movie directors when you like the way they portray girls and women. Write letters to complain when you don’t like the way they portray girls and women.
  3. When you hear people speaking badly about themselves or their bodies, remind them of the things that make them truly beautiful. 
  4. Most importantly, love yourself—there's only one you!  When you look in the mirror, smile, tell yourself you’re beautiful, and believe it!

© 2003 New Moon® Publishing, New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.

 

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This article is from New Moon  , a magazine written for girls by girls. Here is a complete list of the New Moon articles on girlshealth.gov.

Content last reviewed June 28, 2012
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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