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Plastic Surgery...for a 7-Year-Old?

By Stephanie Guler - Senior Content & Social Media Developer | January 7th, 2012

Before the holidays, WhereismyDoctor reported a story about one of the most popular gifting trends of the season: plastic surgery.

While Botox, Juvederm, and more extreme procedures like the Mommy Makeover (which includes a breast lift and tummy tuck) might be great presents for an adult looking to rejuvenate their look, the same can’t be said for gifting cosmetic surgery to children.

You might be thinking this sounds absolutely ridiculous, and it is.

But, unfortunately, this actually happens; most notoriously with 7-year-old Poppy Burge, daughter to the self-proclaimed “Human Barbie”, plastic surgery fanatic Sarah Burge (both pictured above).

For Poppy, 2011’s holiday season wasn’t spent unwrapping fluffy stuffed animals, board games, or actual Barbie dolls; instead her mother placed a £7,000 voucher for liposuction in her stocking.

Apparently, this is exactly what the 7-year-old little girl had asked for.

Her mother, a 51-year-old UK-based woman with more than 100 cosmetic procedures under her belt (she’s reportedly spent more than $1,000,000 on her own surgeries), told the Daily Mail, “I put the voucher in her stocking – there’s nothing wrong with that. She asks for surgery all the time. She wants to look good and lipo is one of those procedures that will always come in handy. I see these vouchers as investing in her future – like saving money for her education.”

While Ms. Burge’s statements are no doubt shocking, this isn’t the first time the infamous British family has made headlines.

According to the Daily Mail, in 2010, the Burge’s made the papers when she revealed that she had been teaching her then 6-year-old daughter to pole dance. Last year, she also gave little Poppy a breast augmentation voucher worth £6,000 for her birthday.

In an interview last year with Closer Magazine, Ms. Burge said, “Poppy begged me for a boob job, so I gave her the voucher so she can have it after she’s 16, when it’s legal. If she develops naturally big boobs, she can have something else done with it.”

During the same interview, Poppy added, “I wanted a new computer, a holiday, and a voucher for surgery. When I got it all, it was a dream come true. All my friends were jealous. I can’t wait to be like Mummy with big boobs. They’re pretty.”

Obviously, to any sane person, there are many things wrong with this situation.

A mother obsessed with plastic surgery (perhaps with a bad case of body dysmorphic disorder, also known as BDD) emphasizes to Poppy and her other three young daughters that looks are everything.

It is disturbing to watch a 7-year-old girl, who isn’t even close to puberty, pine for plastic surgery, when she doesn’t even know what her body is going to look like in 15 years. It’s like her mother is teaching her that how she looks is wrong, and surgery is the only way to fix it; which is the perfect recipe for creating mental health issues like BDD and eating disorders on a young girl's misguided quest for "perfection".

It seems like little girls have it hard enough these days, especially when it comes to body image.

Over-photoshopped celebrity images and reality shows like “Toddlers &Tiaras” have created a distorted perception of what real beauty is, and this is sadly taking a toll on girls and women (and some men too) all over the world.

Shari Miles-Cohen, senior director of women’s programs for the American Psychological Association told ABC News in August, “We don’t want kids to grow up too fast. We want them to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age.”

And although Poppy Burge is clearly growing up too fast, stories like this give the plastic surgery industry a really bad reputation, because whether we like it or not, these elective procedures do benefit thousands of people every year.

Recovering breast cancer patients’ lives are transformed with breast reconstruction surgery, post-weight loss surgery patients are able to become comfortable in their bodies’ again with body contouring procedures, and even less invasive dermal filler injections can give an aging adult a little boost of self-confidence; but children should have no business thinking about appearance-altering surgical procedures at such a young age.

Dr. Ari Brown, mother to a 12-year-old girl and author of the book “Baby 411” told ABC News in September, “Childhood is a time to learn about the world, explore, pretend, imagine and create in a safe vacuum of innocence. Bypassing those critical life experiences and developmental stages by trying to dress, act and be treated like an adult leaves these children lacking important life skills that help them be confident and successful adults.”

Despite the harsh criticism, Ms. Burge seems to take it all in stride. It looks like she has no plans of changing her questionable style of parenting. In fact, she seems completely confident in her choices as a mother so far.

She told the Daily Mail, “Some people think it's controversial and I get angry when strangers say I'm a bad mother because I don't think there's any harm in giving her this gift. Poppy is a normal kid who is good at sports and loves playing outside. Girls don’t want Snow White and Cinderella anymore. They want to be WAGs [ a term for wives and girlfriends of famous footballers] and famous like Cheryl Cole and Lady Gaga. I’m just supporting her and making her dreams come true.”

Ms. Burge added, “Looks are a big part of how our futures pan out – there shouldn’t be a stigma around wanting to look good.”

While there’s nothing wrong with caring about appearance (everything in moderation!), it’s obvious nobody told Ms. Burge that being pretty can only get you so far; and this is especially unfortunate for young Poppy and her sisters.

To learn more about body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), contact a mental health doctor near you.

Image Courtesy of Closer Magazine

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