Nadia Ilse is 14 years old. For years she’s been called “Dumbo Ears” by the kids at school because of the way her ears stick out from her head.
Earlier this year, she underwent $40,000 worth of plastic surgery to make the bullying stop. She had an otoplasty – an operation to pin her ears back – and she also had a rhinoplasty (to reduce the size of her nose) and a mentoplasty (which altered the shape of her chin).
The surgery was paid for by the Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity that “transforms the lives of children born with facial deformities through corrective surgery”. They flew Nadia and her mother from their hometown of Georgia to New York City where she had the operation.
After the surgery, Nadia said she felt better about herself emotionally and physically. “I feel beautiful, I feel better about myself,” she said.
Take a look at the video:
This week after she went back to school and faced her bullies for the first time since the operation, Nadia said: “A lot of people said that I looked different and that I was really beautiful, I’m excited about that… I believe in forgiveness, but I will never forget the times that they did that, the times they made fun of me, and the times they hurt me. You have to make them earn it.”
Since the surgery, Nadia has become a bit of a poster girl for the charity. But her surgeries have also brought about the question of whether plastic surgery is the best method to reduced the instance of bulling in schools – and more generally in society. And to what extent it should be allowed for young people, whose bodies haven’t finished developing yet.
The charity’s founder Dr Thomas Romo – who is also the man who performed Nadia’s surgery – says he’s just doing his part to help kids who are being bullied. This from The Age:
”Did I cure everything in her life? Was I the only thing she needed? Of course not,” said Dr Thomas Romo, founder of the foundation. ”But I did my part.”
During an on-camera interview, Dr Romo can be heard telling Nadia: ”I love thin chins but I don’t want them as pointy as [your] chin.” He also tells the teen her nose is crooked.
To people who might decry such surgery, his message is blunt: ”Screw you. You don’t have to do it on your child, but don’t tell someone else they can’t help a kid feel better about themselves. I’m happy that I can provide this.”
But Nadia’s surgery also has its critics with some saying surgery is not going to end bullying and that the practice sends the wrong message to kids. This from The Huffington Post:
Vivian Diller, a psychologist and author of “Face It,” questions whether plastic surgery is the right thing to do in bullying situations She wrote last month: “A solution to bullying that involves surgical procedures (which have their own set of physical risks that few talk about) is a terrible message to give both bullies and their victims.
Do we really think that changing physical features undoes the emotional damage created by being teased? And aren’t we validating the very message behind bullies’ actions, that diversity and variation is bad? We need to be encouraging young people to admire and embrace differences — and that starts from an early age.”
What do you think of plastic surgery as a solution to bullying?