teens

"I let my teenage daughter get lip fillers. And my reason does not make me a bad parent."

In most ways, Summer Wilson is just like any other 17-year-old. She’s studying her year 11 VCE, has a part time job at Woolies and is looking forward to her 18th birthday in five months time.

But unlike most girls her age, Summer has already undergone a cosmetic procedure. Just two months ago, with the permission and support of her mother, the Victorian teen had fillers injected into her top lip.

“I got them because I’ve always had a small top lip. It didn’t match with my bottom lip and I got quite self conscious about it,” she told Mamamia from her Mornington Peninsula home.

“It was about Year Nine that I really started to notice it.”

Summer got lip fillers two months ago. Image: supplied.

Two months on, Summer says the procedure has changed her life, that she's finally happy with the girl looking back at her in the mirror.

“Honestly, I feel so much better about myself, because I used to get little comments, like 'Summer, where's your top lip? Oh, you don't have one',” she said.

“And knowing that I actually do now, it's like people won't be thinking about it and judging me.”

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Summer Wilson always felt insecure about her top lip. Image: supplied.

Summer might be young, but she's certainly not alone. Australians are now spending over $1 billion on non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and demand for dermal fillers (generally used in the lips and cheeks) has increased by 25 per cent since 2014.

She's part of a growing number of young people driving that demand for a quick, non-invasive, non-permanent fix for their insecurities.

But while there's no clear legal guidance that says Australian teens can't receive cosmetic injectables, most practitioners won't administer them without the consent of a parent.

Cue Summer's mother, Lisa Wilson.

Summer and her mother Lisa. Image: supplied.

After years of discussion with her daughter about her lip-related woes, the primary school integration aide ultimately consented to fillers when Summer found a local cosmetic nurse willing to perform the procedure.

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“It's not a major, life-changing decision. It's a temporary thing, it's relatively non-invasive and [not having it done] was affecting her,” the 50-year-old told Mamamia.

“We've always had a really open relationship and I try to keep connected and in touch with what matters to my children. It wasn't a hard decision to make.”

After speaking with the practitioner and getting the approval from a doctor, Lisa figured there was no point delaying the inevitable.

“It was a pressing factor for Summer, with her self esteem,” she said. “It was making her not feel great about herself.”

Summer before and after. Image: supplied.

Of course, as a mother, Lisa was conflicted about the message permitting such a procedure would send her daughter about self-worth and superficiality.

“Initially when she brought it up, I just said, 'You're beautiful the way you are. You're perfect. You don't need that to feel good about yourself',” Lisa said.

“But I could understand that she felt that way. I didn't want to brush it off, when clearly it's something she felt was important.”

Family and friends have been equally supportive, and the pair say they're yet to encounter any backlash over the decision. Still, Lisa recognises that with this interview and an appearance on SBS program Insight tonight, that's likely to change.

“It's a very controversial topic. I think we'll definitely get people who think I'm a bad parent, a bad mother. Absolutely,” she said.

“But that's just ridiculous. This is our life. She's my child and I love her more than anything else in the world, and I'm making this decision based on a whole lot of things that I know about her.

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“I mean, we allow children to have braces to have better teeth, to look good. We allow children to dye or colour their hair to feel better about themselves. There's not a one-prong approach to having good self-esteem – it just helps support their journey.”

Summer and Lisa will talk about their decision on SBS's Insight program. Image: supplied.

While Summer says looking at young celebrities who've had injectables – like Kylie Jenner – definitely normalised the whole thing, it wasn't a major catalyst in her own desire to get them.

“It's not because I wanted to be like Kylie and have full, luxurious lips,” she said. “It's because I wanted to feel better about myself. It's nothing major. It looks very natural.”

Lisa says she understands her daughter's motivation for the decision. Her own thin lips prompted her to get fillers on one occasion. She also had botox 10 years ago, but she draws the line at invasive surgical procedures and hopes Summer will do the same.

“Look, I hope not. But I'm a parent who believes in letting [children] learn, letting them experience things, and just trying to guide them,” she said.

“I believe that if something bothers you that much and it really affects who you are, and you can do something to fix it, then I think it's something you have the right to explore.”

Summer and Lisa will appear on Insight: Picture Perfect tonight at 8:30pm AEST. Tune in to SBS or watch online.

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