Plastic Surgery Is A Lousy Response To Bullying

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womanThe start of a new school year is fast approaching, which sadly means a whole new year of bullying for many kids out there. But Nadia Ilse, who’s been called “Dumbo” for years now because of her “elephant ears,” isn’t worried. That’s because the 14-year-old Georgia girl has just endured $40,000 worth of plastic surgery, including having her ears pinned back. That ought to teach those mean kids a lesson!

In case you didn’t sense it, I’m being sarcastic. I actually feel horribly for Ilse, who has been taunted non-stop by her peers, but I don’t think that plastic surgery is the answer. To me, it means the bullies have won. Let’s remember that Ilse is just 14 years old, and going under the knife is a big deal no matter what age you happen to be. I’m not against plastic surgery, but is a 14-year-old mature enough to make such a life-altering decision?

According to reports, Ilse begged her mom for an otoplasty – an operation to pin back her ears – starting at age 10. So her mom contacted the Little Baby Face Foundation, a New York-based charity that provides free corrective surgery to children born with facial deformities. Her wish was granted – and then some. Dr. Thomas Romo, III, the organization’s founder, also performed rhinoplasty (a nose job) and mentoplasty (a chin job).

Yeah, I had to do a double-take when I read that. The truth is, I viewed the “before” pictures of Ilse, and she looks perfectly fine to me. Her ears stick out, sure, but it hardly looks like a “facial deformity.” As for her nose and chin? Pretty typical, if you ask me. Obviously Ilse didn’t like them, and I’m not judging her for that. But I don’t understand why her parents and surgeon felt it necessary to give her an entire makeover at age 14.

Ilse’s surgery comes almost one year after Nicolette Taylor, a 13-year-old New Yorker, had a nose job in response to bullying. And last April, 7-year-old Samantha Shaw from South Dakota had her ears pinned back, just like Ilse, as a “preventative measure” to bullying. (Uh, okay.)

The truth is, I’m torn on the subject in many ways. I can’t imagine how Ilse must’ve felt after all those years of being bullied, and so who am I to judge her for going under the knife? She says she feels “beautiful” now, which is heartwarming and will no doubt have a huge impact on her confidence levels and how she sees herself. The part I can’t wrap my head around, however, is that she had way more work done than necessary, especially at such a young age.

(Photo: Masson/Shutterstock)


  1. kate

    July 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    the ears were pretty bad, i get that and can understand why she wanted them done, but i agree there was nothing wrong with the kids nose or chin. my nose is slightly lopsided, but i always thought it was cute…if i were 14 now instead of 18 years ago, i wonder if i would have founded in imperfect and in need of correction instead?

  2. Rachael

    July 31, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Frankly, it’s between her, her parents, and her doctor. She’s not responsible for “teaching those mean kids a lesson”.

  3. meteor_echo

    July 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I understand why she did it. Throughout my whole school experience, I’ve been called Dumbo as well, and mocked for my face. It hurt immensely, and then the feeling of unattractiveness simply stuck to me. Now I’m 24, and have EDNOS and body dysmorphic disorder… and, frankly, I wish my parents had listened to me and tried to find a surgeon to fix my ears and face back then – I’d have way less problems as an adult.
    She’s mature enough to make such a decision, because, no matter how old you are, the pain from bullying is a horrible, clingy thing, and, the sooner you find a way to cut it off, the easier it’ll be later. I found it out as a kid, and carried the opinion with me into adulthood.

  4. Ollie_Cat

    July 31, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I think she was beautiful before and after, though she was justified in getting her ears done, I would have wanted to, also. If the nose was affecting her breathing as she mentioned, fine, have it fixed too. However, I thought her little pointy chin was so cute! Only me?

  5. Luna Panics at The Disco

    August 1, 2012 at 5:54 am

    That’s so sad. Peer pressure really is a serious issue….

  6. GD Ford

    August 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    If it is in a parents power to give their child more confidence throughout their life by fixing a deformity then I say thank God for it!

  7. Lisa

    August 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Maybe you would have a different attitude if it was your child was bullied.

  8. roxy

    October 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I was bullied a lot. I ignored it and have high confidence. I think people often play victim too much. Ears maybe. Nose and chin is just giving in. – 18yo

  9. Dorri Olds

    December 18, 2013 at 4:54 am

    People comment on things they don’t fully understand. Nadia Ilse was born with hemifacial microsomia, a condition that makes the bones of the face grow asymmetrically. It worsens with age. She also had a deviated septum. The TV show edited things in such a way as to stir people up and create this sort of debate. The Little Baby Face Foundation helped her because she had facial birth defects. Not just because she was bullied. That may have been the reason the mother sought help but the foundation does not just treat bullied kids for the sake of giving in to the bullies. The foundation was established to treat congenital birth defects in children who can’t afford surgery. The doctors donate their time. It’s an amazing organization.

  10. Rachel

    February 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Whether you feel it is wrong or not, these children getting these operations felt insecure about themselves. “Fat Shaming” is seen as practically a crime and you are shaming these children for trying to change themselves to feel more confident. Nadia suffered from a deviated septum; that was the cause for the rhinoplasty. For parents to be proactive in ear pinning surgeries, many children are thankful for their parents’ decisions. Peers always have been and always will be cruel. If plastic surgeons can make one child cry less in their lifetime, it should be considered a victory.

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