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May 1, 2012

Sadness for Today's Youth

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I feel incredibly sad for the young women and men of today.

There is just so much pressure to be 'pretty' and 'thin', and I wish there were some way I could tell them all they're all beautiful; every single one of them.

According to reports, the teens and preteens of our day are pretty insecure: using the UK as an example, 50% of those aged between 16 and 21 have thought about undergoing some kind of cosmetic surgery; more than one in 10 girls between the agest of 11 and 16 also think about surgery to change their appearance; worst of all, the average age for girls to begin dieting is eight.

When I was eight, my last thought was to try to limit my food intake.

One of the big problems these young children - because they are still children - are facing is the fact that they are bombarded with images of beautiful people all day long - photoshopped beauties that don't exist are their idols. Cosmetic surgery companies also advertise relentlessly in the UK, and we're perhaps lucky in South Africa that the extent of marketing is not too bad here. The aim of the advertising is to urge consideration of cosmetic procedures to help women to stop loathing their bodies, to aid them in their lack of self-confidence and their feelings of insecurities. However, I believe this industry is just tapping into the natural feelings of insecurity we all face, promising a quick fix to what is sometimes a completely psychological issue. The cosmetic surgery industry is taking advantage of people who have body issues by manipulating them with marketing, and that marketing does not nearly reveal everything that goes on in the industry, even to the point of "normalising" cosmetic surgery, and making it a "normal" part of life, when it really is not.

Don't get me wrong; there are times when cosmetic surgery is very important: girls who grow up to have massive breasts have breast augmentation for relief; the issue is that there is a time and place for these surgeries, and I don't believe that adolescence and pre-adolescence is one of them.

{Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Victor Habbick}

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