Cosmetic Education

By Christine Cupaiuolo — September 12, 2006

Plastic surgery and education don’t go together. And it’s about time we said that out loud. One is about image and superficiality, the other — in its ideal form — is about critical thinking and depth.

But you wouldn’t know it from reading Mary Schmich’s glowing column about a “Health, Wellness & Beauty” event hosted by Dr. Steven Dayan, a popular Chicago plastic surgeon who, when not throwing “Girls Night Out” Botox parties, spends time in the city’s public schools showing kids how to give an orange an extreme makeover.

“For $20,” writes Schmich, “in the grand ballroom of the Chicago Ritz-Carlton on Sept. 28, I could get two cocktails and see live Botox treatments. Could use the latest technology to see what I’d look like after a face-lift. Learn which cosmetic fillers allow celebrities to fake their age. Discover which size and shape of breast implants are most appealing. And do it all for the children.”

It’s called — no joke — “Enhanceopoly.” Dayan formed a nonprofit organization, Enhance Foundation, and is going to dedicate the money raised during the event to a college scholarship fund.

Which is, of course, a nice idea. But some very important issues are glossed over.

With her light-hearted tone and admit-it-we-all-want-plastic-surgery attitude, neither Schmich nor Dayan touch upon the tragic consequences of our society’s obsession with a very particular body image — especially for young girls. And Schmich, whose writing I usually admire, never interviews any teachers who might actually be discussing more positive, accepting and healthy ways of engaging with the world.

Plus: Over at Feministing, Jessica points readers to this Herald Sun (AU) story about padded bras that are being marketed to girls as young as 6 years old.

The Bratz “Bralettes” (yes, that Bratz) are allegedly designed to help girls who want to be discrete about their development. “It is more about hiding what you have got than showing it off. It is certainly not there to make children look like they have breasts,” said a spokeswoman for Bratz distributor Funtastic.

Commenters at Feministing aren’t buying it. Their nuanced discussion touches on everything from sexualizing young girls to gender roles and dress-up. The main complaint is that Bratz thinks padded bras should be on a second grader’s back-to-school shopping list — proving you’re never too young to wonder if enhancements are needed.

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