A petition has been launched to stop Apple, Google and Amazon from allowing plastic surgery apps that allow kids to do nose jobs, liposuction and lip enhancements on animated characters.
Psychotherapist and body image specialist Holli Rubin has recently launched the petition after a number of plastic surgery games were found in app stores, targeting young girls with princess characters and fairytale plot lines, such as the Princess Plastic Surgery.
The app aims to fix the curse that the evil witch cast on the princess that made her look ugly. Its main image shows a blonde princess with large lips, crying as a needle is held to her cheek. The game preview says: “Don’t miss the chance to become a professional plastic surgery doctor! Making fantastic surgery and give what princesses dream of. Face, nose, eyes, lip, make any plastic surgery that you can imagine! Break the curse and help them become more beautiful!”
Ms Rubin said she knew what it was like to have body image issues after being left with a scar due to an accident when she was a child. “As a five-year-old little girl I was worried about how I would look and how others would see me,” she said in the petition.
She added that it wasn’t until her mother told her to stop putting herself down that she started to accept herself. “As hard as it was, I learned to listen to my mother’s words to ‘stop putting myself under a magnifying glass’. This helped me to accept my scar and it being a part of me. Had it been surgically removed, I would not have had to go through that journey to learn to like how I looked, with or without it,” she said.
Ms Rubin believed these apps would be damaging to the mental health of young girls.
“It is one thing to play with your looks “” to have a haircut, get your ears pierced or try a new shade of lipstick, but altering appearance through something as permanent as plastic surgery is serious business.
“Children playing on these apps minimises that seriousness, and actually condones surgery by inadvertently and unconsciously sending the message that faces and body parts are meant to be changed, and can be, simply and easily.
“I think I speak for many parents when I say that our children should not see plastic surgery as a game,” she said.
More than 19,600 people have now signed the petition.
Meanwhile, a study by the National Eating Disorder Association in the US revealed that 81 per cent of 10-year-old girls were worried about being fat.
Australian parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson agreed and told news.com.au that kids didn’t need smartphones, they needed smart parents.
“Smart parents keep kids away from this stuff. We have excellent evidence from a variety of studies over the past several decades that indicate a focus on fashion, appearance and other skin deep issues leads to stress, anxiety, depression and decreased wellbeing. It’s not harmless fun. This stuff gets in our kids’ heads and affects the way they see themselves in really negative ways. It normalises behaviour that is risky and not associated with wellbeing,” he said.
News.com.au has contacted Google, Apple and Amazon for comment.