Adolescents in the U.S. are considering plastic surgery at earlier ages than past generations, according to a survey released by InSites Consulting in June.
The results of the survey from the international marketing company showed 15 percent of U.S. youth and young adults consider plastic surgery, and 9 out of 10 girls would like to change something about their body.
Further results indicate that more than 88 percent of girls and 73 percent of boys between ages 15 and 25 would change something about themselves if it could be easily done.
Senior psychology major Sabrina Gonzales said many factors contribute to the narcissistic obsession of today’s youth.
“These often extraordinarily and unhealthily thin bodies of photoshopped beauties are not relatable and do not reflect the majority of any country, but bombard citizens from billboards, the Internet, television, and products in grocery stores,” Gonzales said. “At the same time, the rise of the obesity epidemic has also fueled the obsession with being thin instead of simply being healthy.”
Because children are still growing, considering plastic surgery at such a young age implies youth are really dissatisfied with their bodies before they have physically matured, she said.
No matter the cause, scientists often refer to youth in the current generation as highly narcissistic, said Joeri Van den Bergh, Generation Y expert at InSites Consulting, following the survey.
Junior human development major Kimberly Clark said the severity of the statistics is to be expected and the media is the cause.
“You cannot go anywhere in the world today without seeing advertisements, magazines, newspapers, TV shows and/or movies that ‘sexify’ and slim down the expected portrayal of a human being.”
Media misrepresents the true value and meaning of beauty, she said.
“Many people believe that being naturally beautiful is a blessing,” she said. “But today, I think people don't understand what that means. Having the perfect hair and makeup, keeping up with expensive clothing trends, and keeping slim and trim are what I believe people are confusing with natural beauty.”
The only feasible solution is to adjust how media portrays men and women, she said, but that solution also seems impossible.
What these youth are dissatisfied with depends on their sex, according to the survey.
Forty-six percent of teenage girls said they were unhappy with their stomach. Other body parts of contention were thighs, bottoms and breasts, which scored 29 percent, 19 percent and 18 percent dissatisfaction respectively.
Boys showed stronger feelings toward their stomach and muscles — 18 percent were dissatisfied in those areas. And 14 percent of boys were dissatisfied with their chest, mouth and cheeks.
“We are expected to be tall, in prime physical condition and very attractive,” Clark said. “The fact of the matter is that hardly anyone is born that way without having to change themselves drastically. The idea is to search within yourself and find those beautiful qualities that each and every person has and to show those traits to the world. Because that is what is really beautiful—being yourself.”