September 13th, 2015, Dateline NBC ran a story about four teenagers all suffering from the effects of bullying. Two girls, two boys, each had issues with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. They all became quite reserved and self-conscious about their physical appearance. Their parents could not talk them out of this gloomy world. A solution needed to be found.
The solution became the main topic of the program. An organization in New York City offers young people the opportunity to have cosmetic surgery to repair facial aberrations. Parents send in an application for their child to be chosen to have a surgery they could not otherwise afford. Doctors and consultants look over each application, which includes a personal letter and photographs of the applicant. If chosen for the program, the applicant is flown out to NYC to have the surgery at no cost to them.
The main focus of the program was not solving the problem of bullying, but how those who are bullied handle the problem. Does the solution of cosmetic surgery send the wrong message to teens? Should they try to face this particular problem by physically changing their appearance to, in theory, be accepted by peers? One mother noted, “People judge each other by your appearance…I want my daughter to be happy.”
Parents do want their children to be happy. However, encouraging children to change their appearance to gain someone else’s approval seems to be the wrong course of action. If a person is cruel enough to ridicule you as you are, they would not be a good friend to have to begin with. If a person can only treat you humanely under certain conditions, the shame is on them…not you.
The question that was not addressed was brought up by a high school student caught on film. She asked, “Why do people have to be so mean?” as she looked at her friend drown in his sorrows in the school cafeteria. He was the only one not selected to have cosmetic surgery. After swallowing his initial disappointment, he decided to start a program at his school that raises awareness about bullying. As the program grew, he gained friends along with improved self-confidence. He was surprised to find out how many students deal with similar problems.
Unfortunately, he was the only one that seemed to handle this problem correctly. We will always have difficult challenges in life and they all cannot be solved so quickly. Along this journey in life, we are supposed to learn certain lessons. If you do not learn a particular lesson the first time, it will come back around again until you get it right. The three teens that received the surgery will find out that all of their problems will not be resolved from the solution they have chosen.
Ultimately, no one wants to be judged, picked on, or ridiculed. Yet, how often do we do these things to each other? When will we finally treat others the way we want to be treated?