Plastic Surgery App for Kids: We're Not Buying It

Our over exposure to shocking and inappropriate stories in the media and online, makes it easy to become desensitized- so much so that their images rarely shock me anymore. 

What I saw yesterday was an exception.  I was outraged when I received an email from Endangered Bodies New York, a worldwide activist group of which Realize Your Beauty is part.
The email was a call to action for an app that has been recently released.  A “Plastic Surgery App” recommended for ages 9 and up and targeted towards children.
Even as I write this now, I struggle to find the words to describe how abhorrent, inappropriate and outright dangerous this app is.
The title of the app is “Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie version”, it was available on iTunes.
The description of the app read (trigger warning): “This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We’ll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her, doctor?”
The extreme nature of this app made it clear that action was required immediately.  As activist all around the world banded together to spread news of this “game” for children- word began to spread.  There were emails sent around formulating a plan of action.  People volunteered to start petitions, we all took to twitter and email and bombarded iTunes with messages voicing our concern- demanding the app be removed from the site.
As the day drew to a close, we had word that iTunes had indeed removed the app, and it was no longer searchable or downloadable from their site.
When you work in a field that requires activism, every day there is a ‘call to action’ to be made. Some post or some media story that we are called to stand up against or spread the word about.  If you’re lucky, you slowly see changes being made. However, some days it can feel like an uphill battle.
Yesterday however, something very inspiring took place.  Rarely have I felt a more united front and had more tangible proof that our voices are making a difference.
We are fighting for a world where children grow up learning to love and respect themselves and their bodies.  More than this: a world where we all love and respect our bodies.  I went to bed last night with renewed sense of hope- that we are not fighting a losing battle.  That the work we are doing can indeed make a difference.  Change can happen. 
I woke up this morning to find that this was not one app, as we had understood yesterday, but it seems a series of apps.  It appears as of the time I’m writing this blog that one final plastic surgery ‘game’ aimed at children remains for download in the Apple store. 
And so we begin again- and I have full confidence that we will be successful in having this dangerous app removed.  Change is possible.

- Stacey Lorin Merkl
Founder & Executive Director
Realize Your Beauty, Inc.
For more information, please reference the following articles:

Plastic surgery app for nine-year-olds sparks outrage on Twitter: The Guardian

Plastic surgery app for nine-year-olds sparks outrage online: The Independent

Leave a comment