Teenagers who are affected by bullying in any way — whether by being bullied or by being the bully — have a greater desire to have plastic surgery, according to a new study at the University of Warwick in England.
The findings show that bullies want to have plastic surgery to improve their appearance and increase their social status, while victims of bullying want to go under the knife because their mental health is affected by being picked on giving them lower self-esteem, more emotional problems, and a desire to change their appearance.
Researchers from the Department of Psychology and Warwick Medical School screened nearly 2,800 adolescents aged 11 to 16 in UK secondary schools for their involvement in bullying, both through self and peer assessment.
A sample group of around 800 students — including bullies, victims, those who both bully and are bullied, and those who are unaffected by bullying — was analyzed for emotional problems, levels of self-esteem and body-esteem, and how much they desired to have plastic surgery.
The findings revealed that the teens involved in bullying in any role were more interested in cosmetic surgery, compared to those not involved in bullying. Desire for cosmetic surgery was highest among victims of bullying, but was also increased in bullying perpetrators.
The study showed that 11.5 percent of bullying victims have an extreme desire to have cosmetic surgery, as well as 3.4 percent of bullies, and 8.8 percent of teenagers who both bully and are bullied — this is compared with less than one percent of those who are unaffected by bullying.
Girls have more desire for plastic surgery than boys. Of the sample group, 7.3 percent of the girls had an extreme wish to have plastic surgery, compared with two percent of boys.
The authors say that young people might have less of a desire for plastic surgery if their mental health issues due to bullying are addressed. They suggest that cosmetic surgeons screen potential patients for a history of bullying, and any related mental health issues.
“Being victimized by peers resulted in poor psychological functioning, which increased desire for cosmetic surgery. For bullies, cosmetic surgery may simply be another tactic to increase social status […] to look good and achieve dominance,” said Professor Dieter Wolke and co-authors.
“The desire for cosmetic surgery in bullied adolescents is immediate and long-lasting. Our results suggest that cosmetic surgeons should screen candidates for psychological vulnerability and history of bullying.”
The study, titled “Adolescent Desire for Cosmetic Surgery: Associations with Bullying and Psychological Functioning,” is published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Source: University of Warwick