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Plastic surgery apps not just for young girls


Everyday Sexism project, Plastic Surgery App‘Games’ teach us that women must be thin to be beautiful.

Two mobile phone apps which encouraged children as young as nine to ‘operate’ on a cartoon ‘Barbie’ with scalpels and syringes have now been removed from the iTunes and Google Play stores.

The apps, called ‘Plastic Surgery’ and ‘Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie’ caused outrage on Twitter when the images were shared by The Everyday Sexism Project.

Campaigners encouraged people to tweet iTunes and Google Play with their thoughts on the apps, which showed a female cartoon character undergoing surgical procedures to become thinner and prettier.

“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,” went the spiel with the iTunes app.

After more than 4,000 retweets, both Apple and Google removed the offending apps from their stores.

Speaking to the Times, Laura Bates, from the Everyday Sexism Project said: “It’s hugely damaging that this app sends the message to girls as young as nine that being skinny is the holy grail, their looks are the only thing that matters and the only way to [become skinny] is plastic surgery.

“It just contributes to a culture that tells young girls that they need to change themselves to be acceptable to society.”

A quick search of the iTunes store and I can find 236 plastic surgery-related apps. Granted most of them are not aimed at children, but there are a few which are just too pink and fluffy to be targeting adults.

‘Celebrity Little Nose & Eye Face Doctor’ even claims to be a ‘plastic surgery makeover game for kids and girls’.

“What’s wrong with these celebrities?” it asks.

“Well, they need some help and some surgery!! Become a doctor and help these crazy fun celebs!!”

On the one hand we could be applauding the fact that this app is encouraging girls to ‘become a doctor’, but the disturbing reality – aside from the excessive use of exclamation marks – is that it is a)trivialising some very serious medical procedures and b)blatantly and unashamedly sexist (!!).

The app is free, but you can rack-up the in-app charges with some nice add-ons. Extras include botox for a bargain 69 pence and lip fillers or an eye lift at just £1.49 each.

What’s more, you have to buy the top celebs to operate on – Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Harry Styles and Lady Gaga are all available, placing this game’s target audience in the pre-teen demographic.

There are also a whole load of apps you can use to give yourself a nip or a tuck; just pick your favourite selfie and ‘enhance’ it with the Plastic Surgery Simulator (‘use it to simulate real plastic surgeries’ and ‘approve your appearance on social networks’) or iPlasticMe (‘The app distorts photos for beauty purposes such as plastic surgery, weight loss, muscle growth etc.’)

And then there are the apps that target specific parts of the body such as iAugment which, you guessed it, can give you bigger boobs at the shake of your phone.

These app makers are cashing in on a culture which places a woman’s worth solely on her appearance.

But it’s really no surprise.

Sexism is so ingrained in our society that it has become part of ‘normal’ life; from catcalling in the street to sexualised images popping up on your Facebook feed, most women have to ‘put up’ with low-level sexism every day of their lives.

They also have to put up with the constant pressure not just to look good, but to conform to society’s accepted ‘norms’ of what constitutes beauty; slim waist, big breasts and pert backside.

The incessant stream of media images depicting beautifully airbrushed women is having an affect on girls of a younger and younger age.

According to a major survey by Girl Guiding last year, 87 per cent of 11-21 year-olds think women are judged more for their looks than their ability, and three quarters think that boys expect girls to look like the images they see in the media.

One in five primary school aged girls admits to having been on a diet, and anyone who knows a 12-year old girl will know that she has been under pressure for at least the last five years of her life to be thin and pretty.

It shouldn’t be a huge shock therefore that these girls are lapping up apps that help them to conform to the beauty ideal that we’ve created; they’re on a constant diet of doctored and airbrushed images that are distorting their body image.

The question is, how do we stop it?

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