The illustrated children’s book, written by plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer, features a mother explaining to her daughter why she is having cosmetic surgery (a nose job, tummy tuck, and breast enhancements).
Before her surgery the mom explains why she is getting a smaller tummy, saying,
“You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better.”
The plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael helps the Mom come home with nice new parts, which she reassures her daughter are not “different, my dear—prettier!”
The book does not seem to address why the Mom needs a nose job, and simply does not discuss the breast implants in the text, although the pictures illustrate the change.
Here is a valid opinion from the Newsweek article:
Child psychiatrist Elizabeth Berger, author of “Raising Kids With Character,” likes the idea of a book for kids. “If the mother is determined to pursue cosmetic surgery, I think it’s terribly important to discuss it with the child,” Berger says. But she says the book is incomplete. She wishes that the mom had just said something like, “This is silly, but I really want it anyway,” she says. “That is more honest and more helpful to the child.”
Berger doesn’t want to come across as anti-cosmetic surgery, but she notes that it can be difficult for small kids to understand. “The younger the child, the more mysterious and potentially hurtful the mother’s absence, or mother being out of commission, or mother looking like she’s been beaten up, will be,” she says. Small children are “concrete” and “sensible” and think “you go to a doctor because you’re hurt or sick,” she says. After considering how their children might react, she says that “some mothers may realize that the total burden of the child’s anxiety might be a side effect of the procedure they hadn’t quite thought through and that might inspire them to postpone it until the child is older.”
I agree that there should be something in the book that says the mommy just really wants plastic surgery. Otherwise the message appears to simply be “plastic surgery makes you pretty!” That may be true, but letting this message seep into children’s minds cannot be the correct way to raise kids with healthy self-esteem.