Want to boost your daughter’s self image? Don’t go for bust

image When I first read about Jenna Franklin, the British girl whose parents are giving her $8,000 breast implants for her 16th birthday, I was shocked by the notion of a father willing to be part of anything that would make his teenaged daughter more enticing to teenaged boys.

Looking ahead to my own daughter’s sweet 16, I’ve begun saving up for a special birthday ensemble that includes sheet-metal pants and a turtleneck sweater made of chain-link. And possibly a make-up kit to go with it, depending on whether she wears her metal visor up or down.

I have no doubt my daughter will thank me later for adding a degree of difficulty to the courtship process, which will eliminate those who aren’t persistent.

Or, at the very least, those without a blow torch.

While Franklin’s parents say their “gift” is meant to boost their daughter’s self esteem, I don’t think going for bust is the answer. Even though Kay and Martin Franklin are cosmetic surgeons themselves, and say they only want the breast for their daughter, they have to see how the need for self-image “improvements” won’t end there.

It’ll be a tummy-tuck at 17, then higher cheekbones and a thinner nose for her 18th birthday. At 21, she can get those pouty lips she always wanted, and maybe a little eye work. Perhaps touch up those pointy ears she used to get teased about in grade school. Eventually, it will be time to tighten that sagging 23-year-old chin.

Then finally, when she’s completely unrecognizable and can’t pass through airport security without an X-ray of her head from the luggage machine, Jenna will be happy — and confident that she can lose her parents in a crowd, which is really what the whole thing is about.

I have three teens at home. I can tell you the things that either empower or implode their self-confidence — and what they identify as being important to them — can literally change from moment to moment. On more than one occasion I have started a harmless conversation over breakfast on, let’s say… why I like Fruitloops… and found myself the unwitting participant in a what felt like an interview with Gary Busey.

Between the Molotov cocktail of hormones coursing through their veins, the constant flux of influences in their lives thanks to social media, the tether of cyberspace, and the occasional friend you wish your child never met, the road our sons and daughters must navigate to define themselves is full of swerves and near misses.

It’s our job as parents to not only be there on those rare occasions when they actually stop to ask for directions, but also to close the road when we know they don’t have the skill to navigate what’s ahead.

At age 16, I’m sure many girls believe larger breasts will boost self-esteem.

And for the record, most 16-year-old boys would agree with them.

But will she feel the same when she’s a 35-year-old business woman tired of men looking at her self-esteem boosts instead of sales figures during staff meetings? Is a 16-year-old capable of understanding how her body will change and how breast implants will impact those changes?

Can a 16-year-old even get through the week with the same set of “best” friends they had on Monday?

As parents, we need to recognize this and intervene when it comes to decisions that have long-term consequences, even when our kids don’t agree or understand.

In all honesty, I’m glad the situation with the Franklins arose. It has prompted me to try even harder to ensure my daughter’s self-confidence and self-image are grounded in who she is — not how she looks.

Besides, I’d also like to avoid the cost of breast implant surgery.

The fact is, I’m flat busted.



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Still looking for that perfect book for summer reading? Ned’s first book, Humor at the Speed of Life,available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Disclaimer: You should still use sunscreen when reading this book)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

59 thoughts on “Want to boost your daughter’s self image? Don’t go for bust”

  1. I am a, shall we say, busty girl and in no way has it ever affected my self-esteem. Well, maybe for 5 minutes as a teenager but I grew out of that. A young woman’s self-esteem and overall self-worth is already a challenge as it is, nevermind adding surgery to the mix. She needs to learn NOW that how you look really isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things.

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve gained weight, lost weight, gained it back, have droopier/more tired eyes, you name it. And really? Who gives a shit? aging is a part of life.

    1. Kim, you are so right. Seriously, as a parent what is the message? “We love you, Honey, but bigger boobs will make you even better…”

      As you said, it has to start on the inside. If you are happy with who you are and learn to accept yourself as a person, you will not only be happier overall, but are more likely to bring people into your life who will make you happy — because they will accept you for who you are as well. If you can’t accept yourself, how can you expect to find others who will appreciate what you have to offer?

  2. As the father of a sixteen-going-on-thirty-year-old, Ned, this was glorious.
    You’re a good man, Ned Hickson.
    Just don’t quote me on that.

  3. Every once in a while, a completely failed sex life doesn’t sound like the disaster it seems on other occasions. Funny how your blog often makes everything else in my life (well, most everything) seem better, not the least of which was my decision to study genetics rather than practice it. Thanks for the mammaries!

  4. These two sound like they need a second opinion on whether they should be allowed to be making these kinds of decisions. As cosmetic surgeons, they have lost sight of the true reason for parenthood in deference to their so-called profession. As parents they should give solid advice, that is good for the child. Sixteen is no age to go through a surgical procedure that is as superficially based as this one.

    1. It seems pretty self-serving to me, too. It’s not like it’s reconstructive surgery.

      A different kind of minor procedure could’ve helped avoid this situation in the first place… *snip snip*

  5. Way to go Franklins for setting your daughter up for ending up looking like Michael Jackson. Puleeze! Thank you for setting the record straight; that teenagers are a hormonal mess of ever changing emotions.

  6. Ha, lots of fun wordplay, very clever. Poor teen girls, it really is tough on them. They need some guidance, lots of patience, and somebody to say no. Also, they never listen to their mothers, so dads come in handy there 😉

    1. Yeep, there’s definitely something to that whole “father-daughter, mother-son” thing. Unfortunately, social media slowly taking the place of common sense and parental involvement in becoming all too common.

  7. “try even harder to ensure my daughter’s self-confidence and self-image are grounded in who she is — not how she looks”—Here, here. Now, if we can just get Hollywood to send out that message too…

  8. I can’t imagine agreeing with your child that she is insufficient in her natural state and must be changed or fixed. I mean, that’s the message they are sending her (along with all of the other disturbing messages you mention). Ugh. That poor girl. And I always say we’re moving to Amish country when my girls are older. Or we’re going to have to “ugly them up.” I’m thinking Jim Carrey’s haircut in Dumb and Dumber and knock out a few teeth. That should take care of the boys for a while…

  9. It makes me despair for the children of tattoo artists.

    I just don’t know what all this caterwauling over self-esteem is about, nobody I knew had any and we all turned out okay,well, except for Stan that is.

  10. You are amazing, has anyone told you that lately?! I love how you can take any topic and be serious, funny and wise all at once. You’re kids are very lucky to have such a “cool” dad 😉

  11. Flat busted, hardy har har. I totally agree. At 16 they aren’t even done developing yet, for cryin’ out loud. Never mind the fact that they’ve made it all that much harder to detect breast cancer and have hindered her abilities to self-exam. Which is important! It can save her life. What were they thinking? *shakes head* I only pray they don’t have more children to screw up.

    1. I believe “thinking” is the operative word here — with a big, fat “NOT” before it.

      And don’t worry, when it comes to screwing up kids, I can help pick up the slack 😉

  12. Oh man, this is so sad and scary. My daughter complains about her nose being too long but we tell her we love it the way it is and that she doesn’t need to change. At 19 she is understanding to accept herself and the beauty within. So glad your daughter has a dad like you. 🙂

    1. I don’t think it’s until our 20s and 30s that we begin to understand that our “imperfections” are what make us unique. My wife has an incredible smile, and part of the reason is that one tooth is just SLIGHTLY out of alignment with the rest. Without it, it would just be another “perfect” smile. I LOVE that about her smile and would never want her to change it. No doubt, your daughter will meet someone who cherishes the shape of her nose because it is a quality that makes her face unique 😉

  13. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m someone who was raised to believe that our self worth was in appearances and I can’t tell you how damaging that has been. You’re a great father and I’m glad your kids will grow up to love themselves from the inside out.

  14. I really don’t like to be judgmental but breast implant surgery at 16 is asinine. I’ll stop there. I agree with you, the neverending fluxes in the daily emotions of preteens and teenagers is exhausting but a battle we have to keep fighting.It seems to me that I have to go through a gazillion scenarios in my head, in a nanosecond, of possible outcomes to anything I say or do and the end result is never (okay rarely) what I envision. It ends though. One fine day..it ends.

  15. I love that you can see the difference between self-esteem from self-worth and not just how they look. It is important when you have teenage daughters of your own. This situation is sad! It tells me that the parents have a self-image issue also, otherwise they wouldn’t condone her “gift” but as parents, I am willing to bet they don’t think this will hurt her. They think they are helping… no matter what the rest of the world thinks. Make no mistake, I am not defending them, just looking at the motives and psychology behind their decision! :-/

  16. Sorry Ned I missed this post. If I’m not too late, I would like to mention that I helped raise a teenage girl and a boy. Both could be very surreal in their actions but this was 20 years ago when social media was not such a big or common influence. We forbade the young girl -15 – to have her door closed when she had male visitors. Course it wasn’t long before she broke this rule, so i removed her door and hid the hardware. Ha! She never mentioned chest size to us , as far as I know. If she had, it would have been a resounding NO. If she wanted surgery she would have had to get it on her own without our participation or blessing after the age of majority. Her body, she can do what she wants – as soon as she is legally allowed to. No permission here. I am basically against cosmetic surgery unless it is to repair accident damage or correct a deformity. The two teens kept my wife and I hopping but surgery was never a topic.

    Great post Ned – a lot of fun and puns. Good luck with your teens.

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