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Cosmetic Surgery Apps Normalize Body Modification Procedures for Youth

A series of choose-your-own-plastic-surgery adventure apps are under scrutiny for provoking negative body image concepts amongst children and teens. Apps with names such as “Beauty Clinic Plastic Surgery,” “Nose Doctor Fun Kids Game,” and “Little Skin Doctor Treatment Game” are programs where users can give virtual characters face-lifts, liposuction, and double-eyelid surgery among other body modification procedures. Many of these apps have been downloaded tens of thousands of times, and critics say these apps are encouraging irrational beauty ideals in young minds.

The movement to deter the use of these apps has gained serious momentum. The self-image empowerment group, Endangered Bodies, has already garnered over 133,000 signatures on its petition to demand that Apple, Google, and Amazon remove the apps. According to The Washington Post, Apple recently took down its cosmetic surgery apps from its store, a move that could be attributed to the success of the petition.

Body modification apps have been on the market for the last several years. One of the first to hit the scene was iSurgeon, an app that allows users to manipulate photos of themselves or friends to give them an idea of what their face would like after plastic surgery. However, this new slew of apps geared toward youth could have serious developmental consequences. “The invasiveness of cosmetic procedures, and the potential vulnerabilities of those who might access those procedures, means that ‘playing’ with beauty ideals is a road which should be travelled down very cautiously,” said Kate Harvey, senior research officer at the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. “The images that they create lead to unrealistic expectations about what cosmetic surgery can achieve,” she told The Verge.

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