Nip and Tuck Career Day

May 10th, 2011 by Andrea Bennett

How soon should kids learn about the intricacies of one medical career path?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

A plastic surgeon visiting Virginia’s Shady Grove Elementary School for a career day presentation to a class of 9-year-olds brought along an unexpected visual aid: a silicone breast implant.

The show-and-tell item has attracted so much attention that the story has since gone international. According to a piece in UK’s Daily Mail, the parents of the exposed were more scandalized than their kids. One mother said she was glad her child had missed career day: “'I think they're a little young to be having this discussion and with everything going on with body issues and everything else and bullying and stuff like that you don't need to add that to the mix.” The article goes on to mention that the kids generally thought the lesson was informative.

Commenters to various blogs weighing in on the visit ranged from outraged to non-plussed, generally according to how they view the work of a plastic surgeon. Several theorized that the silicone presentation was in context of educating about a reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy. “Dee” from Glen Allen, VA, said her child was actually at the career day and that the doctor, “spoke about being a surgeon and how hard you have to work and do lots of studying if you want to be a surgeon. My son said no one in his class even knew what they (surgeons) were.”

The Strollerderby blog’s Rebecca Odes found it hard to imagine a context in which allowing 4th, 5th, and 6th-graders to touch a silicone implant would be appropriate, unless it were within a discussion about reconstructive surgery. And she also laments how kids can learn at school that women can surgically alter their bodies if they’re dissatisfied with themselves. “These are little girls who in all likelihood haven’t even grown their breasts yet,” she writes. “The ground is fertile to plant the seeds of dissatisfaction.”

What’s your take? The plastic surgeon himself didn’t comment on the visit, and the kids say it was informative – not a promotion for breast enhancement. Think parents are overreacting, or that kids shouldn’t have been exposed to an implant at such a tender age?