Stop Cosmetic Surgery Apps Aimed At Kids #SurgeryIsNotAGame
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My name is Diana Denza and I am the representative for Endangered Bodies New York. This is one of eight linked petitions by Endangered Bodies directed at Apple, Google and Amazon.
I've worked with vulnerable children and young adults through both paid employment and volunteer work. Day in and day out, these young people are being told that their bodies are their sole value -- and that they will never be enough as they are.
Plastic surgery apps don't provide any educational value and send young people the message that the only way to attain perfection is through the use of drastic, body-altering methods.
As someone who struggled with an eating disorder in her young adult years, I know all too well how toxic the message that these apps depict can be -- reinforcing the notion that being "thin" and "pretty" will make your life "perfect." Children and young adults deserve better than damaging apps that offer an extremely narrow definition of beauty.
Cosmetic surgery apps, which often feature animated characters, are being marketed to kids as young as nine, a target group that is already influenced by our body-toxic culture.
Our societies are saturated with images of perfect and unattainable bodies, with over 21 million cosmetic procedures being performed throughout the world in 2015 according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The dissatisfaction many adults face with their bodies has trickled down to our children. Statistics from The National Eating Disorder Association in the U.S. show 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. In the UK, the 2016 Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey found more than a third of girls aged seven to ten felt women were valued more for their appearance than their abilities. Globally, children deserve to be challenged and inspired by their toys, not to spend their free time worrying about how they look.
On January 14, 2014, Endangered Bodies supported the UK-based Twitter account Everyday Sexism in its call to remove plastic surgery apps aimed at children featured on iTunes and the Google Play store. Within 24 hours, both platforms removed the flagged apps. Although neither platform released an official statement, their choice to remove these “games” indicates that they recognize the potential harm they can cause.
Deceptively designed as children’s games, the apps encourage users to slice virtual patients apart using scalpels, syringes, and other tools used in surgical settings. By making cosmetic surgery apps available for download, Apple, Google and Amazon are allowing companies to stoke and profit from the insecurities of children.
We at Endangered Bodies challenge the toxic culture that promotes negative body image. Cosmetic surgery apps, which promote body dissatisfaction and shame, are not games that should be marketed to vulnerable young people. Although in some cases (where games have age-based ratings) it is possible for parents to limit access to these games through parental controls, we believe that further action is needed. Apple, Google and Amazon need to scrutinize the apps that already feature an age rating to ensure the content isn’t in fact directed at younger children, using the age limit as a way to still offer their app for download. In other words, we don’t want these platforms to use the age rating system as justification to continue to offer these apps, which are clearly designed for children.
Please sign this petition to ask Apple, Google and Amazon to implement a policy which is clear to every developer, that they will not accept any such apps that are targeted at children and make a commitment to protect the mental health of their young users.
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