Stop Cosmetic Surgery Apps Aimed At Kids #SurgeryIsNotAGame
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This is one of eight linked petitions by Endangered Bodies across New York, London, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand directed at Apple, Google and Amazon.
Hello, my name is Angela Barnett and I am the representative for Endangered Bodies New Zealand. Giving young children access to cosmetic surgery games is not teaching them to celebrate their originality. Games that make dark skin whiter, chisel larger noses, plump up lips, shave off curves, and turn eyes round and Disney-like creates judgment, fear of being different, and fear of not looking like a fictitious ideal. As a mother of an eight and nine-year-old, I don’t want my children growing up looking for flaws or thinking their appearance is some kind of DIY project that needs fixing. With scalpels.
When children and teens view 'flawless' images of women and men they question their own looks, are more likely to diet, suffer from depression, and shame. This makes me sad. I have conducted lots of interviews with women who grew up hating their bodies and almost every story begins with a young girl who didn’t think her face or body was right.
We don't need games or apps that add to this problem. We need games that teach girls and boys how to own their own uniqueness, how to stick up for themselves, slay dragons and be confident in their own skin. Our faces and bodies are our most reliable homes. Shame is not a game. And nor is cosmetic surgery.
The above images are examples of the many plastic surgery apps available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Amazon App Store. These 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 scrutinise 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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