This morning, Good Morning America aired a segment on 7-year-old Samantha Shaw whose mother flew her to New York from South Dakota in order to pin back both her ears and fix a fold on her right one. The segment, as we’re sure you can imagine, has garnered the ire of the blogosphere. But in a rare departure from our editorial stance on childhood plastic surgery, we’re about to go to bat for this mother.
Samantha’s mother Cammie told ABC’s Juju Chang that Samantha’s ears have made her a target for schoolyard bullies. For her part, Samantha didn’t seem as concerned — but does that make what Cammie did wrong?
The idea that plastic surgery is the answer to bullying certainly isn’t a good message to send children. And, let’s be honest, almost everyone gets bullied at some point in their life — no matter how perfect they may look. But is fixing “cup” ears really Plastic Surgery? Dr. Steven Pearlman, who performed the surgery pro bono thanks to the Little Baby Face Foundation, says no. “In my book and most of the medical community,” he argues, “ears that stick out is not a cosmetic issue.”
A personal anecdote: my mother had my sister’s ears pinned back sometime between fourth and sixth grade, something my sister is both entirely unscarred by and thankful for. In fact, she barely remembers it. (Hence the vagueness about her age.) And though there’s a hilarious story involving the Vancouver Canucks visiting the children’s wing of the hospital the day my sister had it done and my mother getting chewed out by the captain for being some sort of pageant mother freak, the overall story has a happy ending — which is to say: my sister loves her ears.
I would put ear pinning in the same category as orthodontia, but I understand that I might be in the minority. But as a delightfully pithy commenter at Jezebel put it, “I doubt [Samantha] is going to look back at her childhood and wistfully think, “Gosh, I wish my right ear were still folded in half.”
What do you think?