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Knoxville Plastic & Craniofacial Surgery

The Princesses and The Plastic Surgeon

By Jason J. Hall, MD, FACS

Recently a colleague of mine told me that he does not want his daughter growing up with the label of “princess” because he thinks it causes girls to develop a sense of entitlement and an obsession with the superficial.  I disagreed.  I view it as a term of endearment and told him that not only am I raising princesses, but I’m raising princesses who can change a tire, shoot a gun, and bait a fish hook.

Photo courtesy of Everything Knoxville

Photo courtesy of Everything Knoxville

My response got a laugh, but also got me thinking: How do I raise two girls to have a healthy body image and be happy with who they are when I’m a Plastic Surgeon? 

Regardless of what I do day in and day out, Dr. 90210, a character created and perpetuated by the media, is the stereotype of the plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, my daughters will have to contend with that public perception of what their father does as they grow up and begin to define who they are.

Is it hypocritical for me to tell my girls to be happy in their own skin and ignore the messages about being “skinny” and “sexy” that they are bombarded with when I am in the beauty business? How do I teach them to be self-assured and confident in themselves? How do I teach them to be unselfish young women?

After some thought, these are the answers I came up with:
» The girls need to know they’re loved unconditionally.
» They need to develop a healthy lifestyle early.
» They need to develop a generous heart.
» They need to learn the value of hard work and a dollar.
» In trying to teach these lessons, my actions need to speak louder than my words.

Knowing they’re loved
The girls need to know that I love them.  I’m the first man in their life, and I will always hold a special place in their hearts.  I am the barometer against which every other male that comes into their lives will be measured.  They need to know that my love does not come with a fee. They need to know that I love them for who they are on the inside, and nothing can change that.  The only way they will know that is by experiencing that – at home, every day.

Developing a healthy lifestyle
Our girls need to see that living a healthy lifestyle is more important than a dress size. So much of the media’s portrayal of exercise and health is one of deprivation and starvation – frankly, none of it sounds like fun.  My wife and I strive to live a healthy life and to make sure the girls are included.  We plan meals together, we eat together most nights, and we play together.  Outside playtime is important, and we make time for that – we try and make running around and sweating FUN.

Limiting “screen time” is important to us in that it both forces us to DO something and limits the reach of so many of the damaging media messages.  Those things, I hope, will pay off in that we will have healthy, active girls who don’t see eating well and daily exercise as a chore but as a normal way of life.

Growing up with a generous heart
We do not want our girls to be self-absorbed children, so we try our best to NOT model being self-absorbed parents.  We try to model living a life of service and hope that by living the message we’re teaching, they will live it as well.  We hope that they will learn that the needs of others come before their own and that they will understand that a life of service isn’t about their job but is about who they are as a person.

Learning the value of work
Starting now, while they’re young, we do our best to make sure our children know that the material things they enjoy have come at the expense of hard work and sacrifice.  For our oldest, we’ve started a chore chart, and the money she earns every week goes equally into three separate boxes marked spend, save, and give.  We hope this will not only teach her the value of a dollar, but the importance of saving and giving.

A word about cosmetic surgery
I have no doubt that the cosmetic surgery discussion will happen in my house at some point.  I have insights into the topic that few other fathers have and want to share those with anyone considering cosmetic surgery, my own daughters included.  However, what they need to hear is the same message anyone considering cosmetic surgery needs to hear: Cosmetic surgery should not be an outward attempt to create inner beauty; surgery should only serve to enhance it.

I don’t profess to have all the answers to my own questions – my wife and I are just doing all that we can to raise healthy girls with a strong sense of themselves and to equip them as best we can to deal with the pressures of the outside world. All that being said, they’ll always be my princesses.

Knoxville Plastic & Craniofacial Surgery
9239 Park West Boulevard, Suite 202
Knoxville, TN 37923

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