Charity Pays for Plastic Surgery for Bullying Victim


Nadia before and after surgery.

Everyone seems to get judged on their appearance at some point. You can be too tall, or too short, too skinny or too fat, blonde or brunette or somewhere in between. You can have braces or glasses or pimples or a big nose. Or, like one American teenager Nadia Isle, you can have big ears.

I think everyone has been bullied because of their appearance, and some get it worse than others. For those already insecure, this kind of bullying can be overwhelming. Nadia was called “Dumbo” and “elephant ears” by her peers which lead to increasingly low self esteem. Nadia’s story has made the rounds online, from Ninemsn:

Nadia Isle, 14, of Georgia said being bullied about her appearance had caused her to become introverted and stopped her from socialising since a girl in her grade one class told her she had the biggest ears she had ever seen.

“I used to be very talkative when I was a little kid but now I’m shy. I’d rather not talk to anyone. I’m anti-social,” Nadia told CNN.

Nadia had apparently been asking her mum for surgery to pin her ears back since she was 10-years-old but they simply could not afford to pay for the procedure. Her mum, feeling desperate, did an Internet search and found the Little Baby Face Foundation, a charity organisation that helps children from around the world with facial deformities. After contacting them, Nadia received the surgery she always wanted.

The charity flew Nadia and her mother to New York where she had her ears pinned back and corrective work done on her jaw line.

Nadia also underwent a partial nose job to correct a deviated septum and give her face a more balanced look.

The procedures which could have cost around $40,000 were paid for by the Little Baby Face Foundation.

Seeing herself for the first time after surgery Nadia said she felt beautiful.

“It’s exactly what I wanted,” she said.

“I love it.”

Nadia has said that she knows she should have been accepted by her peers without the surgery but she knew the bullying wouldn’t end and doesn’t regret the surgery.

I am extremely torn on my opinion about this story. On one hand, I had absolutely no idea that kind of surgery would cost around $40,000 and to me that is a lot of money for, and I hate to say this, elective/unnecessary surgery. I also think Nadia has the right to feel beautiful and accepted, and the surgery helped her get there. But on the flip side, she was not horribly disfigured, she did not have a huge birth defect or suffer a serious injury or burns and I don’t know if I think she qualifies for help from Little Baby Face Foundation. I actually feel it’s a bit irresponsible for a charity to pay for elective surgery, especially when it is something as simple as pinning back your ears. But that just makes me sound insensitive because even though I think that the way you look shouldn’t matter, it does.

Nadia is happy and feels beautiful and really, don’t we all wish that every bullied teenager had the opportunity to feel better about themselves?

Do you agree with the charity’s decision to fund the surgery? Would you change anything about your own appearance?


  • Maree Talidu

    Every person deserves to feel comfortable, however the charity that paid for this elective surgery has gone outside what I would consider a part of their mission: helping children with facial deformities. I don’t consider large ears to be a deformity. I think the $40,000 spent on her obvious nose job as well as ears and jaw could have been better spent on a child with an actual facial ‘deformity’ or an injury- I am happy she feels better about herself but I think the charity should focus on genuine deformities. Big ears and a crooked nose may be ‘not perfect’ but I certainly don’t think she looked deformed in her ‘before’ picture. I am a high school teacher and I had a yr7 student approach me this week- he’s being teased for his large ears. He asked what could be done from a surgical point of view. I explained pinning, but also told him that he is still growing and he needs to remember that things can change with your body. At no stage in this conversation did I look at the boy (who DOES have large ears) and think “Oh how awful to be so disfigured!” I felt badly for him with the teasing and we discussed how to deal with bullies, but I also thought to myself that we are lucky he lives in an environment where if he continues to hate his ears, he can have a simple procedure done. Not paid for by a charity.

  • Monique Fischle

    Definitely agree with everything you have said. I think she has the right to plastic surgery if she feels it will improve her self esteem and stop the bullying. Do I think the charity should have paid for it? No, as you said, she doesn’t actually have a genuine deformity. She doesn’t looked deformed at all in the BEFORE picture.

    That was really good advice that you gave that boy, he’s lucky to have a teacher like you.

  • Melissa Savage

    Ah the old ‘correcting a deviated septum’ excuse…

    A person of my acquaintance recently had their ears pinned back. They told me and I honestly had no idea that their ears ever stuck out, but apparently it made them self-conscious. People are weird.

    It’s a good surgery, but FFS she should have paid for it herself or done without. This is such a waste of charity money that could have gone to a kid with a facial disfigurement, not someone who had a rough childhood. If they are handing out free surgery for people who had rough childhoods I’d like a breast reduction and a tooth whitening please. If I was a donor I’d be pulling my money out.

    • Monique Fischle

      She should have paid for it herself, that’s not what I’m torn about (didn’t really make that clear) I’m torn about whether I think she should have had the surgery or not, I definitely don’t think the charity should have paid for it because she didn’t have a facial deformity. And she’s only 14, she hasn’t finished growing. I would have been right there with you on the breast reduction. That and something that would have meant I didn’t need braces for three and a half years.

      • Tamsin Howse

        Can I just say you don’t need a breast reduction AT ALL and I had braces for 5 years :P.

        • Melissa Savage

          I had 4 years of braces. Considering shelling out for tooth whitening before wedding (I’m so vain…)

          • Monique Fischle

            I don’t think that’s vain at all.

          • Maree Talidu

            I’d get my teeth whitened before my wedding for sure! (if there was one happening!)
            The 3 years of braces that I had should have my teeth looking their best on a day like that!

            We had private health insurance but the gap was still huge, however my parents made sure both myself and my sister had braces. I then became a smoker (no longer am) and would love a professional whitening. That’s not vain!

          • Tamsin Howse

            I can understand that. I almost did too, but I figured my teeth are actually pretty white anyway so it was probably just another cost I didn’t need.

        • Monique Fischle

          As a young teenager, I wanted one.

      • Melissa Savage

        oh she’s only 14…

        Right. Cos the results of the surgery look great. But if she’s not done growing they might not have been needed.

  • Tamsin Howse

    I’m sitting here staring at the before/after picture and considering this from the standpoint of what if this was me, or what if this was my child. I’ve come up with the following opinions:

    1. I can’t even tell she’s had work done on her chin. Her nose is a little more obvious, her ears aren’t hugely obviously pinned to me. What I can tell straight away is that her hair has been dyed and professionally styled, she’s wearing foundation, her eyebrows have been waxed and she has eye makeup on. Yes, she looks better, but how much is due to those things rather than the surgery?

    2. I don’t think she looks deformed. I actually think she looks rather a bit like I did when I was young. My nose isn’t crooked but my chin is weak and my ears stick out. My hair was that colour too. Looking at this makes me think “Gosh, could *I* have got surgery for being deformed?” which is ridiculous because I’m not deformed at all. I’m actually rather pretty, and I strongly believe she would have grown up to be too.

    3. If it were my child, I’d want to do everything I could to improve their esteem. But I don’t think that would make my child a charity case, it would make them a normal child. And I certainly would have started with some hair styling tips.

    4. If your kid really does have super sticky outy ears, get them pinned back when they’re super young! It’s really obvious when they’re a baby if it’s a problem to the point of requiring surgery. I know a few people who had this procedure done when they were very young (probably about 6).

    5. A friend of mine had her ears pinned back. They only stuck out as much as mine – not enough to require surgery. She has had nothing but complications for the last 5 years, including having to have it redone twice and being in quite a lot of pain. It may be a “small” procedure but it is still surgery, and there is still risk.

    And that’s my rant…

    • Tamsin Howse

      Oh, and it definitely shouldn’t have been paid for by a charity.

    • Maree Talidu

      You make an excellent point about pinning the ears early, it becomes an extremely painful operation and has a higher risk of long term complications after the age of 10. Children are more resilient and are less likely to remember it if it is done early.

      Also: it’s clear that she’s had a makeover. I wonder how different she would have looked without the surgery, but with the well done hair and face full of flattering makeup. I just don’t even think she’s unattractive- to me she looks like any other girl her age. Certainly not disfigured, but now certainly stuck with the ‘charity case’ label for life. (Thanks, mum!)

    • Monique Fischle

      Yes, yes, and yes again! The make up and styling makes all the difference and I don’t see a huge difference between the before and after photos. It was wrong that the charity paid for it and I still don’t think surgery was the right option.

  • Maree Talidu

    p.s I teach kids who really need braces but can’t afford them, have crooked noses, acne scarring, all the things that teenagers often go through- should I refer them to a charity for facial deformities? I think it’s really unfair that A: her mother approached the charity, making her daughter feel even worse, as though she WAS disfigured when she clearly isn’t and B: the charity were irresponsible in paying for this surgery. Save it for birth and congenital deformities, burns victims, kids that have been mauled by dogs etc.

    • Monique Fischle

      Completely agree. Every teenager wants to change something about their appearance and I feel Nadia’s problem could have been fixed with the right styling and not getting a charity to pay $40,000 for an unnecessary surgery.

      • Maree Talidu

        Some of the ‘plainest’ young teenagers have turned out to be some of the most highly successful models in the world. And you have people like Kate Moss who refused to get have braces, even though her teeth are crooked, you have to accept sometimes that ‘quirks’ like teeth, freckles, a bump in your nose can be the things that make you YOU.

        I think Nadia should have waited until she had finished growing, she may well have grown into her features, and as I said before, I don’t think the surgery made much difference as I don’t think there was a genuine issue to begin with. She’s just average. Is average wrong now? If so, I am in a world of trouble!

        I had a very awkward and gangly female student a few years back and I thought “Oh, you’re gonna get teased” but 4 years later, she has done the full ‘swan’ transformation and is being scouted by modelling agencies. If she had permanently modified her appearance 4 years prior, which certain bullies used to suggest to her, she wouldn’t be the stunning and unique individual she is today, who it seems will be making money from her looks.

        • Monique Fischle

          I don’t think to say she is average is wrong. She very well could have grown into her features.