Former child model Nicolette Taylor is 13-years-old. She’d gotten teased “multiple times a week” for a while because of her nose. What made matters worse was feeling like wherever she went, her bullies could access her: Nicolette was harassed on social networking sites when not in school. Nicolette’s mother, Maria Taylor, told Nightline correspondent JuJu Chang:

“They went on Facebook, and they started posting, ‘Hey big nose. It happened probably about five times that week. … I came in when she was on the phone with the boy, and I took the phone from her, and I said, ‘Listen, you need to take them off Facebook.’ I was crazy, crazy.”

So, after enduring regular harassment and subsequent insecurity, Nicolette simply went and got a nose job:

So, the teasing was the major factor here. As a sidenote, we’re lucky to have not really had robust social networking sites in junior high, so perhaps we’re not understanding: can one not unfriend bullies on Facebook? (We’re not being glib, we’re sincerely curious how one might be harassed on Facebook with adequate privacy settings). For whatever reason, we’re also told that Nicolette had broken her nose twice (which contributed to its appearance) as if that offers further insight into why a 13-year-old has gotten plastic surgery. Thanks to celebrities, people everywhere are familiar with the “plastic surgery as healing” defense.

Nicolette’s parents compare what they’ve done to getting her braces: “You send them to a good school,” her father Rob Taylor told ABC. “You’d buy them shoes. You’d get them braces, which we did. It’s that kind of thing.” It’s worth noting here that Nicolette’s not a terribly unusual case: earlier this year, ABC news reported that plastic surgery “to avoid being bullied” was on the rise. In 2007, around 90,000 teens opted for cosmetic enhancement.

Plastic surgery has been a pretty popular subject around TheGloss lately, with a lot of commenters passionately defending their right to utilize cosmetic procedures as an act of self-esteem building. Several commenters have revealed that they were specifically teased about their noses and don’t regret getting them fixed. Presumably, none of them were under 18.

As for Mr. Taylor’s justifications: getting a thirteen-year-old a nose job is very, very, very different from sending them to the University of Chicago. It’s also very different from buying them shoes, because one can remove shoes and change shoes depending on mood and whim. And ultimately, yes, getting a nose job is different from getting braces (on the most basic level, one is a surgical procedure and the other is not).

However, the braces comparison does touch on an interesting point. We–like a lot of kids in our generation–got braces young because we didn’t have perfect teeth. Not so imperfect, granted, that we got teased about them. Most parents who provide braces for their children figure that one goes further professionally with good teeth. The same logic can reasonably be applied to a more conventionally attractive nose. Still, we wonder how often plastic surgery is used as a (very drastic) Band-Aid for genuine issues with self-esteem. We also tend to suspect that a lot of the self-loathing and insecurity–that are a regular part of one’s teens–will endure until self-esteem develops the old fashioned way.

Also. Remember Botox Mom? The (hoax?) woman who injected her little girl with botox and gave her “virgin waxes” because she wanted the child to be a successful model/actress? People were outraged over it, perhaps because Botox Mom was pretty upfront about her actions being motivated purely by shallowness (and not harassment, like here). Are people going to be less outraged by this because of the difference in a few years?

It’s striking that all parents involved were happy to tell their stories on television.

Some people will say that Rob and Maria are good parents concerned with their child’s future and current well-being. Others will surely call this child abuse. At least one poll has it at a pretty even split. What do you say?

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(via HuffPo, Daily Mail)