Proud2Bme | #IAmMoreThan Campaign: Undoing the Trend of Perfection

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#IAmMoreThan Campaign: Undoing the Trend of Perfection

By Ashley Michelle Williams--When I was teenager, I remember the biggest back-to-school trend usually being related to some type of a new style.

So when I recently read in People Magazine that the newest back-to-school must-have for teens today is cosmetic surgery, I was not only shocked, but also saddened. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2014 nearly 64,000 cosmetic surgery patients were between the ages of 13 and 19 years old. Moreover, experts believe the trend is set to rise.

Additionally, plastic surgeons confirm that teens are not only getting plastic surgery, but are also getting liposuction and lip fillers – especially during their summer vacation.

"There has been an increase in teens coming in for plastic surgery," Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, CEO of BeverlyHillsBody, told PEOPLE. "This is directly related to the surgery of the stars of their reality shows, and the acceptance of cosmetic procedures on social media."

Now, I’m not against plastic surgery. I believe that it can make life-changing transformations for people who have issues that hurt their self-esteem. But I do believe that for teens, it is not the best route. This is especially true because their bodies and minds are still developing. Who they are today will not be who they will be next year.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Rosenberg agrees, telling PEOPLE that teens need to make sure they get to the root of their issue before deciding that the solution is cosmetic surgery.

"If you find your teenager wanting plastic surgery, do the 'psycho-surgery' first, and delve into what is really bothering him or her," Rosenberg, founder of the Psychological Healing Center, tells PEOPLE.

Many plastic surgeons say the surgeries of reality stars have influenced the increase in plastic surgery and other body changing trends. One particular reality star who has been at the center of the “lip filler” trend is Kylie Jenner of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  After Jenner got “temporary lip fillers,” a huge lip movement on social media began. Young girls began not only putting fillers in their lips to look like the star, but they also began posting the photos (and some were scary) onto social media. It seemed like young girls started believing in the “beauty is pain” mantra, and it was ridiculous.

I get angry and disappointed when I see celebs using their fame to the detriment of others, especially young girls who are impressionable. Of course, I know they might not be intentionally using their fame to the detriment of others, but they should know that teens who look up to them often do what they do. They are role models, even without wanting to be one. It just is what it is. They should see that as a gift and use that to help others. I just always wonder: Can’t more celebs begin to use their fame to inspire girls to love themselves as who they are?

So despite her past, when I read that the Jenner recently launched an anti-bullying campaign through her Instagram, called #IAmMoreThan, I was not only shocked (in a good way), but I was very inspired and happy. She announced to her following that she is featuring six people during the week who have turned their past experiences of bullying into something positive.

“I am so excited to launch my new @Instagram campaign #IAmMoreThan. For the next six days, I will be sharing stories of 6 incredible people who have become heroes in their own way by taking #bullying and turning it into something positive," she wrote. "I've gotten to talk and bond with all of these people whose stories you will see on my page. I think you will all fall in love with them just like I did."

I think this is great and something that should be done consistently. I definitely can’t bash her for using her fame to help people accept themselves. I just hope that she now is realizing that she can use her fame for the greater good: to help teens, especially young girls, realize that they don’t have to get all kinds of plastic surgery, lip fillers, or whatever to feel better about themselves.

Instead, before deciding on anything that might permanently alter the way you look, everyone should realize that self-love is needed first. That is where the true healing begins because yes, you are already worthy.

About the blogger: Ashley Michelle Williams is an energetic, world-traveled broadcast and digital journalist. She currently works at NBC Network News. For her efforts in journalism, Ashley has received many honors, including the 2011 Student Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; the Pat Tobin Scholarship from the Black Journalists Association of Southern California, a Hearst Journalism Award Nomination; and more. Having overcome anorexia and bulimia, she hopes her involvement in NEDA and her support of those battling eating disorders will help many people, especially African-Americans, who are suffering from eating disorders. The opinions in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect those of NBC.

Also by Ashley Michelle Williams:

I’m Grateful My Mom Encouraged Healthy Body Image, Not Dieting

Unbinding Myself from Myself

5 Ways to Break Free of the Comparison Game

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