Filiz Gazi / DUVAR
An increasing trend in Turkey has seen women who want plastic surgery procedures using smartphone applications to generate their desired appearance and then taking these images to doctors, according to Seda Yılmaz, author of the recently-released book “Giysiler Ne Anlatır?” (What Does Clothing Explain?)
“Nowadays there are a number of telephone apps. On the apps you can change your body and your face. Your waist gets thinner and cellulite disappears. Back in the day people would go to aesthetic surgeons with the photograph of a famous person, now they are going with these apps and saying, 'make me like this',” Yılmaz said.
A recent video popular on social media featured a child saying they wanted to eat but couldn't because they had a belly. For many people this was funny, but for others it was an indicator of the relatively unlucky era in which children live.
I listened in on a conversation with a teacher who spoke with students aged 8-10 about beauty. Many students brought up popular names as references, and I wasn't familiar with most of them. “Their clothes are designed so nicely. And they are very thin. For me that is beautiful,” said one child.
One student said that because her hair was short she thought she was ugly. She said that her sister, who attends daycare, goes to sleep wearing lip gloss. The teacher asked students if they think being thin is beautiful, and one said yes. Another child explained that they are afraid of gaining weight, while another said that she squeezes her socks tightly because it makes her appear thinner.
“These images that they are exposed to at a very young age used to only be found in newspapers and magazines. Today, they are everywhere, all the time. I come from the generation that grew up with Barbies. You're playing with a doll that has a thin waist, slender legs, and prominent breasts, and you understand as a child that this is the kind of woman that people want you to be,” Yılmaz said.
“In this era, to be a size zero and to have certain measures of beauty is like a requirement, as is wearing certain jewelry and clothing and using expensive cellphones,” said Dr. Hakan Erman, a children's mental health specialist.
“Eating disorders are most commonly found in middle class, urban areas, while they are not found in children living in rural areas and among those who aren't interested in social media. Middle class, urban children are worried about changing body images. They frequently do sports. They eat and then throw up. Due to the fear of gaining weight they get to the point where they can't eat. Advertisements play a major role in this. Continuously seeing ads for diet products and beauty supplies can pave the way for a child not liking themselves,” Erman said.