Bullying can lead to all sorts of problems, including depression and self-esteem issues. But it can also influence someone to go under the knife.
Teenagers who are bullied are more likely to want to have plastic surgery to become more attractive, according to a new study.
This desire is related to “poor psychological functioning,” according to researchers at the University of Coventry.
The researchers asked 750 11- to 16-year-olds – some who identified as victims of bullying, others who were either perpetrators, both or neither – whether they would like to have cosmetic surgery to look more attractive or change something about their appearance.
The group who were most likely to say yes were victims of bullying, but the number of bullies who also said yes was higher than average, too, albeit less so.
The researchers say this could be because, for bullies, “cosmetic surgery may simply be another tactic to increase social status...to look good and achieve dominance”.
The study states:
Bullies want to look better independent of their psychological functioning, whereas being bullied was related to reduced psychological functioning and that partly mediated the effect between being victimized by peers and desire for cosmetic surgery.
Victims had the greatest desire for cosmetic surgery and the most extreme scores.
Previous research has found that around half of adults seeking cosmetic surgery report a history of bullying. This study shows the desire for surgery is also present at a younger age, at or around the time of being bullied.
"Our results suggest that cosmetic surgeons should screen candidates for psychological vulnerability and history of bullying," said lead researcher Dieter Wolke.