Recently, there seems to have been a spate of moms encouraging their daughters to have cosmetic procedures. First, there was “Botox Mom” Kerry Campbell,Â who claimed to have injected her 8-year-old daughter Britney’s face with Botox. Then, “Human Barbie” Sarah BurgeÂ gave her 7-year-old daughter Poppy a voucher to get breast implants once she turns 16.
The Botox Mom story turned out to be a hoax,Â as “Kerry Campbell” was in fact Sheena Upton and was apparently paid by a UK tabloid to play the role of a mother who would give her daughter Botox injections. Which is, you know, not nearly as bad as being a real-life mother who would subject her real-life daughter to that kind of publicity in the first place.
So far, the Poppy Burge story seems to be real, perhaps because her mother is already known as an advocate for plastic surgery, having more than three quarters of a million dollars worth and counting, and is a celebrity in her own right.Â And Poppy seems delighted, saying: “I can’t wait to be like Mummy with big boobs.”
Burge defended the gift, saying that Poppy begged her for the present and that she “gave her the voucher so she can have it after she’s 16, when it’s legal. If she develops naturally big boobs, she can have something else done with it.”
Because, as we all know, big boobs are an important asset for the modern 16 year old, and if they’re not there naturally by that age then they should definitely be cosmetically enhanced. Yeah, right.
The most disturbing thing for me about both of these stories is that, hoax or not, both send a frightening message about the normalization of plastic surgery and the influence of a mother on her daughter’s body image. Mothers influence their daughters’ body image in many ways, especially through their own negative body talk. But these mothers have influenced their daughters in a far more blatant way, and in a way which may also have repercussions for other girls who see or read about their story.
Susie Orbach discussed the issue with Burge in The Guardian,Â lamenting people who don’t see themselves as beautiful. Burge replied: “I think beauty comes in all different shapes, sizes, and ages. I’m just here to point people who don’t feel good about themselves in the right direction.” I happen to think that she’s part of the problem to begin with.
It doesn’t matter whether their stories are true or not, the fact is that both mothers have deliberately sought out fame through this controversy. But at what cost?