If she could change anything about her appearance, 14-year-old Kara would want a smaller nose. McKayla, also 14, would like to be thinner, and 17-year-old Kenley would like bigger eyes, and preferably blue ones instead of the green she was born with.
The girls, all visiting the Newgate Mall in Ogden recently, talked about what they like and dislike about their appearance.
“I would really like smaller thighs. I’ve always thought mine were too big,” said McKayla. “Other kids are really judgmental and can say really mean things sometimes.”
At a local swimming park in Roy, another group of girls talked about what they would change about themselves if they could.
“My stomach for sure,” said 17 year-old Kelsey. “I would like this little bump to go away. I want a flat stomach.”
Kelsey’s friend Ashley agreed.
“It’s hard to get a completely flat stomach, but that’s what I would want too,” she said. “I would like my hair to be longer. I’ve tried to grow it out for years, and it just doesn’t grow. I like the color, but I think the guys like longer hair on girls.”
According to an international national survey, the local teenagers are on par with other girls in their age group in the United States when it comes to their feelings about their looks.
The InSites Consulting Survey found that more than 88 percent of girls ages 15 to 25 would change something about their body if they could easily do so.
And boys aren’t immune — 73 percent also would change something about their appearance.
According to the survey, conducted with 4,065 respondents around the world, girls are least happy with their belly, thighs, bottom and breasts. If they could, boys would change their belly, muscles, chest, mouth and cheeks.
Although many of the kids would consider plastic surgery, not all of them would. On the flip side, girls are happiest with their eyes, hair and breasts. Boys also like their eyes, hair and skin the most. Only 7 percent of the kids surveyed are happy with their entire body.
“I wouldn’t get plastic surgery, even though I would like to change a few things,” said Kenley. “I think it would be scary and you might not like how things turn out. I think you just have to be happy with what you have and not let people make you feel bad about yourself.”
The 16-country international results showed the U.S. scores slightly below average when it comes to considering plastic surgery. About 23 percent of girls and 16 percent of boys in the 16 countries consider plastic surgery. Brazil’s young people rank highest with 47 percent of girls and 34 percent of boys saying they would consider an aesthetic operation.
“The current generation of youth is often referred to by scientists as the most narcissistic group ever,” said Joeri Van den Bergh, Gen Y expert at InSites Consulting and the author of the book, “How Cool Brands Stay Hot.”
“Therefore, it is not surprising that looking good is so important,” Van den Bergh said. “But this definitely is not only valid for youngsters and is a broader scientific fact. Just think of the increased importance of product and packaging design, or of the increased care given to interior design.”
Seven out of 10 youngsters think they are unique, according to the survey. About 69 percent of kids in the U.S. say they are unique or very unique, making them some of the less modest in the world. In countries such as Brazil, Romania, Russia, India and Italy, 7 to 8 out of 10 considered themselves to be unique. About 36 percent of the kids in the U.S. try to buy unique brands in order to be different. This includes mobile phones, shoes and clothing.
On the other hand, though, youngsters in the U.S. say being remembered as a good friend is more important than being remembered by their looks, and about one-fifth want to be remembered as a zealous worker.
They also feel it’s less important to be remembered as cosmopolitan, famous or popular.
“I don’t care if someone was on the drill team or the football team,” said Ashley. “If they were nice to me and treated me like I was important to them, that’s what I’ll remember the most.”