Dozens of Plastic Surgery Apps Are Marketed to Children on Amazon and Google

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Plastic stethoscopes and doctor kits may have long been accepted as harmless toys, but these days, kids are being targeted with a very different—and much more controversial—type of “medical” play. Suites of plastic surgery smartphone app aimed at children as young as eight years old are rampant on sites like Amazon and Google, Verge reports. These apps, exploding with sugar, spice and everything surgical, task users with “beautifying” female cartoon characters by way of liposuction, lip fillers, nose jobs, and even double eyelid surgery. Opponents claim that this normalizes cosmetic surgeries and places them on the same level in a young mind as a new hair color or lipstick shade. 

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Plastic surgery apps don't provide any educational value and send young people the message that the only way to attain perfection is through the use of drastic, body-altering methods,” says the opening section of a petition against these games, penned by Diana Denza of the Endangered Bodies New York City chapter. The Endangered Bodies organization, an international group committed to promoting body positivity for people of all ages, created an assemblage of linked petitions in eight different countries to implement a policy change from online vendors like Amazon, Apple and Google that would prevent sensitive media directed towards kids—especially the kind hiding behind bright colors and cute cartoon characters—from being sold. 

Since its conception over a year ago, more than 120,000 Americans have signed their names to the U.S. petition created by the New York City chapter of Endangered Bodies, entitled “Stop Cosmetic Surgery Apps Aimed At Kids #SurgeryIsNotAGame.” To sign the appeal is to call for a change in protocol, challenging Amazon and related sites to enact rules that prevent controversial children’s entertainment from being accepted onto their platforms. Members of the group also support the notion that related apps with sensitive content must bear a warning label indicating incendiary subject material.

As of Wednesday afternoon, some of the plastic surgery games in question, including “High School Clinic Affair” by Bravo Kids Media and “Plastic Surgery Simulator” by TabTale, have been removed from the Apple store, but remain available on both Google Play and Amazon.com. Tom Neumayr, senior director of Apple, said, “We do not want nor allow these types of apps on the store. We have rules in place against these apps and do not offer them on the App Store.” 

A similar push to rid these sites of contentious surgery apps occurred in January of 2014, when UK-based Twitter account, “Everyday Sexism,” rallied followers to demand change, eventually garnering the support of the Endangered Bodies group. Though initiating a rapid-fire response where all flagged applications were removed within a day, a new wave of cosmetic surgery games has since arisen.