Reports in the press this week have highlighted the story of Hannah Burge, daughter of the Real Life or Human Barbie (www.reallifebarbie.com) who has become the youngest known person to receive injections of botulinum toxin at the age of 15 whilst on holiday in Spain, with her mother Sarah’s full consent.
Sarah Burge, who holds the world record for the most cosmetic procedures, states that she is a fully qualified aesthetic practitioner, despite her lack of formal medical training and beautician status. She is now performing continued treatments on her daughter now 16 years of age, with half the usual dosage given to adults, which she believes will prevent her developing wrinkles in the future. She justifies this practice in the Daily Mail by saying;
"I get my Botox and fillers direct from the manufacturer in the UK, since I am a qualified practitioner. I use exactly the same Botox on Hannah as I use on myself and I feel I am an expert in this field. I'm fully trained so would rather inject Hannah than let someone else do it. That way I know she is getting a safe amount, by someone who knows what they are doing. I know some parents will be horrified but this is my way of protecting my daughter from back-street rip-off merchants.”
Despite this declaration, many news reports claim that she is in fact sourcing the toxin product online, risking unknown source and ingredients within foreign, unregulated imports.
Fazel Fatah, President-Elect of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons is quoted by the paper as being horrified at this news;
“It is shocking to me, as an experienced surgeon, that anyone would buy from the internet and administer Botox into the face of a 16-year-old. Buying Botox or fillers online is extremely dangerous because the buyer has no idea of the source. The product could be contaminated or not completely pure.”
The schoolgirl claims that many of her friends as well as Internet sites and forums aimed at teenagers talk about having Botox treatments at a young age.
She is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying;
“I wanted to have Botox for two reasons - it prevents wrinkles and everyone at my school was talking about having “B”. Appearance is important to me and I don't want to look haggard and ugly by the time I'm 25. Some of my friends told me that the earlier you start to have B, the fewer wrinkles you'll have as an adult.”
However, the manufacturers of Vistabel® (Botox®) and Azzalure® (Dysport®), the botulinum toxin type A products licensed for cosmetic use in the UK, both state that the safety and effectiveness of their products in individuals under 18 years of age have not been demonstrated so its use is not recommended by them.
Another case highlighted by the media this week was that of a 16 year old girl in Wiltshire who lied about her age to a medical practitioner, claiming to be 18, at a friend’s Botox Party in order to receive treatment after school friends had boasted about buying kits online.
So are we as a society putting undue pressure on young girls to conform to a notion of beauty and appearance being at the forefront of human achievements, and driving them towards seeking such injectable treatments, which despite a forth-coming self-regulation scheme are predominantly unregulated and easily sourced?
The recent television series Extreme Parental Guidance by self professed Super Nanny Jo Frost, conducted a study which showed that even girls as young as six perceived themselves as being larger than they really were and that many already wanted to be thinner when presented with a variety of digitally altered images of themselves.
On chatting to the girls who took part in the test, Jo found that many were aware of their own mother’s complaints about inadequacies with a variety of areas of their own faces and bodies, which in turn transmitted a negative effect onto their daughters and how they viewed themselves.
The case of Hannah Burge perhaps illustrates this very fact and explains the new ‘Teen Toxing’ phenomenon; if your mother has spent £500,000 looking for the perfect face and body will you ever believe that what nature gave you is good enough?