A number of free games have cropped up on Apple’s app store that seemingly promote cosmetic surgery and beauty ideas through colourful graphics and fun characters.
The games have been criticised by experts, including Australia’s Butterfly Foundation, a group tackling eating disorders and body image issues. The foundation’s education manager, Danni Rowlands said: “Marketing cosmetic surgery to children is harmful and wrong. To encourage cutting into a face, for an adolescent with mental health issues, is dreadful.”
One game, named Plastic Surgery Simulator is available for free on Apple’s iTunes and is rated as suitable for ages 12+. In the description of the game, it states: “every girl dreams of delicate face and stunning figure. If makeup can’t give the beauty you want, then come to join this amazing plastic surgery game!”
Worryingly, the description also specifies it is aimed at girls and kids in particular. The game allows users to simulate surgical procedures including nose jobs, facelifts and liposuction. Other games which have been criticised include Mermaid’s Plastic Surgery and Plastic Surgery Princess.
This isn’t the first time a game has been criticised for targeting young children with inappropriate content. In 2014, a game called Plastic Surgery for Barbie was removed from iTunes and Google Play following complaints. The game, which was in no way affiliated with the Mattel company, was described by former British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Niger Mercer as “sexist and disturbing.”
Following concerns that some forms of cosmetic surgery advertising are trivialising serious medical procedures, it would seem that games of this nature would fall into the same category. Although not directly created to promote cosmetic surgery, there is an indirect link which must be addressed in order to protect young children from potentially damaging content.