For years, 11-year-old Bella Harrington was teased for the way she looked.
According to WRIC, Bella was constantly bullied for her “elf-like” ears that “stuck out too far.” She explained:
“They would always, like, point it out. At first I didn't really care about it, and then the more people pointed it out is when I wanted to change it. I thought that they stuck out way too much.”
Her mom, Sabrina Harrington, said that it was hard to hear that her daughter was being teased for her “elf ears”— something she couldn’t help:
“When she was a baby, the one ear stuck out a lot. She started saying they were being mean, saying different things. I kept telling her, 'It's okay, they don't matter. It doesn't matter what they think.' And it did, to her."
Because of the constant ridicule, Harrington asked to have cosmetic surgery to pin her ears back. Her mom agreed to the procedure.
Sabrina defended her decision, telling WRIC:
“It’s no different than getting braces, that changes your appearance. If it’s going to make you feel better about yourself, so be it.”
According to Dr. Joe Niamtu, the cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly popular among pediatric patients.
He told WRIC that he has seen kids as young as four or five years old have their ears pinned back. In fact, he would prefer children with “protruding ears” to have the procedure done before they even enter school.
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Dr. Niamtu explained that “five percent of the population has protruding ears”:
“We like to treat these children before they enter school, so it’s not uncommon that I’m doing 4 or 5-year-olds. And the reason is bullying, or peer pressure. It’s been shown to psychologically to have the ability to affect their self-esteem or body image for the rest of their life.”
Now, following her surgery in December 2017, Bella is feeling more confident than ever.
She told WRIC that she wears her “hair up a lot” more and that she's no longer "focused on if people can see them.”