Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:16 am on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho Conservative, East Surrey 10:16 am, 16th October 2020

That is an excellent point.

We should not be allowing our young people to face these risks—not only the medical and financial risk, but the psychological risk. It is damaging for a person to go for a cosmetic procedure that they think will fundamentally change their life and then for something to go wrong or for them to realise that that was not the thing that was going to make them happy in the first place. I am very happy that we will hopefully be able to address all those things through this Bill.

There are medical procedures that young people need, such as cosmetic procedures because they have some sort of facial disfigurement, for example, or procedures for migraines, bladder dysfunction, face and eyelid twitching or excessive sweating. They would still be allowed under this Bill, so no one should be worried that they would not be able to get the medical help they need.

Returning to the point about social media, we have all seen the deeply worrying statistics showing how the young people of our age are different from our generation, when we were young. Young people now are more anxious and depressed and have a lower sense of self-worth, and that starts in their early teens because of how social media helps them to see themselves and their standing in the world. The availability of these procedures, particularly if they are unregulated, will make people question themselves more and think, “Maybe I should go and make a change. Maybe I should change my face, my jawline, my nose, my lips.” The ability to access unregulated procedures almost forces the question in a very damaging way.

People have talked about the effect on boys and girls—both sexes undergo these procedures. The unrealistic images on social media lead to a very damaging cycle by setting up a view of beauty that boys take on and girls then want to live up to. I have seen the results of scientific experiments in which young children are presented with a range of images and are asked which are the beautiful ones. They are now starting to pick out the ones that are cosmetically enhanced. That is incredibly damaging.