Editor’s Note: This story originally published April 17, 2018. It was updated April 18, 2018, to reflect additional statements from Apple, Google and Sharon Haywood, director and founder of AnyBody Argentina.
Various news outlets have reported on the plethora of kids apps that appear to be making plastic surgery and other forms of body alterations into a game this month.
Apps like “Beauty Clinic Plastic Surgery,” “Princess Plastic Surgery,” “Celebrity Plastic Surgery” and “Princess Nose Surgery” all revolve around the same concept: altering a person’s body (typically a woman) to appear however the user wants her to appear, the assumption being prettier.
“Princess Plastic Surgery,” is listed as intended for mature audiences and all the above-mentioned apps are listed as OK for a teen audience in the Google Play store.
Apple removes plastic-surgery apps
All the Moms looked into this issue and noticed Apple removed select games from its iOS app store. This comes after a petition called for the removal of such content aimed at minors.
In a statement to All the Moms, a spokesman from 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.”
The apps were still available in the Google Play store as of April 18.
In a statement to All the Moms, Google said:
“While we don’t comment on specific apps, we do have strict policies in place to prohibit apps in the Families collection on Google Play that promote negative self-image or low self-esteem, regardless of theme or intended user age group. We’re taking the feedback from the community very seriously & are working to ensure that these apps are in compliance with our policies.”
Petition to put an end to plastic-surgery apps aimed at kids
These apps have ignited fury among more than 120,000 online users, as seen by the petition titled “Stop Cosmetic Surgery Apps Aimed At Kids #SurgeryIsNotAGame,” filed by Endangered Bodies NYC and seven other chapters of the Endangered Bodies organization on Change.org.
The petition in-part says:
“Young people are being told that their bodies are their sole value — and that they will never be enough as they are.
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.”
The organization also claims in the petition that the apps are targeted toward the tween age group, which is vulnerable to “body-toxic culture.”
What is Endangered Bodies?
According to its website, Endangered Bodies is an organization that aims to “expose the industries that profit from body insecurity, to challenge sexual objectification, to call out size discrimination, and to create social conditions which will enable girls to grow up loving — not hating or rejecting — their bodies.”
Sharon Haywood, founder and director of the Argentine chapter of Endangered Bodies, “AnyBody Argentina,” told All the Moms the organization “is not asking the three platforms to simply remove apps for children that contain cosmetic surgery procedures.
“We tried that approach in 2014 and it was ineffective, so instead, we are requesting that each platform develop an official policy to regulate these apps in the name of truly protecting their youngest users.”
In 2014, Endangered Bodies attempted to have cosmetic-surgery apps removed. Apple and Google quietly removed the apps only to have other similar apps appear on the platform a short time later, she said.
Haywood emphasized that Endangered Bodies is taking a stand against cosmetic-surgery apps, which it views as solely “focused on aesthetics.”
“Endangered Bodies is not petitioning against plastic-surgery apps focused on medical reconstruction, as a child who’s interested in medicine might find some value in such games,” Haywood said.
Most perplexing, Haywood said, is that Endangered Bodies has been trying to start a dialogue with these software giants for a long time, but they have yet to respond to calls for conversation.
Bravo Kids Media apps appear to have been removed from Apple iOS store
When All the Moms investigated further, it found that all apps created by “Bravo Kids Media,” a huge propagator of body-alteration apps aimed at youth audiences, had been removed from the iOS Apple store.
Other developers’ apps mentioned above have also been removed.
However, Endangered Bodies pointed out, “cosmetic surgery procedures can also be found in children’s apps, such as makeover apps.”
Haywood said many of these apps have features that include lip fillers, botox and other medical procedures intended for cosmetic uses.
“These apps send a clear and negative message that what is valued in society is attaining the ‘perfect’ body,” she said.
Bravo Kids Media has not responded to requests for comment.