Bullying drives young woman to plastic surgery
Posted May 14, 2015
Rolesville, N.C. — Rolesville teenager Amy Arnold put up with bullying taken to an extreme. The teasing began when she was in second grade.
"I cried every night. I didn't even want to go to school," she said.
Classmates ridiculed her nose.
"They were like, 'You look like Toucan Sam from the Fruit Loops box,'" Arnold said.
She became so depressed that she didn't care about school. She didn't even want to get out of bed and face another day. She thought about suicide.
Although she didn't go so far as to take her own life, Arnold took extreme measures to end the abuse.
She scoured the Internet for solutions and learned about rhinoplasty – plastic surgery on the nose.
"I was doing research on it, looking on YouTube at people’s stories, how they got rhinoplasty, and I was like, that could be a good thing to do," she said.
Arnold discussed the idea with her parents. They met with Dr. Adam Stein, a facial plastic surgeon in Raleigh.
"I was like, 'I'm going to get this surgery,'" she said. "My family had doubts of course."
Stein said it was obvious that Arnold was in serious pain.
"She was pretty emotionally traumatized," he said.
Still, it's not an easy decision for Stein to operate on a teen.
"It's a life-changing experience," he said. "It's not like getting a haircut. If you don't like it, you can let your hair grow back and try again."
Arnold impressed Stein with her maturity.
"This was one of those times where I was actually wholeheartedly recommending the surgery," he said.
On Aug. 21, Arnold had the surgery. She documented her journey in a YouTube video aimed at giving strength to other young people who are bullied.
Even before the swelling subsided, Arnold said she felt better.
"It's like I'm looking at a new person and a better person. I'm more confident," she said. "I actually can talk to people and not be shy. I can make friends. I just feel great about myself."
Like any teen, Arnold indulges now in selfies. She even sends some to Stein. She calls him her hero.
"It really brings me back to why I do what I do – it's all about having people feel better about themselves," he said. "With Amy, it's clearly made a huge difference in her life."
Both Arnold and Stein emphasized that surgery is not a cure for bullying. It should be a last resort and one not chosen lightly.
More important, Arnold said, is treating others with respect and knowing that you can't change what's on the inside.
"You need to think about what you say because anyone that gets bullied will go through anything to make it stop," she said.
Arnold said she makes a special effort to befriend those she sees who are being bullied because she knows what it feels like.
"I’ll go sit with them and have lunch with them because I was in their shoes before, and I would never do such a thing to anybody," she said.