KCET "LIFE AND TIMES" INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT 3/22/99

With Sheri Meyers Gantman. Interviewed by Val Zavala

HUGH>> COMING UP. WHAT DO YOU TELL A TEENAGE DAUGHTER WHO IS OBSESSED WITH HER LOOKS?

COSMETIC SURGERY IS NO LONGER THE DOMAIN OF THE 40 PLUS SET. OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS, NEARLY A THIRD OF ALL COSMETIC SURGERY WAS PERFORMED ON PEOPLE UNDER 35 YEARS OLD. AND AMAZINGLY AMONG TEENAGERS, THE MOST POPULAR PROCEDURES ARE NOW NOSE JOBS, LIPOSUCTION AND BREAST AUGMENTATION.

IS COSMETIC SURGERY A GOOD IDEA FOR YOUR TEENAGER? L.A. BASED FAMILY THERAPIST, SHERI MEYERS GANTMAN TALKS WITH VAL ZAVALA AND HAS SOME ADVICE.

VAL>> SHERI MEYERS GANTMAN, YOU ARE A PSYCHOTHERAPIST. YOU WORK WITH CHILDREN, FAMILIES, ADULTS AND HAVE NO DOUBT WITNESSED AS I HAVE THE INCREDIBLE EXPLOSION IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING FOR COSMETIC SURGERY.

NEARLY A THIRD OF ALL COSMETIC SURGERY WAS PERFORMED ON PEOPLE UNDER 35 YEARS OLD. AND AMAZINGLY AMONG TEENAGERS, THE MOST POPULAR PROCEDURES ARE NOW NOSE JOBS, LIPOSUCTION AND BREAST AUGMENTATION.

IS COSMETIC SURGERY A GOOD IDEA FOR YOUR TEENAGER? L.A. BASED FAMILY THERAPIST, SHERI MEYERS GANTMAN TALKS WITH VAL ZAVALA AND HAS SOME ADVICE.

VAL>> SHERI MEYERS GANTMAN, YOU ARE A PSYCHOTHERAPIST. YOU WORK WITH CHILDREN, FAMILIES, ADULTS AND HAVE NO DOUBT WITNESSED AS I HAVE THE INCREDIBLE EXPLOSION IN THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE GOING FOR COSMETIC SURGERY.

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> ABSOLUTELY. MEN AND WOMEN; HOWEVER, THERE IS ANOTHER GROWING TREND THAT IS TERRIFYING. KIDS ARE GOING IN FOR BREAST AUGMENTATION. GOING IN FOR THE NOSE JOBS.

VAL>> HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> YES. I HAVE SEEN THIS. I HAVE HEARD IT AMONG THE YOUTH, AND IT'S GETTING FINANCED BY THE PARENTS.

VAL>> THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> AND WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE ARE YOU GIVING YOUR CHILD? WHAT ARE YOU TELLING YOUR CHILD IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

VAL>> AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE TELLING THEM?

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> THAT BEAUTY IS WHAT'S IMPORTANT. BIG BREASTS ARE WHAT'S IMPORTANT. A SMALL NOSE IS WHAT'S IMPORTANT. I THINK A PARENT REALLY HAS TO LOOK AT THE MESSAGE.

A LOT OF KIDS ARE COMING TO THEIR PARENTS AND SAYING YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT FOR MY BIRTHDAY MORE THAN ANYTHING, MORE THAN A CAR. I WANT TO FEEL BETTER ABOUT MYSELF. I WANT TO GET A SMALLER NOSE. I AM SO EMBARRASSED. ALL THE OTHER GIRLS HAVE BREASTS AND I DON'T. YOU HAVE TO REALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE YOU GIVING YOUR CHILD.

VAL>> BUT TEENAGERS, THEIR SELF-ESTEEM ISN'T EVEN FORMED YET. COULDN'T THEY RISK PUTTING TOO MUCH OF THEIR SELF-IDENITY INTO THAT PART OF THEIR ANATOMY? THIS IS DANGEROUS WHEN THEY'RE THAT YOUNG AND STILL FORMING.

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> IF A PARENT IS GOING TO GIVE THEIR CHILD PLASTIC SURGERY, THERE SHOULD ALSO BE THERAPY THAT GOES WITH IT. SO YOU BUILD A SENSE OF SELF, NOT AROUND THE BODY PART THAT SUDDENLY GETTING IMPROVED.

IF YOU ARE AUGMENTING A PIECE OF YOURSELF OR CUTTING AWAY A PIECE OF YOURSELF THAT THAT'S JUST A PIECE OF YOU. IT'S NOT THE WHOLE OF YOU.

FOR EXAMPLE, THERE'S A YOUNG WOMAN WHO AT 17 HAD HER BREAT AUGMENTED. AND IT WAS FINANCED BY HER MOTHER AND EVEN ADVOCATED. I THINK THE MOTHER PUSHED IT. AND NOW SHE'S 30. AND THE FIRST THING THAT WALKS INTO THE ROOM IS HER BREAST. THAT'S WHAT SHE ACCENTS. THAT'S WHAT SHE DRESSES. THAT'S HER IDENTITY. SHE HAS FORMED HER IDENTITY, REINFORCED FROM HER MOTHER, AROUND THIS BODY PART. AND THIS IS WHAT SHE THINKS IS THE KEY TO HER BEAUTY.

VAL>> IT'S AWFULLY HARD TO BRING UP TEENS THESE DAYS TO NOT THINK LOOKS ARE IMPORTANT WHEN IT'S NOT JUST THEIR FRIENDS BUT EVERYTHING THAT EMPHASIZES LOOKS IN THIS SOCIETY. HOW DO YOU FIGHT THAT?

SHERI MEYERS GANTMAN>> ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE.

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> ESPECIALLY WHERE WE LIVE, IN HOLLYWOOD, IN LOS ANGELES, THERE IS SO MUCH BEAUTY ORIENTATION. AND YOU DO GET BETTER JOBS AND BETTER PEOPLE ATTRACTED TO YOU; UNFORTUNATELY, THE PRETTIER YOU ARE. LOOKS DOES BUY ENTRANCE. HOWEVER, LOOKS CHANGE. PEOPLE AGE. OTHER PEOPLE ARE EVEN PRETTIER. AND IF YOU BASE ALL YOUR SELF-ESTEEM ON CHANGING YOUR LOOKS IT'S A VERY EMPTY WORLD. YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO BE PRETTY ENOUGH. HANDSOME ENOUGH. THERE'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE SOMEONE PRETTIER.

WHAT'S MANDATORY IS IF YOU'RE DOING ANY KIND OF PHYSICAL WORK ON YOURSELF TO ALSO DO THE UNDERLYING WORK. AND MAKE SURE THE MESSAGE FROM THE PARENT TO THE TEEN IS YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS CHANGE.

VAL>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> THANK YOU.

VAL>> GREAT ADVICE. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE ON LIFE AND TIMES TONIGHT.

SHERI MEYER GANTMAN>> MY PLEASURE.

HUGH>> THAT'S OUR SHOW FOR TONIGHT. TOMORROW MEET SOME OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA'S MOST COLORFUL CHARACTERS FROM THE WRITERS OF L.A. UNCONVENTIONAL.

(SHOWING CLIP)

KERMAN>> THAT'S COMING UP TOMORROW.

NOW FROM FOR ALL OF US HERE AT LIFE AND TIMES TONIGHT, HAVE A GREAT EVENING. GOOD NIGHT.