Bloggers Stirred By Cosmetic Surgery Numbers, Chicago Violence

Host Michel Martin and digital media producer Lee Hill talk about the stories that had Tell Me More listeners buzzing this week. Topics this week: why so many minorities are opting for cosmetic surgery, and why such an alarming number of youth are being killed on the streets of Chicago. Plus, a Texas police officer, who is also an amputee, talks about teaching others to respect differences.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital-media guy, is here with me as always. Hey Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, this week we explored how plastic surgery is on the rise among people of color. Now this is according to a recent report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. But some question whether the growing number of surgeries reflect an even bigger desire among minorities to look more European or white.

Now the two plastic surgeons we spoke with about the trend said most of their patients were interested in enhancing their looks and not so much hiding their natural features. But our listener Rajai(ph) had a different perspective.

RAJAI: A close family member when I was about 15, you know, we were watching a television show about cosmetic surgery, and she said oh, well, I can see where you could use a little bit of a touch-up on your nose. And that was the first time I'd ever thought about my nose.

And I said, well, what do you mean? You know, what sort of touch-up would you do? She said I think it's a little wide. I would reduce it a little bit. I mean, don't be embarrassed, it's just, you know, it would make you look better. African-Americans have wider noses. We have more-full lips. We have fuller features. So there's a connection with reducing your African features and a possibility to a more European look.

MARTIN: Thanks, Rajai. Lee, moving on, we also talked about some of the financial products that are being aggressively marketed to young people and minorities. We featured two personal finance experts who are concerned that some of the credit cards and prepaid customers are just another credit trap.

Blogger Ken wrote about how as a college student, he fell in that trap. He wrote: I thought I was smarter than the credit card companies and that they wouldn't get me. By my junior year, I had more than $2,000 in credit-card debt that I could not repay. It was just too easy to pay for pizza now, even though I didn't have a way to pay for it later. It took two-and-a-half years of minimum payments and large payments from my mom to pay the balance in full. If I only knew what then what I know now.

HILL: Ken, you're preaching to the choir, Lord only knows. But Michel, switching gears here, we also talked about the problem of youth violence in Chicago, where three dozen school-age children have been murdered in the course of the school year.

Now Michel, we did some reporting there last summer and saw first-hand what's going on, but blogger Barry can't understand why what some people call the Obama effect - changes in society since the election of this nation's first black president - hasn't changed the outlook in his adopted home.

He writes: If a black president from your hometown isn't enough of an example of accomplishment and pride, then I just don't know what more to say. Why does it take a program to just get us to do the right thing? Don't kill anyone anymore. That's all. It's really just that simple.

MARTIN: Thank you, Barry. Finally, Lee, in our parenting chat this week, we talked about teaching kids how to respectfully connect with people who have visible disabilities. Our blogger Steven, a police officer in Texas, was glad to hear it. Here's his comment.

STEVEN: I've been a below-knee amputee for 14 years now. I lost my leg when I was trapped between my squad car and cars stopped on a traffic stop in Texas. Parents generally are mortified when the kids come and ask, but I always try to make it a teaching opportunity.

Adults are more standoffish than kids, and I just want them to know their legs aren't going to fall off if I get close to them. And for all those out there with limb differences or otherwise, keep letting people know you are a person, and you have the same feelings and needs as everyone else.

MARTIN: Thank you, Steven, and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more about what you think, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again: 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our Web page, where you'll find even more feedback to our segments. Go to npr.org. Click on the TELL ME MORE tab and blog it out.

Coming up, the late-night comics had fun saying that former Vice President Dick Cheney spent much of his term in an undisclosed location. Now his new favorite spot is in President Obama's face. The Barbershop guys on Cheney's reappearing act. That's next on TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin.

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