This is a real-world example of intersectionality that describes how ethnicity and gendered norms interact in women’s lives.
From the article: “The majority of facial cosmetic operations performed on Asians are considered “Westernizing” procedures. Two of the most popular, nose jobs (rhinoplasty) and eyelid lifts (blepharoplasty), are specially designed to make these features look more Caucasian.”
Interestingly, often it is the parents of who encourage younger women to undergo these procedures.
Even though I do disagree with the idea of getting surgery just to look more Caucasian, but I have seen first hand the ways that many of today’s Asian youth have been pressured into getting these types of surgeries. My cousin is full Filipino and when she moved to South Korea for a teaching opportunity she explained feeling extremely pressured to have surgery on her “flat” nose, mono-lids, and to even go as far as lightening her naturally dark skin. Her parents never pushed her though into wanting any of these surgeries so it makes me believe that it’s more of the Eastern Asians like it said in the article. My cousin was so torn about what to do while she was in South Korea, but then she heard a friend say that they just wanted to look more western, which was also mentioned in the article. That’s when she ultimately decided against getting any surgeries because she had already lived in a western country (USA) and had seen that in the United States that there was no one real ideal look regarding beauty. Here we all look different and we all have our own beauty to embrace. My cousin tried to spread this knowledge to her South Korean friends, but it fell to deaf ears. I just feel as though to each his own unless they are pressured into anything.
I find this so interesting because Americans usually find tan skin and a thin figure an ideal image. While some people of Asian backgrounds want to be fair skinned and have more pointed facial features. It kind of goes back to that old saying “people always want what they cannot have”, however in this case, people can, but that is not necessarily a good thing. As the article stated, plastic surgery is very popular in Asia and therefore, facial reconstruction is more attainable. Likewise, in America people want to be tan and skinny so badly that they buy tanning packages, undergo liposuction, and there is a greater amount of eating disorders in America trying to attain a certain image.
I learned a lot about this topic in my study abroad class (I was studying in Thailand.) I was warned that people will stare at me due to my appearance (being extremely fair and naturally blonde), however, I was not prepared to be constantly photographed. My teacher was not exaggerating when she said they find it amazing that someone could be so naturally fair. When I visited a small school in a hill tribe, little girls complemented my complexion. However, I told them that I thought their skin was beautiful and that my culture adores it. They simply laughed and thought I was exaggerating. It is amazing what different cultures idealize and how different they truly can be.
The fact that I am Caucasian has blinded me to a lot that goes on around me. This was the way I was born, this is the way I look, and that is how it is. Then I read articles like this and realize how incredibly sad it is to know that other ethnicities perform surgeries just so they can have features of a Caucasian. We have different ethnicities and features for a reason, and honestly if everyone looked the same the world would be very dull. Especially discovering the mother who wanted her 8 year old son to undergo the eyelid plastic surgery, this is a child who is still developing and whose features will continue to change as he ages. When parents want their children to go under the knife to change their appearance it is sending the message that they are not perfect, they are not beautiful, and they will not be good enough until their looks are changed. Situations such as these just tell people that they will not be welcomed by society until they appear to be what they think is beautiful. Beauty comes in many forms, everyone is born with their own beauty and that is not something that should be altered.