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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Tsai

Are Americans hypocrites when it comes to getting plastic surgery?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “plastic surgery”? Perhaps you’d think of “silicone,” “fake,” or “South Korea.” There is no doubt that Eastern Asians are notorious for obtaining plastic surgery, especially South Koreans. There are advertisement posters pressuring the people to strive for larger eyes, a high nose bridge, v-line jaws, a slim face, and etc. Parents gift the offer of plastic surgery to their children as a graduation present, the beautiful doll-like features of K-POP stars lure the fans to go under the knife, and whenever you visit your extended family back in Korea, the first thing they say is how you can beautify yourself by receiving plastic surgery. Eventually, if you did not alter any part of your face, then you become the weird one. This all might sound foreign or at least non-relatable to the non-Eastern Asian demographic. It might also sound ridiculous, giving a plastic surgery consultation as a graduation present to a high school student? What is appealing about a high nose bridge and double eyelids? That is so rude, your family members pointing out all the flaws you have and how having “another face” would bring more benefits! Well, this trend is not only prevalent in South Korea. In fact, the U.S. has been also seeing a dramatic increase in plastic surgery procedures over the last decade. Therefore, with all things considered, is it appropriate to judge East Asians for being “obsessed” with plastic surgery?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there has been nearly a 200% increase in cosmetic procedures since 2000. Although there hasn’t been an exact statistics report on the same information, one can assume that the percentage would be similar to South Korea. Furthermore, Americans are also known for altering parts of their body, especially the breasts, the stomach, and any parts when removed, results in a hourglass figure. For example, among the 1.8 million surgical procedures performed in 2017, breast augmentation and tummy tuck were two of the most popular ones in the American population (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2018). Once in a while, we will see a news article about a woman or a man who spent thousands of dollars to remove some of their ribs, amplify their breasts, and receive numerous botox to resemble a doll figure. Sometimes, we will encounter someone in the news who spent nearly a fortune to parallel their look to their favorite celebrity. For instance, Jennifer Pamplona and Claire Leeson spent about $47,000 and $18,000, respectively, to look like Kim Kardashian, a reality tv star who was speculated to have received buttock implants (Nicki Swift). Although the hourglass figure and resembling a doll trend is not seen in the East Asian community, there is a similarity of yearning to resemble a favorite celebrity, and they want to fit in with the beauty standards that their society places on these two demographics. If you replace double eyelid surgery and rhinoplasty with breast augmentation and liposuction, then America will become the #1 country for plastic surgery.

Moreover, famed American celebrities like Lisa Kudrow (actress from Friends), Chrissy Teigen (host from Lip Sync Battle), Jillian Michaels (television personality fitness trainer), and the Kardashians family are major normalizers for cosmetic surgeries like lip injection and buttock implants in America. Just like in Eastern Asia, popular public figures from of prestigious Idol-producing companies set the beauty standards in which many teenagers and the general population follow. These procedures became normalized in society, influencing many people to risk their health for the pursuit of “beauty.” One of the most concerning consequences of normalizing these procedures is the growing amount of Botox parties (a social gathering where Botox injections are given by un-certified beauticians) in America, leading to potential health risks. Cosmetic surgeries are not at all out of the ordinary in America, and therefore for Americans to question East Asians for choosing to undergo the cosmetic scalpels can be seen as hypocritical.

With all sides considered, there is nothing wrong with plastic surgery, as beauty

is a subjective choice, and there is no reason to stop one from wanting to improve their own appearances in the way they deem the best for themselves. However, Americans judging or accusing East Asians on getting plastic surgeries may be insincere because they also choose to receive some of the same procedures and have similar incentives that Eastern Asians are criticized for. Although not all Americans and Eastern Asians experience plastic surgeries, the stigma around them creates an environment where everyone, regardless if they have undergone a procedure, is potentially subjected to question.  

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