Monday, July 31, 2017

About the eye surgeries popular among Asians

PLASTIC SURGEONS are claiming that the popularity of eye surgery among Asians is not an attempt to appear more Caucasian.

About 1.43 million people had the medical procedures done in 2014. It's so prevalent that a former Korean president had the operation while he was in office.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), eyelid surgery was one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures last year. The surgery continues to retain its popularity, not just as a solution for drooping eyelids, but also as a way for patients to tweak a facial feature and achieve the aesthetic look they desire."

Before and after eyelid surgery

According to Los Angeles plastic surgeon Peter Lee, MD, who regularly performs the operation on his patients in the growing Asian/American community in Southern California, the procedure is far from a means of cultural rejection. “

"When we describe ‘Asian double eyelid surgery,’ we are referring to creating a supratarsal fold, or a crease” explains Dr. Lee. “An antiquated term that was once used is ‘occidental eyelid surgery,’ which gives a connotation that we are trying to Westernize Asians. However, it has never been about Westernization; it’s about accentuation and enhancement to bring out the aesthetics of the eyes.”

Hmm. I'm not sure about that last statement. The standard of beauty has been dominated by Europe values for centuries, perpetuated by Europe's aggressive colonization of non-Western civilizations, countries and cultures. As the U.S. became a world power, it became the standard bearer of what is attractive through the power of popular culture.

Asian double eyelid surgery involves removing a fatty upper lid and creating a crease in Asian eyes that are absent of a fold. The procedure, which allows the eyes to appear wider, has been criticized as an attempt to westernize Asian eyes and shed cultural identity.

Others do not view the brief surgery (which lasts about an hour) as a way to appear more Caucasian, but as a permanent solution to getting bigger, brighter eyes.

The surgery, more accurately called a blepharoplasty, i
s not without consequences. 

According to recent report published in the Asian Journal of Ophthalmology,e Asian eyelid measures 7.49 millimeters, while the Caucasian eyelid measures 10 millimeters.

So when plastic surgeons use Caucasian calculations on Asian eyes, the results can be undesirable. The patients might end up with a perpetual look of surprise.  That look is correctable - with another surgery.

TV host Julie Chen admitted that she had eye surgery to change 
her appeparance.

Although the American surgeons claim that the surgery is not to attain a more western appearance, the history of eye surgery among Asians and Asian/Americans is hard to dispute.

The American surgeon who introduced the surgery to Korea, Dr. Ralph Millard, was a military surgeon stationed in South Korea 1950-53.

In a 1964 edition of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, Millard wrote that "the absence of the puerperal fold produces a passive expression which seems to epitomize the stoical and unemotional manner of the oriental." He wrote that he had the first opportunity to try the operation when "a slant-eyed Korean interpreter, speaking excellent English, came in requesting to be made into a 'round-eye.'"

Business Insider cited a 1993 study of 11 Asian/American women in the San Francisco Bay Area who received plastic surgery, ethnographer Eugenia Kaw found that patients underwent plastic surgery in order to "escape persisting racial prejudice that correlates their stereotyped genetic physical features ('small, slanty' eyes and a 'flat' nose) with negative behavioral characteristics, such as passivity, dullness, and a lack of sociability."

Certainly, 11 women don't make a trend but take a look at some of the big movie stars in the Philippines, India and even in Japan and South Korea. If they are not already of mixed raced (usually white) many of them have had the eye and/or nose surgeries to slightly alter their appearance.

K-Pop stars may be setting new standards of beauty in Korea.

Perhaps, surgeons, aware of the racial aspect of the surgeries, may just be giving their patients a reason to submit to the procedures when they claim they don't want to look "too" Caucasian.

One writer, 
Atlantic writer Zara Stone, wrote that eyelid surgery is also strongly linked to the global phenomenon of K-Pop (think "Gangnam Style" and Girls Generation).

"K-pop has created a completely new beauty aesthetic that nods to Caucasian features but doesn't replicate them," like the big eyes that are so dominant in pop culture, she says.

The big eyes, small faces, and perky noses that are hallmarks of beauty in Korea aren't natural to most Koreans, said Cultural critic Moonwon Lee in the Korean Herald.