The plastified self

The K-Pop Plastic Surgery Obsession

Zara Stone, The Atlantic, 24 May 2013 (via @capcold)

[…] “Most Asians have wide skulls and big faces,” [Dr. Park, a surgeon at the OZ Cosmetic Clinic in Korea] said. “Even a slightly wide jaw can make them look heavy, dull, and mean. Jaw reduction can make their face smaller, slimmer, and nicer.”

This perspective ties into what Dr. Eugenia Kaw calls the “self-racism subtext.” Her research paper, “Medicalization of Racial Features,” focused on how Asian Americans viewed themselves, and how they were influenced by cultural perspectives.” It boils down to physical traits being connected to negative characteristics,” she said. “Now it’s written as if one was trying to right racial ideology. It’s insidious — not like women who opt for surgery out of empowerment and choice.”

I detest physical pain. More than anything else. So much so that I could never have been a spy, soldier or a revolutionary, or be in any situation where I could be tortured; I would otherwise spill the beans too easily.

Now, I am your typical “wide-skulled” Asian woman. With the above as a governing principle, however, plastic surgery has always been a distant and inconceivable world to me.

One thing that I was trying to figure out though is that, putting me aside as an extreme case of a wuss, I still felt that peer/social pressure didn’t seem to explain the full extent of the phenomenon. The aforelinked Atlantic article has then confirmed that I really didn’t get it. “Self-racism”!!! Never looked at it that way, but now I have, what a powerful – possibly insightful – explanation it is.

20130527_Lims_selfportrait(A self-portrait of the comedian/painter Lim Hyeok-Pil, who, as far as I know, was the first to openly discuss his experience of a jaw reduction surgery in the media. To be fair to him, his case was said to be more medical than cosmetic. This illustration was originally posted on Lim’s Cyworld mini-homepy and the version displayed here is from a news article in the Voice of People.)

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