Blast on Plast from the Recent Past
NOTE: This is a slightly edited repost of something I wrote on AsiaPages before Jodi switched from Blogspot to Typepad and eradicated her entire old blog. I find out while doing an ego search. It was in response to a post about a Korean CEO wanting to hire Caucasians, I think, which had morphed into the topic of Koreans getting plastic surgery to look Western. This was one of my earlier ventures into blogging, so it's close to my heart.
just several comments that will make my post seem willy-nilly...
koreans getting surgery are not to make themselves look white or western, but to make themselves look different or exotic. when 30% or fewer have double eyelids and 70% or more don't, then surgery would favor the double eyelids or the bigger-looking eyes. it is not about looking western. if people were really to make themselves look truly like someone of european descent -- which is possible -- people would freak out upon seeing her or him.
the jaw and cheekbone shaving is more common than before because of the same reason: a narrower face is considered more delicately beautiful than a wider face. this is not an attempt to look western, either. many koreans look at kathy ireland and think, 'oh my god! how could americans look at that huge jaw and think she's beautiful?!'
white skin being considered beautiful skin is also a concept that predates exposure to the west by centuries. rather than chastising koreans who seek to clarify their skin by removing brown blotches or freckles (which is one of the purposes of the whitening creams), it is insulting to assume that they are giving up their koreanness in favor of a western ideal of beauty. it seems that the people who are so willing to jump to that conclusion are the ones with the inferiority complex.
and that, too, is a good example: freckles. what can be more western-looking in korea than freckles? yet koreans will go to the ends of the earth (or at least the face shop or the department store) to get rid of them. no, the korean ideal of beauty is about having clear whitish yangban skin with interesting slightly exotic looking features. that this coincides a bit with caucasian looking features does not a racist conspiracy make.
now koreans with corn rows on the other hand...
jodi, when people were shocked or in awe that you hadn't had plastic surgery, it was most definitely not an insult. people here don't think it's cool to get plastic surgery, they just think it's acceptable or even normal. what they think is cool is when you can look beautiful without having had any. for what it's worth, take it as a compliment. or at the very least, don't take it as an insult. life in korea is hard enought without searching for shit when it's not there.
as for affirmative action in the states being a justification for this kind of hiring practice in korea, well, at least in california, koreans and other northeast asian groups (e.g., japanese and chinese) and even vietnamese now, i believe, are no longer beneficiaries of affirmative action and haven't been for quite some time. it is simply no justification for doing it here.