Cosmetic surgery and ethnicity

Cosmetic surgery used to be the preserve of the rich and famous. But now many ordinary citizens are paying surgeons to alter their bodies. New York Times reports that different ethnic groups request different sorts of procedures, which track particular cultural ideals of beauty and attractiveness.

3 thoughts on “Cosmetic surgery and ethnicity

  1. I don’t think this is anything new. How many people of African ancestry have their noses shaped to be more Caucasian? Conversely, how many Caucasians have their lips puffed out or their eyes tucked to look more exotic? Ironically enough, how many Asians have their eyes sculpted to look less Asian/more Caucasian?

    The point is, we live in a culture that doesn’t celebrate what we actually look like. People, women especially, are constantly under scrutiny about aesthetics, and the scary part is that our “standards” of photos and even video are digitized so that every pixel is somehow manipulated or messed with. We don’t know what anyone looks like anymore, and it creates impossible standards.

    Raise your hand if you think plastic surgery is hideous….

  2. What’s new are the more specific cultural trends that are emerging in different ethnic groups. The older, published feminist literature on cosmetic surgery talks about things such as the dominating ideal of Caucasian beauty, with Chinese, Korean, etc. people choosing to have their eyelids changed to look more like Caucasian eyelids, people of Jewish and African-American descent having their noses changed to look more Caucasian and so on. But according to the NYT article, there are now different cultural standards being perpetuated, which are more closely linked to different ethnic ideas about what is beautiful. So, e.g., it is apparently becoming more common for Chinese people to request ear lobe filler, because large ear lobes are seen as auspicious in China. Whilst Caucasian women get fat removed from their bottoms to make them smaller, women of Hispanic descent get fat added to their bottoms to make them larger.

    Of course, this ties in to impossible standards of beauty being held up for everyone, etc. etc. But there seemed no need to reiterate that argument on this blog. This post was merely intended as more up-to-date information on trends in cosmetic surgery, for anyone who is interested in this issue.

    I should perhaps have said all that in the post!

  3. I found that article very irritating, because it mixed together two types of cases–the one where an ethnic group aspires to it’s own “look” and another where it aspires to the dominant group’s look. Since in both cases, the ethnic group makes distinctive requests in plastic surgery offices, it was made to look as if this was some sort of pleasing multicultural phenomenon, like the diversity of foods. But no, half of the cases are ones where people are not celebrating differences, but trying to obscure them.

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