Cosmetic procedures remain popular worldwide for many reasons. Patients may seek to change their bodies or faces to improve self-confidence, appear more attractive to interviewers or even to fix a medical problem such as a deviated septum.
In Asia, the boom in cosmetic surgery is even more pronounced. South Korea has been declared the plastic surgery capital of the world. Even in Europe, Australia and the United States, surgeons like Dr. Ellis Choy have developed unique approaches to plastic surgery for the Asian population. This article explores how and why cosmetic surgery became so popular in Asia through the lens of the local culture.
When an elective cosmetic surgery can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000, it’s no wonder, then, that incomes must rise in order to create a demand for it. In addition, because many surgeons see potential in the industry, more and more doctors are electing to practice cosmetic surgery over other fields of medicine.
With rising incomes, however, has also come a widening gender pay gap in countries like China. As a result, some journalists say that Asian women are more concerned with appearances than ever before, since they view finding a husband with a higher salary as a source of financial stability.
In many Asian cultures, traditional standards of Eastern beauty embrace big eyes, snowy white skin, narrow jawlines and thin lips. According to plastic surgeons like Li Binbin, these societies place value on what does not occur naturally in the Asian population. It makes sense, then, that double eyelid surgery would be the most popular procedure, since most Asians are born with a slanted monolid eyelid.
These beauty standards are so deeply ingrained in Asian culture that in countries like South Korea, headshots must be submitted with job applications. This is because the culture believes that an attractive person who takes care of their appearance will also take care of their work responsibilities. Thus, not only is it common to get cosmetic surgery to correct any perceived faults, but it is also common to use photoshop to airbrush one’s headshot.
K-Pop – Korean pop music and the culture surrounding it – has become so popular that it has gained a worldwide appeal. Asians and Asian-Americans alike value the stars behind their favorite bands. For many K-pop-obsessed teenagers, fandom means more than singing along to “Gangnam Style”: it means supporting and even replicating the surgeries that have given K-pop stars their airbrushed, childlike appearance.
Korea’s music industry ensures that K-pop stars look and sound the way their management dictates. In the case of some girl groups, this means undergoing $90,000 worth of cosmetic surgery. K-pop stars have even begun to endorse plastic surgery clinics on their social media, leading many Asian teenagers to believe that they, too, need double-eyelids and slim jawlines to be “pretty.”
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