In order to write a piece about the plastic surgery craze in South Korea, I decided to start off by researching its beginnings. Notably one of the most popular surgeries of all time, double eyelid surgeries are very much prevalent in Asia not only because women yearn to achieve a Western look, but also because having big round eyes is what is considered beautiful in Korea. However, during the 1800’s, when the eyelid surgery first developed, it was primarily performed for reasons beyond aesthetics.
Most people believe that the double eyelid surgery was created as an attempt to westernize Asian features. The double eyelid surgery creates a crease on the top of the eye in order to lift the eyelid, effectively augmenting the outline of the eye. All Caucasians have deep double eyelids. However, some Asians lack muscles in their eyelids, muscles that naturally create creases, setting apart Asians who are born with double eyelids from those who are not. Though this is a key aspect of why the procedure is so popular in Asia, many are unaware that the surgery actually came into being in order to make some Asian women look more like the Asian norm. The double eye-lid operation was first developed in Japan in 1896, and was considered an “indicator of beauty by writers and artists of that time period,” according to Mikamo, a nineteenth-century Japanese physician who reported the first cases of this procedure. Approximately 18 percent of Japanese women were born with single eyelids, and hence, having double eyelids was considered the norm in Japan and those with single eyelids were considered “monotonous and impassive.”
However, as Asian and Western interactions became more substantial during the early 1900’s, Western presence introduced new trends of beauty to Asia, and basically changed the implications of Asian cosmetic surgery, especially in South Korea. Some people don’t even consider the double eyelid procedure as plastic surgery anymore because new and more drastic surgical procedures are catching the eyes of young Korean females. These include surgeries that contract jawbone structures, creating, in effect, a pointier chin. This may not be ideal in Western countries, but now Asians harbor desires that go beyond just a western look; these include having an unusually small head, or a wide and round forehead. These surgeries seem to merge Western and Asian beauty standards.
In order to find out more about how the concept of beauty has changed in South Korea, I will interview a Korean plastic surgeon in New York City. My aim is to find out how much surgery I would have to go through to reach the standards of perfection in Korea.
Website to the Plastic Surgery Clinic NYC: ESK Facial Plastic Surgery
I will be interviewing Miss Korea 2010, famous for her natural beauty, which she tries very hard to prove in this Korean program: Miss Korea 2012