Why Would a Healthy 12-Year-Old Get Eyelid Surgery?

K. Mathews on 27 May 2011 at 2:00pm

Twelve may seem young to have plastic surgery, but that didn’t stop Lee Min Kyong from undergoing blepharoplasty. Even though smaller eyes are a common Korean feature, Lee believed that wider eyes would make her look more beautiful. Lee’s mother, Jang, was the one who encouraged the procedure. “This is a society where you have to be pretty to get ahead,” Jang said.

On the surface, Lee’s story, chronicled in a CNN video report (see below), seems like another alarming case of parents who allow their kids to get surgery at too young of an age. (We’ve recently posted about kids with ear tucks, juvenile bariatric surgery, and the Botox mom.) However, Lee is hardly an isolated case. Lee’s doctor, Dr. Kim Byung-gun, performs 100 such surgeries per day in his Seoul office (all ages). In Korea, blepharoplasty is not only common, but acceptable, even among young girls. So although our inclination might be to act horrified, Jang’s decision is not one that people in her own culture will judge her for.

double eyelid surgery before and afterA few years ago, Time reported on Asia’s plastic surgery obsession. Although Korea is one of the prime examples with 10% of Koreans having had some sort of cosmetic enhancement, other countries such as Taiwan perform more than one million surgeries each year. In China, the number of patients cannot even be estimated due to the amount of unregulated plastic surgery facilities.

As Hollywood movies and magazines have infiltrated Asian nations, so too have standards of Western beauty. Women now want the “wider eyes, longer noses, [and] fuller breasts” of American celebrities, despite that these traits are not common in Asian women. Therefore, they turn to surgical alterations to achieve these looks for them.

Korean ads

While the trend is probably worrisome to most of us, maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Because many Americans already meet the ideals of Western beauty, these surgeries are not always something we even have to consider. It’s easier to condemn these procedures when we’re born with traits that the world cherishes as attractive.

Besides, Asian nations aren’t the only ones who look favorably toward plastic surgery. We’ve seen how Venezuelans love breast augmentation, and Floridians favor Brazilian butt lifts. In some Jewish circles, nose jobs are as much as a rite of passage for teen girls as Bat-Mitzvahs.

What do you think? When cultures largely accept certain procedures as a part of a normal beauty regiment no different than dyeing hair and applying makeup, have things gone too far? 

blepharoplasty before and after

Photo credit: CNN, LoveKoreanGirl.blogspot.com, UglyM.com


Comments (5)

Another dumb american posting an article they know nothing about. Please. Asians dont get eyelid surgery to look white. We dont want to have manly features or look 10x as old .
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I think people are too quick to judge. Only about 20% of Asians are born with double eyelids (I am not Asian BTW), so they are only desiring a trait that is part of their race, but rare (like Caucasians wanting to have platinum blond hair). They also like wide foreheads, non-wide cheeks and pointy chins, like anime characters- which are NOT western ideals. So yes, the ideals of beauty have "globalized" but there are regional flavors of it. Also, if you look a thousands-old Asian female paintings (well before any Western influence), their ideal of beauty was much similar (very light skin, broad forehead, pointy chin). So let's not be so arrogant to think that is just because they just want to look like us. There may be some ideals of beauty pre-wired in our collective subconscious after all.

About the little girl, I think that if she is going to do it in a few short years in any case, why not do it now and make her happy. Is not major surgery.
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i am asian and broad forehead one of the not pretty things from my view or my society, and yeah i need those BANG....
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12 seems young for *cosmetic* surgery. Why not wait until high school at least?
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