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