Cosmetic eye surgery in Korea
So, about epicanthic folds. I heard it said on a TV show this morning that 52 percent of Korean university girls have had an operation to remove their epicanthi, which results in rounder, more Western looking eyes. Over 80 percent of female Korean students want to have the operation sometime in the future. The Japanese call this kind of routine cosmetic surgery プチ整形 (petit cosmetic surgery), which is pronounced "poochi seikei". An English equivalent might be something like "a simple nip and tuck".
A lot of Japanese people have very negative reactions to this wanton poochi seikei-ing of the Koreans, but is it really that different from any other form of socially acceptable physical modification? It's all cultural, man, so get hip with the cultural relativism yo. (It's not all good, tho.) People get turned off by the Korean deepicanthusing for a couple main reasons: 1. It's recent, so it's not a cultural practice backed by years of tradition. The Indians have their nose piercings, the Kayapo Indians of Brazil have their lip plates (which are pretty stupid looking, no matter how hard I try to be culturally unbiased) and the Japanese have their ganguro. Okay, bad examples, but you get my point. 2. It is altering the eyes, the most expressive part of one's body, the windows to the soul. Get a tattoo, pierce your septum, get a sex change, but don't mess with your eyes! People think that altering your eyes will somehow fundamentally and irreversibly alter who you are.
Funny thing is, the surgery is for the most part not frowned upon by the older generation of Koreans. (Most people don't like ganguro chicks...except for other ganguro chicks.) In fact, Mr. Kims across Korea are buying their little Kims eye surgeries as high school graduation gifts! The surgery has become, within a very short period of time, an acceptable part of modern-day Korean culture. Is that totally MENTAL or what?
My fiancée, who just so happens to be Korean, was having eye pains several months ago for unknown reasons. She saw a doctor to see what could be done, and guess what he recommended? To have her epicanthi removed! Fortunately the second doctor she saw thought that was rubbish advice, so she is, thankfully, still an Intact Mongoloid.
Her sister, however, shelled out the money for the snip snip, and is now living quite happily with round eyes. So why do they do it? Are they enamored with Western ideals of beauty? Do they just think that it looks more beautiful? Or has it already reached the point where they have no idea why they do it, aside from the reason that everyone else is doing it (which tells you when something has really become ingrained in a culture).
Whatever the motives, cosmetic surgery is only going to become more widespread and affordable in the years to come, so we'd better learn to live with it. And once the majority of the world's people have bought their perfect bodies, the standards of beauty will become reversed, and fat, acne-ridden people Coke bottle glasses and buck teeth will grace the cover of GQ and Elle, sex symbols for the new era.
But we'd better hold off on the more major alterations until medical technology has improved a bit. Remember what happened to Wacko Jacko.