Tiny little princess

I didn’t know that South Korea has the highest per capita rate of plastic surgery in the world. Somebody has to have that, naturally, but I’m slightly surprised that’s who does. I might have guessed the US does, if anyone had asked – I suppose because of lots of rich people and lots of advertising, lots of emulation and envy of movie stars and fashion models, lots of consumerism and the values that go with it, lots of reactionary bullshit about women floating around – reasons like that. But no, it’s South Korea.

One in five women in Seoul have undergone some kind of procedure. Most popular: Eyelid surgery, to make the eyes “more Western,” and getting your jawbone shaved or chiseled down for a less-square and more V-shaped look.

Sroll up and down that Jezebel post and look at the before and after photos.

Notice something?

The women all look much more delicate and fragile.

Think about that.


  1. Josh, Official Spokesgay says

    Wow—I noticed that thing about fragility right away too, Ophelia. Yes Anthony, child-like is a good descriptor.

  2. Francisco Bacopa says

    I think a couple of the women in the Gangnam Style video had some of this work done, but most were proudly Korean square jaws.

    But WTF, the woman in the “after” picture doesn’t look European after reducing her epicanthic folds. she just got pushed almost to the Uncanny Valley for me

    As for jaw surgery. I know how painful this can be. I have had three jaw surgeries resulting from being beaten by a twirling baton for being an atheist back when I was in second grade.

    Jaw surgery hurts like hell. Trust me on this.

  3. says

    I would certainly expect jaw surgery to be painful. Godalmighty.

    It’s creepy, this wanting to look like a consumptive child of 6 who would break if she sat down too quickly.

  4. says

    I know that plastic surgery can do wonders nowadays but enlarging the iris?
    So it is either photoshopped or shot with two different models and because the ear on the left side (model’s right ear) seems to look the same in both pictures my bet is on ‘shopped.
    The whole amount of change is also suspicious. I doubt that such large changes (the jawbone got very small and if my knowledge of human anatomy is not absolutely wrong I would define the rests left as paperthin) are even possible.

    I can concur with Anthony K here and, because of the big irises and the v-shaped chin I’ll take it even further: it is anime-like.

  5. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Christoph: The “enlarged iris” is a result of circle lenses. Also the whole makeup thing.

    Also, though the culture of mandatory plastic surgery is messed up, I do feel like I should point out that there are a number of types of eyelids Asian people can have naturally and the approach my not necessarily be to “look white”.

  6. says

    Christoph: The “enlarged iris” is a result of circle lenses.

    Yep, that seems more likely, at least according to Google. But it doesn’t make it better: contact lenses are hard to keep clean and an infection of the eye can get you in a lot of trouble.

    I flipped a bit through the Tumblr site linked to from the article. All of the before/after advertisements are exaggerated to some extend but I found only one that is clearly photoshopped (25.media.tumblr.com/118abbf3ace9dae4b65050afd132b470/tumblr_mgsqriBEsI1rddbxfo1_1280.jpg look at the hairline) but I cannot read Korean and there is something behind the “after” text set in parentheses, so it might say there that it had been digitally manipulated.

    […]the approach my not necessarily be to “look white”.

    My bet is still on “Anime”. The resulting faces look strikingly similar to the typical anime-faces especially since I saw what they do to the boys (they are in a minority but catching up, according to the article): the chin is v-shaped for both sexes—more soft and round for the female characters and more rough and angular for the male ones; the eyes are large and round with the same differences as for the form of the chin.

    And if you remember how women get treated in the average anime you’ll know why I took it further then Anthony K’s child-like.

  7. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Yup, that’s what struck me immediately, they remind me of the women in a lot of Anime. Huge round eyes, small pointed, soft edged chins. Little slightly upturned noses.

  8. MNb says

    “Huge round eyes”
    Ah, that’s what made me feel itchy. I think huge round eyes very unsettling.

  9. blondeintokyo says

    Yes, they’re imitating anime. This eyelid surgery is popular here in Japan, too. The in look is for women to be as thin, waif like, and as vulnerable as possible. Helpless, weak, childlike… If you’re a curvy, strong-minded feminist like me, you just don’t fit in.

    Not that I want to. 🙂

  10. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Definitely the anime influence, which is an exaggerated early adolescent look that has always been popular.

    The problem with doing bone-changing surgery on teens is that their facial bones are still growing, although slowly. What is in proportion after surgery at 16 may be all out of whack when you are 25 and your bones are finished growing … although by then you may be over the hill and married.

  11. Bjarte Foshaug says

    I think “delicate and fragile” is a pretty good summary of the sexist ideal of “femininity”.

  12. rowanvt says

    Some of the women doing this surgery are so amazingly elegant that it makes me incredibly sad that they felt the need to look like a pre-pubescent girl. Frankly, I’ll take ‘elegant’ over ‘pretty’ any day.

    However, I can also see where some of them are coming from. It seems a fairly common theme in the photos for one side of the jaw to be significantly larger than the other. And while it’s not *right* that someone should feel self-conscious about it… I know that *I* would feel terribly self-conscious about it. But still, while I would probably choose surgery, I wouldn’t make myself look like a 6 year old child.

  13. Ysanne says

    One more vote for the “anime” look, which seems to be very popular. In everything.
    I go to a Korean hairdresser exactly to get an anime hair style. They have magazines full of hairstyles that look like straight out of an anime, shown by models with faces to fit the style and matching outfits, and the stylists and most of the customers I met have the look down pat. Including the guys, btw. And of course most of the people you see on the Korean TV shows playing in the background. It’s scary that some people take this looks so seriously that they even undergo surgery for it…

  14. A Hermit says

    I can’t find a link but there was a science program on the CBC a while ago that did a piece on the difference between women’s voices in different cultures; the suggestion being that in less egalitarian societies women often speak in higher pitched, breathier more childlike voices than your average Swede…there’s definitely an “Anime voice” that fits that bill.

    Now, in searching for that link I’m coming across a bunch of evo-psych articles, so….take with a grain of salt…but that vocal style seems like another reinforcement of the fragile, childlike image.

  15. Donnie says

    It is a sad statement on myself that I look at the two pictures and find the “after” more attractive because the “after” picture is more in-line with my expectations of beauty from a western-male perspective, which is also sad. The other thing is looking at the “after” picture and comparing it to the “before” picture is the manipulation in the hair-style, makeup, colour background. The “after” picture is manipulated in order to increase the attractiveness while the “before” is not manipulated to “increase the attractivenss”.

  16. Donnie says

    A second comment, I dated a Japanese women while in Europe and she loved being around me because being 6’7″, i made her feel “small”, “delicate” and “would hide her in a crowd”. By American standards, she was “normal” size, near “waif” standards for an American. In Japan, she was the hieght of a typical Japanese man, which made her “visible” on the streets of Japan. She said that she always wanted to walk down the street of Toyko with me.

  17. johnthedrunkard says

    Of course all the usual ‘before and after’ tricks are involved here as well. Makeup, hair-dressing and expression are all different in the ‘after.’

    I also suspect that the second image, at least in the sample here, was taken at a slightly increased distance. Note that the neck seems narrower and the hair higher–to make the head seem the same height. The desire to make women smaller than they really are is certainly in play, perhaps more in Asia than the West.

    As a six foot man I haven’t had to deal with too much craziness over height. Do note though, how women display a bizarre aversion to men of even ordinary height. At least twice in the past week I have read women’s comments about how they ‘require’ a man to be of some minimum height so that they can ‘wear heels.’

    I am to consider it a reward that a woman feels privileged to wear crippling foot-gear because of MY height?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *