This certainly gives an entirely new meaning to the term "a whole new you." The Daily Mail reports that plastic surgeons in South Korea are performing such transformative procedures that they are rendering young women unrecognizable — to the point where international women attempting to return to their home countries post-surgery are having trouble getting through passport control.
The solution? Surgeons are being forced to draw up certificates with their patients' passport numbers, the length of their treatment time, and the name of the hospital where they were treated. While the Daily Mail says this is not necessarily a new issue, it is a growing one: In 2009, 23 Chinese women reported that they had trouble at passport control after receiving plastic surgery in South Korea, a country that is now becoming known for these kinds of appearance-altering procedures. Reportedly, one out of every 77 South Koreans has received some sort of cosmetic procedure.
More alarming than the stats themselves is the visual impact of the images that illustrate the story. Multiple before-and-after pairings show women who have apparently gone under the knife to remove a portion of the skin from their upper eyelids, reshape their noses, and slim their jawlines. Truly, the after photos do not look like women who have received plastic surgery — they look like different people altogether.
The idea that plastic surgery can be too effective, ridding the patient of distinguishable characteristics, is reminiscent of the drama surrounding Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey's famous rhinoplasty many years ago. (When one searches for the actress' name on Google, the first keyword that appears is "Jennifer Grey nose job.") The Internet loves to comment on "good" versus "bad" celebrity cosmetic procedures — but, in the case of Ms. Grey, the world seemed to breathe a sigh of sadness that the charming, beautiful face of a young star had suddenly lost its most defining, unique characteristic. The actress was still very pretty, of course — she just didn't look like her. Now, it seems that women of every race and ethnicity can fall prey to Western beauty standards.
These transformations, while obviously expertly executed by talented surgeons, robbed these young women of the defining traits that might allow their loved ones to pick them out of a lineup. We have mixed feelings about the implications of cosmetic procedures that, essentially, turn the patient into a completely different person and promote a very narrow ideal of beauty. We believe that one's attractiveness is about so much more than the shape of a nose or the curve of a chin — beauty is also rooted in the heritage, character, and personality of one's features.
Hopefully, these young ladies entered into their transformations fully aware of all the implications. We're not ones to judge someone's choices about their appearance — we're firm followers of the "do what makes you happy" school of thought — but the idea that some women are so unhappy with their looks that they are willing to undergo painful surgery to make themselves completely unrecognizable feels like a whole lot of wrong to us. If the women of the world are all striving toward one warped ideal of beauty, what's to stop us all from looking exactly the same? That's not a world we're interested in exploring. (The Daily Mail)
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