All posts by karlamatos809

The U.S.’s Biased Gaze on Foreign Plastic Surgery

When reading about South Korean plastic surgery, I can’t help but think about Brazil, a nation where there is such astounding numbers and support of plastic surgery that it is considered a public right. In the AlterNet article, Han quotes a doctor in saying, “liposuction, breast augmentation and facelift, which are the most popular plastic surgery procedures in Western countries, are not so popular in Korea.” In Brazil, the most popular plastic surgeries are breast implants and liposuction, along with the U.S. where the most common procedure is breast augmentation.

We saw the incredible “Price of Beauty” video in class, where Jessica Simpson went to Brazil, condescendingly criticized their plastic surgery practices, and then danced Samba with her co-stars. But something that constantly came up in the episode was how proud Brazilians are about their plastic surgery procedures, and how it didn’t carry the same shame there that it does here in the United States. There is more of a stigma in this country attached to elective cosmetic surgery, and I think this stigma affects how we view plastic surgery in countries like South Korea and Brazil.

Coincidentally, this morning on the train ride to work, I took this picture:

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And it got me thinking, this is one of maybe two advertisements I’ve seen for plastic surgery, the other I remember being for a nose job. I didn’t even notice it at first, the lady across the car from me brought my attention to it after she looked up and laughed out loud. She obviously found this amusing, probably because of how rare these images are here, but if we look at the picture we saw in class today, according to Professor Lee, most of these ads are for cosmetic surgery clinics all in the area in South Korea.

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The shock that we express at things like that would be pretty out of place there. I think that this example speaks to the stigma we have attached to plastic surgery in this country, and how we’ve let our prejudices color our gaze on these countries. We talk about the so-called “extreme” plastic surgeries in Brazil and South Korea, and then we turn around and televise and watch shows like “Extreme Makeover,” and “Bridalplasty” where the contestants get an outstanding amount of plastic surgery done. I think it’s definitely easy to point at those countries and say, “well we would never be that extreme” the same way we turn and watch these exaggerated shows as a way to separate ourselves from that behavior, but truth is, the majority of the population indulges in beauty practices and, since there is an argument to be made for seeing plastic surgery as a a slightly more drastic form of self-care, maybe we as a country are in no position to be criticizing others choice of beauty practices.

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ABC Family Showing Race Work

I’ve recently started watching yet another show on Netflix, one my girlfriend insisted I watch, and I couldn’t resist the allure of an interracial lesbian couple fostering and adopting children and getting married on mainstream media. In the show, they have adopted twin hispanic teenagers, Mariana and Jesus and when they turn 15, they throw Mariana a quinceañera, despite the fact that Stef is white and Lena is half black/half white. During this episode, Lena is shown having an altercation with her mother, Dana. Her being biracial is shown as a source of conflict between them throughout the episode. Before i continue, Below is a clip of their altercation, 

To quote Dana, “being Latina isn’t just about the color of her skin.” Lena of course means well but is operating under the assumption that race and ethnicity and culture are all connected. King-O’Riain, writes about this in “Race Work and the Efforts of Racial Claims,” when she states,

“The queen who is racially Japanese but is adopted into a white family has no cultural authenticity, but has the required embodied race. The white person raised in a Japanese American family has the culture, but is less likely to be deemed authentic because she doesn’t have the racial body recognized as Japanese American. The first can be [a symbol of the community] and the second can’t, thus reinforcing the racial underpinning of ethnicity”

Dana, in this context, is rejecting the existence of an inherent biological connection between race and ethnicity/culture. But not even 30 seconds later, Lena is accusing her mother of denying her a cultural connection because of her biracial status. Earlier in the episode Dana makes quips about Lena’s skin being too light and her hair more “tame-able” than a black woman’s, excluding her from the category of being a “black woman” which leads to more conflict between them.

In her text, King-O’Riain talks about the hostility that biracial people can come under and the displacement they feel at not being able to fit in to either community fully. This, she says, leads to them having to “work to maintain their racial claims.” Much like in the Fosters, where Lena and Stef were doing Mariana’s ‘work’ by throwing her a quinceañera to help her seem more “authentically Latina,” King-O’Riain makes the claim that we all do this “race work” every day. Though we all do race work every day, differently in different social contexts, I think mixed-race people or those who are racially ambiguous are just more aware of the race work they have to do.