Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Eyes Have It

I've been reminded several times this week of a post from a while back.  Let me tell you about the reminders, and then I'll tell you which post.

First, when I was looking at Hyphen Magazine to find Lisa Lee's body image article for this post, I ran across this preview to an article about plastic surgery in the Asian American community.  Included are before and after pictures for double eyelid surgery.

Second, Zoe and I were playing Farmville and she wanted to make changes to our farmer avatar.  Not only did we have to give her a bob haircut so she would match Zoe and Maya again, we had to change her eyes to the more rounded eyes.

So do you recall the post?  It's Eyes Wide Open: Surgery to Westernize the Eyes of an Asian Child, about a father who had the eyes of his adopted Asian daughter "fixed:"
The speaker was a proud father. To illustrate his comments about a piece of art that celebrated the wonders of modern medicine (and which he had just donated to a local hospital), he told a story about his adopted Asian daughter. He described her as a beautiful, happy child in whom he took much delight. Her life, he told the audience, had been improved dramatically by the miracle of modern medicine. When she joined her new Caucasian family, her eyes, like those of many people of Asian descent, lacked a fold in the upper eyelid, and that lack was problematic—in his view—because it made her eyes small and sleepy and caused them to shut completely when she smiled. A plastic surgeon himself, he knew she did not need to endure this hardship, so he arranged for her to have surgery to reshape her eyes. The procedure, he explained, was minimally invasive and maximally effective. His beautiful daughter now has big round eyes that stay open and shine even when she smiles.

Even two years after learning of this case, I still have a visceral reaction of horror. . . .

9 comments:

Carol Anne said...

Looking at the preview pictures were like looking at my two daughters. My oldest naturally has double eyelids (she's from Guangdong province), where my youngest has the more typical Asian eyes.
I wouldn't change either, and I hope they never want to change, either.

Dawn said...

I had the exact same reaction when I first read it. I wonder how his beautiful daughter will feel when when she is an older teen or adult.

Walking to China said...

We live in China and nearly every model here has had that surgery. Most of the advertising is done with very Western looking Chinese people-brown hair and round eyes. It's very sad.

Walking to China said...

We live in China and nearly every model here has had that surgery. Most of the advertising is done with very Western looking Chinese people-brown hair and round eyes. It's very sad.

reformadoption said...

I have a horror response too. Girls should see how beautiful they are, that they don't need to change a thing. It's just that media tends to grab them and show them a picture of what acceptance, love, and beauty is all about, except that it isn't.

Anonymous said...

I want to vomit. This gives me an actual visceral (not positive) reaction. What is wrong with people? This child will always ....ALWAYS.....believe she just was not "quite good enough"....

Colossal selfish jerk on unbelievable proptions......

윤선 said...

Hey fellow Farmville friends!

I didn't look at the links, but I don't feel I really need to... I'm just saddened that this is still going and looks to infiltrate the next few generations of adoptees... I remember feeling like I wanted/needed to get the eye surgery just so I could fit in better. I think that's what it comes down to: feeling like we fit in better with those around us...

Debbie said...

I, too, find this whole issue of cosmetic surgery to "fix" Asian eyelids offensive. But, as a non-adopted American-born Chinese woman, I have to point out that this standard of "beauty" is also prevalent amongst Asians themselves. One of my strongest childhood memories is of my aunts clucking over my "unfortunate" eyelids at various family gatherings. From the time I was twelve years old, I remember my immigrant parents offering to pay for cosmetic surgery to create double lids. Needless to say, I always thought my eyelids were just fine as is (though I was pretty excited to have my teeth straightened).

Meia Yao said...

Good Hair (a documentary focusing on African American women) is a prime example of the effects of the media/societal fads/pressures/ideals/whatever it is on peoples of all color. In both these cases, looking "caucasian" (straight/smooth hair, double-eyelids) is the standard of beauty... of course that's not always true but when it is, yes it is upsetting!