Although I am less conscious of my ethnicity and
would probably be considered more ‘Americanized’ than not, as an Asian American
I find the practice of double eyelid surgery to be extremely disconcerting. I am compelled to say that I am truly
disappointed with Asians who lack such self-confidence in their personal aesthetics that
they would require cosmetic surgery that not only alters their appearance, but also
relinquishes their congenital ethnicity in order to artificially adopt another.
As the double eyelid is an inherently Caucasian characteristic,
I am also compelled to attribute the desire to attain such an aesthetic to the
hegemony of westernization. Though
contemporary westernization purports a universality and inclusivity of
aesthetics and style, I believe Caucasian idealization to be implicitly imposed
as is empirically evident in Asians’ manifested desire
to acquire double eyelids in order to become more culturally integrated in the western world.
In her essay “Reflections on a Yellow Eye: Asian I
(\Eye/)Cons and Cosmetic Surgery,” Kathleen Zane acknowledges the possibility
of the aforementioned influences on the desirability of double eyelid surgery,
but alternatively argues that there is a greater cultural system of persuasion at work.
This is exemplified by her description of a former Korean American student at the
University of Rochester who, “reported that her father had offered her as an
unsolicited graduation gift the choice of either a car or a trip to Korea for
eyelid surgery. She explained that this
was a fairly common rite of passage for her Korean American peers and surmised
it signified for her father a variety of relational meanings of his success in providing
for his children.” (Zane 161-192).
In considering these evidently cultural implications
that Zane suggests, I reiterate the question which Zane poses at the end of her
essay: “While avoiding crude and direct analogies, might eyelid surgeries be
deracialized as the equivalent of having one’s teeth straightened or capped,
i.e., as modifications to appearance provoked and supported by adherence to a
cultural, but not specifically racial, ideal?” (Zane 161-192).