Restrain the Beast, Beneath Cosmetic Surgery

In today’s day and age, technology continues to be one of the most innovative and successful things that are available. One of the most successful technological advances has been in the medical field where plastic surgery is used for many different purposes. Plastic surgery, which mainly focuses on the reparation towards a “normal” look, has been around for a while now, dating back as early as 1923. This type of medical procedure has evolved into a new form of plastic surgery known as cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery has the goal of enhancing a “normal” persons’ appearance. This can be achieved through many different techniques such as blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty, breast enlargement, and many others. As of right now, one of the most popular places to get cosmetic surgery is South Korea. Currently, there is an extremely large number of people receiving cosmetic surgery in South Korea, this includes the high amount of domestic people as well as the international clients. The types of people who receive cosmetic surgery range from world-renowned idols to the average 18-year old, almost literally anyone and everyone is beginning to get cosmetic enhancements. This leads to the looming question of why is cosmetic surgery so popular in South Korea, and what benefits does it come with? Overall, I’d like to discuss why cosmetic surgery is so prominent in South Korea, and reasons why it shouldn’t be this way.

A before and after picture of jawline reduction.

It seems as if there are two major reasons as to why it could be so popular, the first would be that the nature of Korea is very competitive and beauty is a huge factor in it. The other factor is how Asians tend to be looked down upon in beauty standards compared to those who are “westernized.” For the first reason, it appears that beauty has begun to associate itself with success. To many people, they regard looking beautiful as an attribute that is almost necessary to distinguish themselves from the pack. This problem stems from the problem of being in Seoul, ranking in the top 10 of highest population density cities in the world.

Being in such a population-dense region means that there is competition for everything whether it be school, jobs, or even significant others. In this regard, individuals think that because credentials can be attained by anyone, the next step they can take is to enhance their visual appearance. For example, resumes include a self-portrait, therefore, if you look good you definitely have an advantage. Many people also claim that they seem to be much happier with themselves after attaining cosmetic enhancements. This also leads to the fact that it is absolutely not abnormal for average people to receive cosmetic surgery. In fact, people often receive cosmetic surgery as a graduation gift. The overall question being posed here, is why is physical appeal held so highly? Despite the social norms that are seemingly being imposed here, there should be other factors like personality or other behaviors that should be valued over physical appearance. It is true, if you were to ask anyone at face value, they’d most likely like to see someone more attractive than not, however, when it comes to actually getting to know the person, the values, and personality of a person should almost always be worth more than their physical appearance. For example, like the society currently in South Korea, everyone has the same credentials and is applying for a job, therefore, there have to be some external factors that decide who gets hired. It seems plain wrong that someone may be hired over another due to physical appearance, whether it be natural or cosmetically enhanced.

The second reason as to why people in South Korea appear to receive cosmetic surgeries is to appear as if they have a more “westernized” look. This look typically consists of double eyelids, straight nose, and a round face. Many people believe that this a standard of beauty, and this standard can be seen through a lot of celebrities. The fact that many celebrities in South Korea are receiving cosmetic surgeries to attain such qualities is a huge sign that these features are highly regarded. As for the average people, of course when they see people with these features it instills a sense of not being good enough. Thus, for these people cosmetic surgeries can promote self-confidence, and for good reason too. According to research, about 60% of bosses who appear attractive got high ratings of competency, whereas the percentage drops for average attractiveness and completely falls off for those who appear as unattractive bosses. In the end, it really is up to the people depicting this problem, which again suggests a problem that is created by the community itself.

Marking the eyes before receiving a double eyelid procedure (blepharoplasty).

Whether it be because cosmetic surgery is the status quo, or that it improves your chances of earning a job, there is a major problem here. The fact that cosmetic surgery is so prominent can’t go unnoticed, there has to be some underlying problem that must be addressed to alleviate this situation. As a precaution, this is not an argument stating that cosmetic surgery is in any way a thing that is posing a threat to the country of South Korea, rather that there is an underlying problem that results in the high prominence of cosmetic surgery. As mentioned before, beauty is now becoming a standard in South Korea in terms of success. This is really the biggest problem that has to be addressed. It is true that beauty has its benefits in things such as significant others or beauty pageants, but for it to have such a large impact on whether you are successful isn’t right. This introduces possible problems such as discrimination against looks. These problems are huge because as it stands now, cosmetic surgery looks to only increases in popularity as it becomes even more standardized that it already is. Then everyone will start to look similar if not the same barring standout features. As a result, what will employers then look for in their future employees? Especially, since it appears that South Korea is in a state where credentials are similar among all. Looking at an even bigger picture, what will happen to the entire society? With so many people receiving touch ups, not only females, it really takes away from distinguishing characteristics of a person, and for what reason? So that they can be successful? Why should someone have to change what they look like just so they even have a chance at a being successful? Natural selection is something that deliberately makes some people better at things that others aren’t, if beauty was something that needed to be included to survive then every person in the world would be beautiful to everyone. However, beauty is only a matter of opinion. Just like the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” this is totally true about beauty. Therefore, beauty shouldn’t need to be achieved for success. A person should achieve their success through their own personal merit and should be allowed to do so.

At the end of the day, the status quo is to look good to be successful, eventually, this mentality of both the people under the knife and those who are encouraging it will need to change. But as of right now, the only people that can really change this are the people under the knife and despite what doctors and surgeons may suggest they ultimately have a job to do and money to make. So while changes to the way the society of South Korea currently is seems inevitable, changes shouldn’t be expected anytime soon.