From Asian to Caucasian: Response From a Reader

Im Su-jung

Lest the last email from a reader featured here gives you the wrong first impression, Jacob Lee of California clearly put a lot of thought and attention into this one on the subject of Korean women’s body ideals, and has never ceased to be polite as he patiently waited almost 2 months(!) and many excuses from me before responding to it properly. Given the wait, he may be surprised to learn that I actually agree with most of the points he makes, although we draw very different conclusions from them.

For the sake of both making the email easier to read and distinguishing my interspersed comments from it, I’ve decided to preface the latter with pictures of myself, and, lacking a picture of Jake, one of popular Korean heart-throb Lee Seung-gi (이승기) to represent him. But no means do I mean to give the impression that I’m treating Jake’s email facetiously with that choice though, nor by the format that this was actually a two-way conversation. And I warn you: Jake’s email was over 2500 words long, and my response here brings that up to over 4300, so this post is definitely not for the faint-hearted!

Lee Seung-giJake: Hello, Mr. Turnbull.  I was browsing through your site the last few days when I came across your post, “From Asian to Caucasian,” at the end of which you wrote:

So although I’m always open to changing my mind, and think I have a pretty good record on this blog for admitting when I’ve been mistaken and/or changing my mind upon hearing new evidence, until someone actually addresses that point at all then I’ll continue to believe that “Caucasianness” is a very strong, albeit usually subconscious and/or indirect, influence on modern Korean women’s cosmetic surgery choices.

Well, hopefully, I can add a new, well… wrinkle to the topic of modern Korean women’s cosmetic surgery choices.

james-turnbull-pictureJames: For readers’ sakes, let me reiterate that point here, which was that arguments that modern Korean ideals of appearance are merely extensions of historical associations of light skin and so forth, must confront the:

…big, fat, white elephant in the room that is America and the West. You have to consider how having white skin here in Korea is not simply a matter of lightness anymore, of being a sign that one doesn’t have to work outside in a field. The relative pallor of one’s skin is now inevitably linked to notions of civility and class that are also reflected against the very real presence of white people, who are not surprisingly, positively associated with notions of civility and class.

As Michael Hurt wrote in 2005. And so readers know what to expect, my main critique of Jake’s email is that while he does indeed add a great deal of new information to the subject, the points he make are essentially ahistorical, and he certainly doesn’t address that issue above.

Lee Seung-giJake: First of all, let me just say that I do appreciate the work you are doing. I may not always agree with your conclusions, or the way you couch your arguments, but I do believe that for the most part, you are doing work that needs to be done, and saying things that need to be said as it pertains to Korean culture.

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m ethnically Korean.  I’m a 23 year old guy living in Southern California.  In the past few months especially, I’ve been interested in the question of Asians wanting to be Caucasians.  Rather, I’m interested in the perspective of Caucasians regarding this topic.  I suppose it wasn’t a really big surprise to learn that there are many Caucasians out there who firmly believe, as you do, that Asian women (in your case Korean women) are strongly influenced by “Caucasianness.”  And no matter how vehemently these Asian women deny wanting to look white, the response invariably seems to be, “Yes you do.  You just don’t know it b/c it’s subconscious, or you don’t want to admit it.”   From youtube videos, Tyra Banks, the racist website stormfront.org, the list seems interminable.

To you and other non Asians, it seems that because many Asian women want larger eyes and a straighter nose, this is very strong evidence for their wanting to be white since these are deemed to be white standards of beauty…

james-turnbull-pictureJames: Let me stop you there for a moment, as I think you’re careless with your choice of words here, unnecessarily and probably unintentionally generalizing myself and other Caucasians. Yes, I have indeed said that Korean women are strongly influenced by Caucasianness, but that’s not quite the same as saying that they subconsciously want to look White, and as far as I’m aware I’ve certainly never intentionally asserted such, either online or in person. I do agree that discussions on the subject by myself and others can certainly seem to have that dynamic you describe though, but in my own experience that’s frequently the result of either a misunderstanding or even a deliberate misrepresentation of non-Asians’ views.

korean-etude-advertisement-song-hye-gyo(Source)

Having said that, I do believe that the plethora of cosmetic surgery advertisements marketed towards Northeast-Asians but featuring Caucasians would suggest that – surely – some Koreans do indeed deliberately or subconsciously “want to look White.” But I’m not going to labor that point: it’s unnecessary. Rather, however cliched it is to do so, consider, say, that women wanting to look sexually aroused (and thereby more arousing) and men’s fondness for phallic symbols undoubtedly had big roles to play in origins of the modern habits of lipstick and tie-wearing respectively, but that doesn’t mean men and women deliberately or even subconsciously do so for those reasons now: instead, they are merely following cultural practices and/or norms surrounding them that have considerably evolved since. And in that vein, I’ll readily admit that the vast majority of Korean women that get lighten their skin and/or get cosmetic surgery operations that, to my eyes, make them look more Caucasian, actually do so to look more like Korean celebrities and/or merely follow Korean cultural norms. But while those certainly built on preexisting Korean ones, especially associations of light skins with an indoor, non-agricultural elite, they have also been heavily influenced by notions of class, civility and wealth literally embodied by Caucasians, as Michael Hurt pointed out.

That may all seem to be mere semantics, but because of the heated and often quite vitriolic debate this subject invariably seems to generate in the blogosphere, I want to remove that emotive element from any discussion immediately: I am not claiming here that Korean women simply want to look White, nor have I ever done so. With that out of the way then:

Lee Seung-giJake: …But in the last few months, I’ve found that there has been some significant research done, mostly by evolutionary psychologists, which seem to strongly support the idea that there is, generally speaking, no white standard of beauty, Asian standard of beauty, black standard of beauty, or Hispanic standard of beauty – there is only a universal standard of beauty that is innate, recognizable by most, and aspired to by many.

I highly recommend the book, Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff, a psychologist and faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and of Harvard University’s Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative.

Here’s an excerpt:

Despite racism, misperceptions, and misunderstandings, people have always been attracted to people of other races. Today the world is a global community where international beauty competitions have enormous followings (although many complain that these contests favor Western ideals of beauty). There must be some general understanding of beauty, however vaguely defined, since even three-month-old infants prefer to gaze at faces that adults find attractive, including faces of people from races they had not previously been exposed to. In recent years scientists have taken a deep interest in the universality of beauty.

No Skinny Man Has an Ounce of Sex Appeal 1939It turns out that people in the same culture agree strongly about who is beautiful and who is not. In 1960 a London newspaper published pictures of twelve young women’s faces and asked its readers to rate their prettiness. There were over four thousand responses from all over Britain, from all social classes and from ages eight to eighty. This diverse group sent in remarkably consistent ratings. A similar study done five years later in the United States had ten thousand respondents who also showed a great deal of agreement in their ratings. The same result has emerged under more controlled conditions in psychologists’ laboratories. People firmly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and then they jot down very similar judgments (image right: source).

Our age and sex have little influence on our beauty judgments. As we have seen, three-month-old babies gaze longer at faces that adults find attractive. Seven-year-olds, twelve-year-olds, seventeen-year-olds, and adults do not differ significantly in their ratings of the attractiveness of the faces of children and adults. Women agree with men about which women are beautiful. Although men think they cannot judge another man’s beauty, they agree among themselves and with women about which men are the handsomest.

Although the high level of agreement within cultures may simply reflect the success of Western media in disseminating particular ideals of beauty, cross-cultural research suggests that shared ideals of beauty are not dependent on media images. Perhaps the most far-reaching study on the influence of race and culture on judgments of beauty was conducted by anthropologists Douglas Jones and Kim Hill, who visited two relatively isolated tribes, the Hiwi Indians of Venezuela and the Ache Indians of Paraguay, as well as people in three Western cultures. The Ache and the Hiwi lived as hunters and gatherers until the 1960s and have met only a few Western missionaries and anthropologists. Neither tribe watches television, and they do not have contact with each other: the two cultures have been developing independently for thousands of years. Jones and Hill found that all five cultures had easily tapped local beauty standards. A Hiwi tribesman was as likely to agree with another tribesman about beauty as one American college student was with another. Whatever process leads to a consensus within a culture does not depend on dissemination of media images.

james-turnbull-pictureJames: Not that this detracts from either the points made in the book or in your email, and in fact I agree with all of those made in this *cough* rather lengthy excerpt, but let me point out here how I’m increasingly skeptical of the validity of any reports on the body and face preferences and so forth of isolated jungle tribes. Primarily, this is because of the way in which they are almost invariably used in the media, literally thrown into the discussion to support almost any hypothesis. Just this June for instance, Newsweek used some other South American tribes to argue the exact opposite, arguing that men’s ideals of women’s hip-to-waist ratios were heavily dependent on women’s economic position in their culture.

Cross-cultural studies have been done with people in Australia, Austria, England, China, India, Japan, Korea, Scotland, and the United States. All show that there is significant agreement among people of different races and different cultures about which faces they consider beautiful, although agreement is stronger for faces of the same race as the perceiver.

In the Jones and Hill study, people in Brazil, the United States, and Russia, as well as the Hiwi and Ache Indians, were presented a multiracial, multicultural set of faces (Indian, African-American, Asian-American, Caucasians, mixed-race Brazilian, and others). There was significant agreement among the five cultures in their beauty ratings and some differences. For example the Hiwi and the Ache agreed more with each other than they did with people in Western cultures. This is not because they share a culture – they don’t – but because they have similar facial features, and they are sensitive to the degree of similarity between their facial features and the features of the people in the photographs. For example, although the Ache had never met an Asian person, they were curious about the Asian-American faces, attracted to them, and aware of a similarity between these faces and their own. The Ache gave less favorable ratings overall to African-American faces, and they called the Caucasian anthropologists “pyta puku”, meaning longnose, behind their backs. One Caucasian anthropologist was given the nickname “anteater”.

Since the Hiwi and the Ache had never encountered Asians and Africans, had met only a few Caucasians, and were not accustomed to using the scientists rating scales, any level of agreement with the Western cultures is intriguing. Jones found a number of points of agreement. People in all five cultures were attracted to similar geometric proportions in the face. They liked female faces with small lower faces (delicate jaws and relatively small chins) and eyes that were large in relation to the length of the face. Jones called these “exaggerated markers of youthfulness”, and they are similar to the features mentioned in other cross-cultural studies of beauty. For example psychologist Michael Cunningham found that beautiful Asian, Hispanic, Afro-Caribbean, and Caucasian women had large, widely spaced eyes, high cheekbones, small chins and full lips.

People tend to agree about which faces are beautiful, and to find similar features attractive across ethnically diverse faces. The role of individual taste is far more insignificant than folk wisdom would have us believe.

Lee Seung-giKim Tae-hee Perfect FaceJake: And you can find the NYTimes book review here which offers some more insight (James: free registration required). Her book was even the basis for a discovery channel special which discussed the idea of a universal standard. Popseoul! (which I believe you are familiar with) even talks about it here.

No surprise that Kim Tae-hee (김태희) fits the standard perfectly, eh?  Well, it wasn’t for me at least.

Kim Tae-hee about to eat some meat(Source)

There might be the question, Do Caucasians fit the universal standard more than any other race?  It doesn’t appear so.  I can’t find the study anymore, but I’ll include it anyways just on the chance that you’ve come across similar studies or made comparable observations yourself, however informal.  This study (one that was unrelated to this idea of universal beauty) suggested that 3 out of 4 people, regardless of race, were deemed to be either plain or ugly by participants who, themselves, were from various racial backgrounds.  And only a very small percentage (less than one percent in each racial group if I recall correctly) was given the highest rating of beautiful.

My interpretation of this data is that since there are roughly 25% of people in each racial group who are considered somewhat attractive or beautiful, all racial groups have about the same proportion of people who fit the universal standard.  It’s just that when we miss these standards, we miss them in different ways, e.g., small eyes for Asian women and big noses for Caucasian females.

Since I don’t have the source for this study, I wouldn’t blame you for ignoring it.  But even if people want to believe that Caucasians fit the universal standard more than any other race, that still doesn’t change the fact (or at least what I believe to be a fact) that Asian women are trying to reach a universal ideal and not a white ideal.

james-turnbull-pictureJames: I don’t mind that you don’t have the source for the study – I trust your interpretation of it – and I definitely agree that there are many features of human’s bodies and faces that are universally preferred: worldwide, people find symmetrical faces more trustworthy for instance.

But with that last sentence especially, I really think that you begin to carry the notion of universalism too far, as it leaves little room for what can be very influential culturally-based ideals, however malleable. And who exactly said that Caucasians fit the “universal standard” more than any other race? I know I certainly haven’t, and I challenge you to provide sources. The only sense in which I’d regard them as a universal standard is because of people’s associations of class, civility and wealth with Caucasians as explained, but that’s very different from saying that people have preferences for Caucasian features and so on for innate, biological reasons.

Update: One important thing I should add is that if Caucasian women have noses bigger than the universal standard, one would expect that Caucasian women would be getting operations to have them reduced with the same alacrity that Korean women, say, get double-eyelid surgery. I have no figures at hand and am frankly not inclined to search them out, but I’d wager that that isn’t at all the case. This ties in with the next quote by Michael Hurt I give a little later also.

Lee Seung-giJake: So to paraphrase Nancy Etcoff, which is more likely? That a select group of men on Madison Ave. and in Hollywood determined what the ideal beauty should be and was able to influence countless billions of men and women over the next fifty years, even infants as young as one week old, even people living in the remotest parts of the world, such as the jungles of South America, people whom the only Caucasians they’ve seen were the few researchers who contacted them, researchers who were called “anteaters” behind their backs, but because of the stong influence of “Caucasianness,  these people from all around the world, consistently chose what you consider to be the white standard of beauty, as their ideal standard of beauty, and they didn’t have the awareness, nor the capabilities, nor the will to resist such an influence, even knowing, perhaps only on a subconscious level, that they will never be able to measure up.

qi-bi-shi-versus-marilyn-monroe(“Qi BaiShi vs. Marilyn Monroe”, by Zhang Wei, Oil on canvas 2006. Source)

Or, could there be a universal standard of beauty, a certain facial structure that the significant majority of the people from all races and cultures find attractive, something that we are all born with, something we’ve always had even before the “westernization” of the world, just like we’ve always had an innate universal preference for the taste of  fat and sugar, and a universal preference for certain sounds, rhythms and smells, and a universal enjoyment for the feeling of a soft fabric on bare skin, and a universal understanding of a smile and expressions of sadness and anger.  And perhaps these advertising people on Madison Ave. and in Hollywood were as influenced by these standards  as the rest of us?

Now I know that this is a gross simplification of a very complicated issue, and the “westernization” of the world is much more complicated and has many more facets including cultural, political, and economic imperialism, but at its core, the question that Nancy Etcoff poses needs at the very least to be considered….

james-turnbull-pictureJames: Sorry, but “a gross simplification” is putting it mildly. And what’s to consider? Nancy Etcoff would find no disagreement from me that there are universally appealing facial features and shapes and so on. I’d even concede that double-eyelids, for instance, may not be quite as “Caucasian” as I first thought, and that Korean women may get the operation simply to make their eyes look bigger (and thus more attractive, by universal standards or otherwise) and/or just out of cultural habit…Caucasian ideals be dammed. But there’s so much more to the Caucasianness of the cosmetic surgery choices of Korean women then mere eyelids. As Michael Hurt points out (yes, him again, but then his post would be a adequate critique of your email in itself):

Deference to white skin here is so alive and well [here], how can one deny that it plays any role in the decision to get one’s eyes cut larger, nose Romanized, old-school high cheekbones shaved down to size, breasts enlarged, asses and lips pumped full of silicone, and nerves in the calves snipped? One can say that plastic surgery in the States or the West is also in major effect these days, but the crucial difference is that Westerners aren’t getting their epicanthic fold removed, breasts reduced, cheekbones raised, nose bridges removed, or calves fattened up. Let’s get real here – cultural sadaejuui (사대주의; flunkyism, toadyism, deference) goes in one direction. That’s what makes the case so sad when it comes to one culture trying to attain a beauty standard set by another one.

Moreover, as he eloquently puts it, you’re simply ignoring the big, fat, White elephant in the room that is America and the West:

You have to consider how having white skin here in Korea is not simply a matter of lightness anymore, of being a sign that one doesn’t have to work outside in a field. The relative pallor of one’s skin is now inevitably linked to notions of civility and class that are also reflected against the very real presence of white people, who are not surprisingly, positively associated with notions of civility and class.

In particular, I fail to see how a preference for light skin, taken to such extremes here that Korean women have among the lowest Vitamin D levels in the world, is anything but culturally determined.

Lee Seung-giJake: To be sure she and her book are not without their critics, the most prominent being feminists (such as Naomi Wolf) and certain academics who have tried to downplay the importance of beauty for various reasons in the last few decades (James: see Popmatters for a recent feature article on this subject). But no one to my knowledge has been able to dismiss or discredit the significant amount of research she has included in her book.  And judging by your other posts and your references to and criticisms of scholarly or journalistic pieces of work, I’m sure this won’t dissuade you from trying, lol. This book came out ten years ago, and since that time much research has been done which have only strengthened her conclusions.  A couple of examples: first, from Psychology Today, and the BBC’s The Human Face documentary:

It is very Caucasian centric, but the conclusions Dr. Stephen Marquardt reaches parallels those of Dr. Escott in many ways.

Let me also say that I don’t want to give the impression that I believe “Caucasianness” had no influence on Korean women.  Clearly, there has been.  I think hair and eye colors are good examples of that.  These aren’t universalities, so the fact that Korean women started dying their hair en masse during the eighties and started wearing colored contacts in the 1990’s tell me they were strongly influenced by white standards in this regard.

the-korean-idealHowever, as Nancy Etcoff and others have pointed out, these culture specific standards (e.g. foot binding, lip plates, piercings, etc.) have a way of changing, sometimes very rapidly, to take on an altogether different meaning, such as what happened with the perception of a woman’s weight here in the U.S (source right: Scoubi).

In a similar way, I think the reasons why Korean women started dying their hair also changed along the way.  Now, I think they do it for the same reasons Caucasian women do it – simply because they believe it makes them look better and they just want to try a different look.  I also believe that they change the color of their hair to look more like Korean female celebrities.  I don’t have anything to base my conclusions on because as far as I know, there hasn’t been any studies done on this issue.  I’m only going by the word of the Korean women themselves and my understanding of how greatly Korean women admire the beauty of many Korean actresses.

And regarding colored contacts, that fad seems to be largely over.

james-turnbull-pictureJames: Well, you can’t have it both ways. You’ve certainly made your point that some aspects of women’s facial and/or body ideals are really innate and universal, but like you and Nancy Etcoff say, others can be culturally determined. The onus is now on you to provide a list of which is which, otherwise it’s difficult to continue the discussion.

I strongly suspect though, that most of the cosmetic surgery operations that Korean women undergo (that to my eye make them look more Caucasian) will be extremely difficult to explain in terms of adherence to a universal standard, and which is in itself probably very much open to interpretation. If you do admit that some choices are culturally determined though, then again you really need to address the question posed at the beginning of this post.

Lee Seung-giJake: In one of your posts, you wrote:

But I think the point that average Korean women are whitening their skins and undergoing cosmetic surgery because they want to look like rich and famous Korean women is, to be blunt, irrelevant: it merely changes the focus of our attention, but doesn’t answer the question of why rich and famous Korean women (rather than average Korean women) are doing so.

Well, to me, the answer is quite clear.

Anyways, I support what you are trying to do as it relates to women’s and children’s issues in Korea.  Even though I’ve lived most of my life in the U.S., I still feel a deep connection to the country of my birth, and I have a great amount of respect for what it has been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, especially since I sense an earnest attempt to continually improve itself.  But that doesn’t blind me to its faults, and unfortunately, there are still too many.

Hope to hear from you soon concerning this topic.  Take care.

Jake.

james-turnbull-pictureJames: Apologies if I ultimately seem a bit dismissive of all your efforts, but I do really appreciate all the time and effort you put into your email, which I learned a great deal from on. And I really hope to keep the discussion going with yourself and other readers, either in the comments or by email. Naturally my preference is for the former, to make it a real discussion and all, but if you or anyone else would like to send further emails to be published here on this subject (or anything else) then by all means please do so. Preferably ones at least *cough* 50% shorter than 2500 words though!

Update: This post at Ask a Korean! about the differences in beauty standards between Koreans and American gyopos (ethnic Koreans living overseas) is a healthy reminder to be more specific about exactly which groups of ethnic Koreans we are discussing in the future. For the record then, I’ve only ever been referring to Korean women in Korea.

42 thoughts on “From Asian to Caucasian: Response From a Reader

  1. I’m a Korean-American woman and based on what I’ve heard from my older, Korean-born relatives and other Korean women, the features such as a straighter/higher nose, double eyelids, etc. are strongly associated with white women and thus considered beautiful.

    Korean women who get these surgeries are bullshitting if they claim that it’s simply to look like Korean celebrities. Who do you think the Korean celebrities are trying to look like??? Every time I see a random Korean celeb who clearly had some plastics done, I think “man, she or he looks WHITE.” Why is Daniel Henney so popular? Why are kids who are mixed with non-white (but non-Korean) and Korean genes shunned? No one wants to look half-black and half-Asian do they…

    I don’t have double eyelids and while I have a nice small nose, it’s not very high because my Asian skull is FLATTER like it’s supposed to be. And I think I look pretty good with my so-called “Asian” features.

    This kind of stuff pisses me off, to put it bluntly. Asians, Koreans, whatever, need to stop FRONTIN’ like they don’t want to look white. Of course they do. Though it’s not necessarily their fault, let’s not pretend otherwise.

  2. Correction: the so-called “white” features that my relatives, etc. associate with “white people” and beauty goes the same for men as well. Just look at that Hany or whatever his name is from Fly2theSky. He went from Korean to half-WHITE after his plastics marathon. No Korean or Asian naturally looks like that. We should embrace the way we look, the way we were born to look. It’s all beautiful IMO.

  3. “Why are kids who are mixed with non-white (but non-Korean) and Korean genes shunned? No one wants to look half-black and half-Asian do they…”

    I think Tiger Woods is very comfortable with what he looks like.

    • Thanks Charles. Literally just threw that in there at the end of the post a minute ago, so you probably missed it.

      Joey– Granted, but what does Tiger Woods have to do with half-Black, half-Koreans, which is obviously who lawyeredup was talking about? Like Hines Ward’s mother pointed out when she came here, if her son – or indeed, Tiger Woods – had been raised here, he’d probably have had nothing but a lifetime of discrimination and abject poverty to look forward to.

      Lawyeredup–I quite agree, people saying they want to look like Korean celebrities is very unhelpful, and merely deflects the question away from them to why Korean celebrities choose to look the way that they do. But I couch my argument the way that I do because of how offended people can get when told that they merely want to look more White, not unnatural considering how they never framed their cosmetic choices in those terms themselves (however valid).

  4. I feel that Koreans are trying to escape perpetual ‘Asianness’ and ‘exoticness’ that the American and European media like to portray Asians as, and get with what is considered ‘cool’ nowadays, of which Caucasion influenced beauty standards are a part of (the universal notion of beauty is bullcrap, beauty is entirely trend based). I’m reminded of a certain fashion calender with a ‘Asian’ theme where it was a curious mix of Japanese, Chinese, other unknown Asian stuff, geisha makeup and most interestingly, white, Caucasion models.

    After looking at images like this, it’s like, if I want to prove my Asian ethnicity, I have to dress up as a ridiculous looking geisha mutant.

    Also, I agree with white skin = high classness. Korean people are generally obsessed with American music and images of glamourous, tall, beautiful and American women are probably what they think America looks like. Those who have never been overseas, think America or any ‘white’ country are filled with the same glamour they see in American pop culture, like in Korean dramas (of the few I’ve watched) people always move to America for a better life, or boy leaves girl for America, girl gets jealous and makes explicit comment how everyone in America look like models.
    Thus, to get with the times, and be in on par: http://asianmodelsblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Daul%20Kim

  5. -I love this. It is once again evidence of the asian male over identifying with ‘race’ as a concept. He feels ‘offended’ because you argue that ‘his’ women would immitate ‘white/caucasion’ standards of beauty.
    -I know this is a ad hom attack but I grow tired of pan-Asians lack of focus on the divisiveness of the west. It is true there are both international standards of beauty, and the beauty of the exotic. When I was living in Russia, Maria Sharapova was considered ‘an average looking beauty.’ Now, only in a country like russia is a 6′ blonde considered an average. Most of the models in Russia, used in lingerie advertisments, were brown, red or black haired. It isn’t suprising that in a slavic country bordering Sweden there would be a surplus of blondes making them alot less exotic than in Korea. The Romans, during the Empire, had a thing for red hair.
    -What I find interesting is most Koreans I have met find it immposible to imagine an attractive black woman as even existing. Of course I’m in Gangwon-do, but even so, the responses when I mentioned dating a Zulu woman born in England were rather depressing.

  6. Well she said Asian, most Koreans I know would take a offense to lump everyone together, either way things like Hines Ward will somewhat help rectify the situation. Half asian, half black children can somewhat take motivation for that. It might just be sport but that could still matter for them. Sport was/is a place where barriers were broken down in America. When I visited Korea last summer many times the first question I would get would be if I knew Park Chan Ho was. It has an influence, so in that regard I believe people like Tiger and Hines can do quite a bit. It’s interesting enough I posted about Tiger because at the time he was still in the lead at the PGA championship and I didn’t even know who Y.E. Yang was until he came back to beat Tiger today. I actually have an interesting take on the race relations due to my relationships with Koreans.

    My girlfriend is Korean and is here studying. She will graduate from University here in America…in Kentucky to be more precise. I met her through other Korean friends that I had met first a few semesters before. A few of my best friends have since moved back to Korea. I went to Kentucky State University which was a historically black university. There are not that many left in the country, mine being one of a handful. I myself am white. I think this situation is sometimes good for the Koreans. I don’t think most come expecting a majority black school. Kentucky itself is a 92% white state. Sometimes Koreans have a good experience and other times they don’t. There are a lot of black students that come from poor areas of the country, such as Detroit. Some of these reinforce so negative stereotypes a Korean might have about a black person, while others tend to break down those walls. It’s just a matter of who they meet. I am not equating being poor to being a bad person, thief, racist or whatever else you may say. Sadly, we do have those students around and they stick out. A few of the exchange students have had property stolen by room mates. I have heard this on many occasions including my girlfriend. These things make America look quite terrible to some of these students. Most have a decent stay though as they are serious about studying and Frankfort (where KSU is located) is quite a small and quiet town, pop. 50,000. Interaction can sometimes be tough as well due to the slang and heavy accents held by many students. On the same hand many Koreans get to experience first hand the culture that is so influential in their own pop culture. The majority of the students tend to flock together, while others are more outgoing. Many of the students attend churches here in town and that gives them a good outlet to assimilate with the student body.

    I’d like to write some other things but it is way past my bedtime. All in all though I do have an interesting experience on this subject.

  7. Thanks James for the reply, and for choosing a picture of Lee Seung-gi. It’s flattering, although people say I have an uncanny resemblance to Won Bin (and since no one here knows what I look like, that’s the story I’m sticking with. ;-) But wait, lawyeredup might accuse me of wanting to look white, so let me say I look like Takeshi Kaneshiro. Or Yoo Gun. Or Jang Dong gun. Or Hyun Bin. Hmmm, thought this might be a lot easier since, according to lawyeredup, there are “No Korean or Asian [who] naturally looks like that.” As far as I know, these men have had no plastic surgery. At least, I haven’t seen any evidence besides baseless rumors. And speaking of things baseless, “Asians, Koreans, whatever, need to stop FRONTIN’ like they don’t want to look white. Of course they do.”

    Care to back this up? Do you have any studies that support your opinion?

    Just wondering, if not the men I mentioned, if not women like Kim Tae Hee, Lee Hyori, Song Hye Kyo, which Koreans do YOU believe should be the ideal form of beauty? If not these people, then Koreans who have more common proportions perhaps? Because those are the only ones left. How about Caucasians then. I think it’s safe to say that most Caucasians don’t look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. These celebrities have very rare proportions among Caucasians. Do you also then believe that Caucasians should idealize people with more common features?

    One last comment to lawyeredup. It’s obvious you don’t believe that a universal standard exists and that the standard of beauty is very mutable. If what you’re saying is true, then in that face chart which Dr. Marquardt devised and shows in the video, you must also believe that the extremely deformed face at the bottom right of the chart could conceivably be seen as the ideal standard of beauty by the majority of the people in the world. If there is no universal standard, then this is absolutely possible. Do you believe this could happen? Not a rhetorical question by the way.

    Anyways, thanks again for the response James. I knew once posted that my views wouldn’t be favored by many who comment here. I’m expecting a few more like lawyeredup’s. If nothing else, it should be a pretty lively discussion. But just to add a few clarifications and comments…

    In your response you wrote, “Yes, I have indeed said that Korean women are strongly influenced by Caucasianness, but that’s not quite the same as saying that they subconsciously want to look White, and I’ve certainly never asserted such, either online or in person.”

    Then could you clarify what you meant by this: “…then I’ll continue to believe that “Caucasianness” is a very strong, albeit usually subconscious and/or indirect, influence on modern Korean women’s cosmetic surgery choices.”

    Seriously, I’ve gone over your posts and links several times now, and my mind is pretty fried, lol, so I might be missing something obvious.

    And to address Michael Hurt’s blog, he wrote: “Deference to white skin here is so alive and well, how can one deny that it plays any role in the decision to get one’s eyes cut larger, nose Romanized, old-school high cheekbones shaved down to size, breasts enlarged, asses and lips pumped full of silicone, and nerves in the calves snipped?”

    The thing which I find problematic about his opinion is that he still doesn’t address the issue of a universal standard in his blog. That to me is the big white elephant which people, like lawyeredup, choose to ignore. How does deference to white skin organically turn to wanting to look white? To undergo all of those surgeries that Michael Hurt describes in his post, I tend to think something significantly more powerful is at work here. So what we’re left with, again, is Michael Hurt’s opinion. I guess that’s what anyone has concerning this issue at this point. But until Michael Hurt and others who share his view can produce credible evidence to back up their opinions, I still tend to side with researchers like Drs. Etcoff, Marquardt, and Kanazawa who have done significant research into the matter to back up theirs.

    Now this is not to say that Asian women aren’t influenced by this “deference to white skin.” Actually, that’s the point I was trying to make at the end of my email. That yes, in severeral ways, there are many Asian women and men who are influenced by “Caucasianness.” I just tend to believe that it’s not nearly as big of a factor as Michael Hurt and others seem to believe it is.

    Wow, this post is turning long. I’m really trying to keep it short believe it or not. So just a few more things. Maybe I’ll just bullet point from here on:

    1) ” And who exactly said that Caucasians fit the “universal standard” more than any other race? I know I certainly haven’t, and I challenge you to provide sources.” I wasn’t directing it at you, just a general you. It’s actually a thought I had and one of my friends had when I brought up this issue with her. It was a clumsy way of introducing that study.

    2) “The onus is now on you to provide a list of which is which, otherwise it’s difficult to continue the discussion.” Well then, this is one that I’ll have to pass on for now until I have more time to elaborate because it could get pretty long. But hopefully, for the time being, the few that are mentioned in my original link will be enough to carry on the discussion.

    3) “But with that last sentence especially, I really think that you begin to carry the notion of universalism too far, as it leaves little room for malleable, culturally-based ideals.” True. I should have said that a significant percentage, if not a majority, of Asian women are most influenced by a universal standard and not a white ideal.

    4) “Sorry, but “a gross simplification” is putting it mildly.” True again. I don’t know much about the subject of cultural imperialism, but what little I know probably would have made my email twice as long, so I thought it prudent to leave it like that.

    I was going to make a few more comments because I’m sure I’m overlooking a few things you wanted addressed, but I think it’s best I end it here. For your and your readers’ sake, lol. Hope I didn’t misinterpret any of your comments. I also hope this discussion can remain relatively civil. Just be forewarned, if you’re planning on asking for clarifications of my response, given my tendency towards verbosity, you do so at your own risk, lol.

    Again, thanks for your well-thougt out post.

    Jake.

  8. To Nick,

    “I love this. It is once again evidence of the asian male over identifying with ‘race’ as a concept. He feels ‘offended’ because you argue that ‘his’ women would immitate ‘white/caucasion’ standards of beauty.”

    Hmm, or could I have just wanted to introduce a topic into the discussion that I haven’t really seen addressed anywhere concerning this issue?

    Care to address a little more specifically any concerns you might have had with my email?

  9. Catherine, you wrote:

    “the universal notion of beauty is bullcrap, beauty is entirely trend based”

    What are your thoughts about the findings of Dr. Etcoff and others then as outlined in excerpt? What faults did you find with it? Also, the question I asked Lawyeredup:

    Since according to you, beauty is “entirely trend based”, then that deformed face at the end of Dr. Marquardt’s face chart could conceivably be the new standard of beauty. Do you believe this to be true? That most of the people in the world can find that face as beautiful as that of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Song Hye Kyo?

  10. -If one defines beauty has PROPORTIONAL…ie nose width to nose length or length of ears relative to length of skull then one can indeed argue/even prove a universal standard of beauty. This is why most people consider facial scars to be ugly. Cut off an ear and you’re will really have people freaking out. Yet Koreans don’t find this man attractive do they?

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1494718976/nm0005023

    Notice the small eyes large head thing as well. Mr. Hounsou has had a famous career as an actor and model.
    -In addition, Asian cultures have completely turned from their original perception of westerners. We actually have historical proof of what Japanese people thought of westerners, what they saw.

    Did Perry really have slanting, asian style eyes? Now, why are most american white males considered good looking? Why do we hear “you so handsome.” Of course part of it is limited English and a desire to please foreigners, but is it not indicitive that to Koreans, white people ARE considered more attractive than average.
    -Lastly, why are so few, if any SE asians considered attractive to Korean men? Many americans since World War II sang the praises of the women of the Philipines, Thailand, and Vietnam, but Koreans farmers marry such women as a matter of neccesity. Even the UGLIEST korean girl is considered better than a foreigner. In fact the Korean movie “You are my sunshine” “Nu Nun Na Un Myon” brings out how better it is to have a da bang girl for a wife than a philipina.
    -All in all, I think the white attractive thing is more indicitive of Korean self-loathing meeting xenophobia, but that is a offensive, as well as another, topic.

    Sure big eyes, noses, and so on. We’d be closer to this standard of universal beauty right?

    • Nick,

      I don’t think your “arguments” deserve a response, considering how this is kind of a fart in the wind after a great dialogue between James and Jake, but….Jesus.

      Come on, man. Are you serious?

      “Now, why are most american white males considered good looking? Why do we hear “you so handsome.” Of course part of it is limited English and a desire to please foreigners, but is it not indicitive that to Koreans, white people ARE considered more attractive than average.”

      A couple of Korean guys say “you so handsome” and from this, you extrapolate some pseudo-scientific conclusion that *most* american white males are considered *more attractive than average*?

      WTF?

      I hear “you so handsome” from Korean men quite often. And guess what? I’m not white! Surprise!

      Actually, it’s polite to compliment a man on his looks (so I hear) especially if you’re meeting for the first time. Sad to say, but maybe you (and I) aren’t really so handsome after all. Maybe Koreans are just trying to be nice? And we’re dumb enough to believe them?

      “Lastly, why are so few, if any SE asians considered attractive to Korean men? Many americans since World War II sang the praises of the women of the Philipines, Thailand, and Vietnam, but Koreans farmers marry such women as a matter of neccesity.”

      Huh?? What are you trying to prove? That Korean men hate foreigners, but love white women?

      These “Many americans since World War II” you speak of frequently purchased sexual services from women in SE Asian countries. Thus their “beauty” was exoticized and the women hypersexualized, birthing a myth of sexual subservience, willingness, then desire, and a cycle of sexual subjugation. “Me so horny. Me love you long time”?

      What does this have to do with Korean men?

      Sorry, but: WTF are you saying??

  11. How does deference to white skin organically turn to wanting to look white?

    I think that it is perhaps worth reading a study of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu about his theory of class distinction. It is not productive to overfocus on the pseudo-concept of race because what we really have is a continuum. Moreover, American views on “races” are very specific to that country and sounds quite weird in West continental Europe, like in France for example. (Racism in the sense of xenophobia, on the other hand, does well at exports, of course.) For instance, in France, President Obama is not considered as black. (There was on TV a tense discussion about that between Paul Auster and some French philosophers, like Michel Onfray.) On the other side of the Atlantic, in the USA, a hispanic person is not considered White…

    Coming back to Bourdieu, he explains how the dominated classes crave the symbols of the dominant classes. Nothing to do with races. Of course, you may argue that this is a kind of Marxist analysis, but why discarding a method that takes seriously very real elites and power… races?

    On a side-note, I often note how the opinion of young Korean women, born and raised in Korea, is not assiduously sought on this matter. I know that on sensitive topics like sex, everybody lies in the polls, even if secrecy is guaranteed, but it is not too hard to get a honest opinion on beauty standards. My personal inquiries with such women made clear to me that these ladies are very aware that they are seeking Western standards of (purported) beauty, defined as what the load of magazine constantly provide, without actually naming the propaganda at play, of course. They ignore it at the same time, if not asked, because what is __also__ sought is social distinction, in the sense of Bourdieu. This is not incompatible at all and James has definitely a point here. (Michael Hurt opinions are different, as he takes for granted “white privilege” and “colour blindness” as valid universal concepts instead of a by-product of an American subculture. It is so ironical that he succumbed to the superficiality of fashion photography and, in all places, in Korea where, according to him, “whiteness” (whatever that means) is worshipped.)

    Ah, yes, I almost forgot my usual rant here: Evolutionary psychology is a pseudo-science.It is not the first taught in college and it won’t be the last. Still, I firmly side with late Stephen Jay Gould on this matter: while biology certainly has an impact on society and the sociologist herself (like a natural tendency to enjoy sugar), culture standards have an ENORMOUS impact (so upper-class people are more aware of this biological streak for sweets and control it more in average). Education and culture is what makes us human, not psychology so much. Moreover, any argument about psychology is doomed by the quick occurrence of the words “unconscious” or “subconscious”: they are supposed to support an argument whilst instead begging the question (I even managed to rant about begging questions;-). If something is unconsciously done, it is not perceived by the conscience fot he agent, so how can one convince logically said agent of something looking for her as a guess, at best, and an attempt at manipulation, at worse? Let’s talk about demonstrable facts instead and keep the rest for “philosophy over the counter,” as is said in France.

  12. I’d just like to step in while there is still love in the room to thank Jake Lee for stepping up to this question.

    Whenever you web with James you’re gonna get pummeled with words ;-)

    But this is a valuable conversation and it normally turns ugly on the intarwebs.

    So when will Mr. Lee get his blog going?

    • Well in my defense Charles, my reply is shorter than Jake’s email! Point about the debate well taken though…which I confess I’m too mentally drained from writing the post to weigh into myself yet.

  13. To Jake Lee, sorry if I sound aggressive *-*
    but I continue to refute the ‘golden ratio’ or ‘universal standard of beauty’ on the basis that, yes to a point, it is true. But to define ‘beauty’ with all the social contexts involved, with fractions and numbers, is insubstantial.
    ultimately beauty is about how you want to be judged in a society where ideals and trends are frequent to change and conformity is the fastest way to avoid ostracism. It’s the reason why many teenage girls have insecurities about their face and body.
    Furthermore, the golden ratio doesn’t explain why beauty ideals have changed so much or why there are so many fashion trends. Think curvaceous Monroe to the prepubescent ‘twiggy’, Megan Fox vs Kim Tae Hee. Yes, they all have symmetrical faces, big eyes, etc, but they are also all radically different. Beauty is as much a reflection of the current social context, as it is a reflection of the human’s innate worship of beauty.

    + I really think the origins of the Caucasion influence on the Korean standard of beauty is a result of the domination of the American market and pop culture. Isn’t the standard of beauty pretty much the same for most Asian countries? I personally don’t see much difference between chinese, korean and japanese celebrities.
    It’s just that Korean beauty specifically has weirdly transformed into an formulaic, oppressive tool within society that doesn’t allow for a sense of individual expression for fear of social ostracism.

  14. “One important thing I should add is that if Caucasian women have noses bigger than the universal standard, one would expect that Caucasian women would be getting operations to have them reduced with the same alacrity that Korean women, say, get double-eyelid surgery. “

    I have known Caucasian women who were self-conscious about their noses but didn’t get surgery. I think rhinoplasties are less common among whites because it is a complex procedure that costs more and entails greater risks. Moreover, adul.t American women tend to put much less effort into their appearance than Korean women. We wear less make-up, dress more casually, and aren’t afraid to put our oily hair in a ponytail. I and other American women have favorite and not-so-favorite features, but we simply aren’t willing to pay a doctor to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broken. Reflecting America’s ethnic diversity, there is no single cookie-cutter standard of beauty as there appears to be in Korea, judging by the cloning effect of plastic surgery on entertainers.

    Visual enlargement through eyelid surgery, mandible shaving, and chin implants all create features associated with youth, but silicone nose rods do the the opposite. Some Koreans get such big fake-looking rods put in that it looks like a movie make-up artist stuck on a plastic nose. A prominent nose does not indicate youth or fertility on women, so there is no natural basis for this desire for a feature found on most whites but almost no Koreans.

  15. “Isn’t the standard of beauty pretty much the same for most Asian countries? I personally don’t see much difference between chinese, korean and japanese celebrities.
    It’s just that Korean beauty specifically has weirdly transformed into an formulaic, oppressive tool within society that doesn’t allow for a sense of individual expression for fear of social ostracism.”

    Attractive female entertainers in all three countries have the same features we’ve discussed: large eyes, a straight nose, full lips, and a heart-shaped or oval face. Plastic surgery appears to be common among Japanese women and among Chinese women who can afford it. Natural double lids are more common among the Chinese, especially those of southern heritage. There are middle-aged Chinese entertainers of both sexes who are naturally blessed with extremely attractive faces. Younger Chinese entertainers are more likely to have improved on mother nature. I’ve never seen a Korean or Japanese actress with a face as beautiful as Maggie Cheung’s although Lee Mi-sook comes close.

  16. Nick, you do make a good point about how prejudice affects people’s idea of beauty, but I guess I don’t really see the point you’re trying to make with Mr. Hounsou. I’ve acknowledged that there are culture specific standards of beauty. Prejudice is part of this. Is your example supposed to counter my claim that in addition to these culture specific standards, there is also a universal standard? Just wanting a little clarification. Btw, I do believe there would be many Koreans who find Mr. Hounsou attractive. As Dr. Etcoff points out, “Despite racism, misperceptions, and misunderstandings, people have always been attracted to people of other races.”

    Also, the comparison using Commodore Perry is not a valid one. If the Japanese people back then were exposed to overwhelmingly positive images of white people as Japanese people are now, and they still thought the white people were ugly, you might have a point. But as it stands, your comparison seems to be an inaccurate one.

    “All in all, I think the white attractive thing is more indicitive of Korean self-loathing meeting xenophobia” This is your opinion and I have to accept it I suppose. Just as long as you realize that this is an opinion and not a fact, and that you concede the possibility that your opinion may be as prejudiced as those racist Koreans you are railing against. Because frankly, I see no difference between those racist Koreans, and your characterization of Koreans as a whole.

    Christian, thanks for the post. I don’t think I expressed myself clearly there. I think the problem was the word “organically”. I do agree with your points btw. I just disagree with how much the influence the “dominant class” has over the Korean standards of beauty. That’s the issue I had with Michael Hurt’s blog. In his view, he left very little room for any other theory except for the influence of the dominant class, and I found this to be highly problematic. He did make a few allowances, but they were very few and were drowned out by his strong assertion that Korean women are heavily influenced by the standards of the dominant class, as if this is an almost natural product or growth of American cultural imperialism. That’s the idea I was going for, but I think I sacrificed clarity for the sake of brevity.

    I absolutely believe that the dominant class influences the dominated. I touch on that subject at the end of the email I sent to James. But again, I can’t believe it’s the main factor here in the face of what I see as compelling evidence from the evolutionary psychologists (probably made you cringe with that last statement :). Hopefully, people will do the research themselves before coming to a conclusion, instead of solely relying on this blog.

    btw, I don’t know if Michael Hurt is still blogging or not, but I would love to get his take on this theory of the universal standard and how he thinks it influences the Korean beauty standards, if at all.

    “On a side-note, I often note how the opinion of young Korean women, born and raised in Korea, is not assiduously sought on this matter.”

    Christian, I couldn’t agree with you more here. That’s the problem. Until there is substantive research done on this issue, and get the views of the Korean women themselves, I think it’s healthy for everyone, including myself, to realize that what we have is merely circumstantial evidence at best and pure conjecture at worst.

    Charles: Thank you for that! :) But this very small taste of the blogging world I think is enough for me. It’s been a lot of fun, I have to admit, but it can get exhausting. I seriously don’t know how you and James can do it so consistently.

    Catherine, I absolutely agree with what you’re saying, and like you, I believe that a universal standard and culture specific standards are not incompatible. We just disagree about the degree of influence each one has. I guess that’s all really wanted to do. Just introduce the possibility that there might be another factor at play here besides the western influence. All I can suggest to anyone who is interested in the subject, is to do some research on the universal standard before coming to a conclusion. Nancy Etcoff’s book, *Survival of the Prettiest* is a great place to start. It’s written for the laymen and is a very entertaining read.

    Sonagi: ” I and other American women have favorite and not-so-favorite features, but we simply aren’t willing to pay a doctor to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broken.”

    I have to disagree with you here strongly. I know you were just generalizing, but the evidence just isn’t there that backs you up.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/64921.php

    Even during the recession:

    http://health.msn.com/health-topics/aging/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100242745

    Country with the most plastic surgeries:

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_pla_sur_pro-health-plastic-surgery-procedures

    Plastic surgeries are increasing all around the world, not just Korea.

    Given how difficult it is to have a discussion about this issue without, as Christian mentioned, the input of the Korean women who get or are considering plastic surgery, perhaps it would be worthwhile to look at a different aspect of this.

  17. James, I cut and pasted this from my previous post so it doesn’t get buried. Hope you don’t mind.

    I wanted to pose a couple of questions (I know the topic of plastic surgery is pretty worn out, but hopefully, people will bear with me here). Let’s say for the moment that it is true that all the women over twenty who get plastic surgery currently, including celebrities, are doing so because they are influenced by a white standard. So here’s one of my questions: Why is this so wrong?

    I’m guessing at least a few of the responses will center around issues of identity, and self-esteem, and how damaging it is to truly desire something that you can’t ever achieve. But what if it does make them happier? Is it still wrong?

    I did a quick search and came up with this study: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1762095

    The researchers wanted to find out if cosmetic surgeries actually made people happier. These were the findings among people with reasonable expectations: “It appears that most patients undergoing cosmetic surgery have a good outcome in psychological and psychosocial terms.” Just to divert the discussion to something else for a bit, I wanted to pose a couple of other questions. Let’s say for the moment that it is true that all the women over twenty who get plastic surgery currently, including celebrities, are doing so because they are influenced by a white standard. So here’s one of my questions: Why is this so wrong?

    I’m guessing at least a few of the responses will center around issues of identity, and self-esteem, and how damaging it is to truly desire something that you can’t ever achieve. But what if it does make them happier? Is it still wrong?

    I did a quick search and came up with this study: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1762095

    The researchers wanted to find out if cosmetic surgeries actually made people happier. These were the findings among people with reasonable expectations: “It appears that most patients undergoing cosmetic surgery have a good outcome in psychological and psychosocial terms.” In other words, yes, cosmetic surgery made them happier.

    In other studies, it was shown that women with reasonable expectations get such a boost from plastic surgery that they can even, in some cases, be taken off of antidepressants. There have even been long term studies of ten years and longer which showed a significant percentage of women still having raised self-esteem due to their cosmetic surgical choices.

    Now these are all western studies, but my guess is that for those Korean women who, according to some, want to look more white, and they have reasonable expectations, just getting even a little closer to their white ideals will give them a boost in self-esteem.

    Personally, I’m finding fewer and fewer reasons to oppose plastic surgery as I once did very adamantly.

  18. “It appears that most patients undergoing cosmetic surgery have a good outcome in psychological and psychosocial terms.” In other words, yes, cosmetic surgery made them happier.

    In addition to the brief summary Jake quoted and drew a conclusion from, there was also this summary sentence in the abstract:

    “Overall, patients appeared generally satisfied with the outcome of their procedures, although some exhibited transient and some exhibited longer-lasting psychological disturbance.” (from the abstract)

    Evaluating a cosmetic procedure as having a “good outcome” and feeling “satisfied” do not mean that those people became “happier” in their lives because of it. Besides the risks noted in the study, there is also the issue of cost. Money spent on plastic surgery, make-up, clothing, and other appearance-related goods and services is money NOT spent on education or saved as a down payment on a home. Women and increasingly men have to make choices between investing in education or assets or investing in appearance because looks do help one obtain employment and more choices in dating and marriage.

    In an evolutionary sense, a lot of Korean men get punked when they marry surgically enhanced women because their kids won’t have the same big eyes and heart-shaped faces.

  19. Feminine beauty blog is certainly claims that Caucasians poses number of features that considered universally attractive by most if i am not mistaken .

    The second issues is .how important is persons appearance in making them happy ?
    Some studies claim that it does make them feel happier , but is it making them happier in long term or only short one ??

    Interesting stuff ….but needs more sources !!

  20. Does Lee HyoRi considered not beautiful because of Kim Tae Hee ‘s so called ideal proportions ?

    and i had misspelling above posses not poses .

  21. Whatsonthemenu: I’m wondering if you read the study in its entirety? I read it last night, albeit just once and skipping over the methodology, but I felt as if I had a pretty good grasp of it. Yes, some patients exhibited ” transient and some exhibited longer-lasting psychological disturbance.” But most of these patients were deemed to have unrealistic expectations or preexisting psychological disorders such as depression, bulimia/anorexia, and body dysmorphic disorder. That’s why I decided to leave them out of the conversation because plastic surgery to these people is a means to express their disorder and not the cause of it. So the conclusion that the writers of the study reached was that doctors should do a better job of screening these people out.

    The researchers were also very careful to use word “reasonable” in their analysis, and I tried to do the same. So, among those patients with *reasonable* expectations, the majority were happy with the results.

    You wrote: “Evaluating a cosmetic procedure as having a “good outcome” and feeling “satisfied” do not mean that those people became “happier” in their lives because of it.”

    Like I mentioned in my previous post, there is growing evidence out their that suggests people do indeed become “happier.” Here’s another link with similar information:

    http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2007/02/does_feeling_mo.html

    Sidenote: I also noticed that she recommends Nancy Etcoff’s “Survival of the Prettiest” at the bottom of her page. :)

    Here’s another study that was presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons conference:

    http://www.locateadoc.com/articles/five-reasons-why-cosmetic-surgery-makes-you-happier-1514.html

    I think it’s fine to be skeptical of all of these studies. But at the very least, with the ever growing popularity of plastic surgery, a trend that is here to stay, we should at least be giving this issue some consideration instead of a curt dismissal. I’m not necessarily accusing you of doing that, Whatsonthemenu. But I’ve seen many others who have.

    And about the other points you mention, these are valid points. If it were my choice, I would absolutely love to have people use the surgery money for those items that you mentioned. This world would be a better place for it. But I also realize that this is not going to happen for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being, of course, the evolutionary imperative. So instead of expending most of our energy in getting people to stop, it might actually be more productive at this point to find more ways in which plastic surgery can enhance people’s lives.

    “In an evolutionary sense, a lot of Korean men get punked when they marry surgically enhanced women because their kids won’t have the same big eyes and heart-shaped faces.” :-) True, but then designer babies, i.e., genetic engineering is just around the corner, and the game will change again.

    isletss: Yes, I believe Lee Hyori would be considered beautiful by the Universal Standard.

  22. “So instead of expending most of our energy in getting people to stop, it might actually be more productive at this point to find more ways in which plastic surgery can enhance people’s lives. “

    So you’d like to encourage plastic surgery, rather than discourage it? Why? Those who chose plastic surgery were mostly satisfied, but that does not mean that those who do not pursue plastic surgery would be happier if they did.

  23. Whatsonthemenu, no, I don’t think we should encourage plastic surgery. I think we should still continue to promote other methods of raising our self esteem which includes diet and exercise, and continually remind ourselves, especially the younger people, that this pursuit of beauty, while ,imo, natural, may not always be the right choice for them. I think it is very important that there are as many alternatives as possible. Having said that, I’m also aware of the reality that no matter how much of an effort there has been to reduce the role and importance of beauty in our society, especially here in America, this desire for beauty has only increased, which can be seen in the ever growing popularity and acceptance of plastic surgery in the U.S.

    And it’s my firm belief that this quest for beauty will not be ending any time soon, if ever. So the question is, what do we do with the people, who despite all of the discouragements, opt for plastic surgery anyways? So what you quoted was my answer to that question. In other words, we should help these people, in whatever form that may take, to make sure that they are happy with the procedures (again, assuming these are patients with *reasonable* expectations), and that they continue to be happy with the results for as long as possible.

    From our end, it may be as simple as not berating and ridiculing these people, especially the women, for getting the plastic surgery in the first place, calling them white-washed, self-loathing, etc.

    And about the word “satisfied”, I realize it’s difficult to measure someone’s level of contentment. But I chose to use the word “happy” because that is the word many of the writers, researchers, doctors, and even patients used when discussing this topic. “Life-changing” is another phrase that I’ve come across a few times from the patients themselves. So I felt pretty confident that the emotions we’re talking about here are somewhat stronger and more positive than what “satisfied” generally conveys.

    • Jake, come back. The response to your thoughts here might’ve been discouraging (why the backlash I wonder? Universal beauty ideal really such a distasteful idea?), but your stance is refreshing and your mind is sharp. Your input would help out the ongoing discussion quite a bit.

  24. @ Jake:

    Somehow I overlooked your comment with three links about plastic surgery in the US.

    The first link presents a survey showing that a majority of Americans “approve of plastic surgery.” Approving of it and actually paying for a procedure are not the same thing.

    The second link is mostly anecdotes.

    The third link is the weakest. First, the stats compare total numbers, not percentages, so of course, countries with larger populations will have more procedures. Second, the stats themselves are unreliable as pointed out by several commenters.

    I searched for reliable, equivalent statistics comparing either the number of procedures or better yet, the number of people who’ve had procedures done, but I could not find one of these two kinds of statistics for both countries.

    My perception that plastic surgery is more common in Korea is anecdotal. The only person under forty I know of who’s had a procedure is a woman who had her extremely large breasts reduced because they were causing back problems. This was a medical procedure covered by insurance, not a cosmetic procedure simply to enhance her appearance. Women do get nose jobs and boob jobs, but I don’t know anyone personally who has. In Korea, I knew several women who’d had eyelid surgery and one women who’d had a nose job, too.

    “In other words, we should help these people, in whatever form that may take, to make sure that they are happy with the procedures (again, assuming these are patients with *reasonable* expectations), and that they continue to be happy with the results for as long as possible. “

    How should we help these people? By writing cheerful blog posts and comments praising eyelid jobs and boob jobs? I’m not completely against plastic surgery, but I question the return on investment and opportunity cost and the risk of ending up looking like the freak with the pointy chin in this Joongang Ilbo photo.

  25. “One can say that plastic surgery in the States or the West is also in major effect these days, but the crucial difference is that Westerners aren’t getting their epicanthic fold removed, breasts reduced, cheekbones raised, nose bridges removed, or calves fattened up.”

    Why stop at cosmetic surgery procedures? Well they certainly do seem to be trying to lose weight (As long as we’re having fun generalizing, Asian women are slimmer no?), going under expensive cosmetic procedures to have smooth, even, poreless skin (Asian people naturally have better skin tone) – hmm does tanning come into the question here? Or are whites trying to ‘emulate’ hispanics? Or perhaps we should consider they are just trying to emulate celebrities and upper class people who actually got their tans at St. Barts…and it actually ends there instead of spiraling into some debate about our hidden desires to be some dominant race? Caucasian women spend a lot of time getting their excess hair ripped off with hot wax. (Smooth, hairless Asian skin?) Mascara to disguise pale lifeless lashes? Totally copying the Asians. What’s with women dying their hair a deep chestnut brown or even black? Could it be…an attempt to pretend they are Korean? Ugh, no.

    I agree with Jake, attractiveness is attractiveness. We emulate Kim Taehee because she has a perfectly proportioned face, flawless skin and pleasing features. A certain look hits a chord with people and people naturally try to imitate them. How is this any different from fashion? Sometimes this can be achieved with a pair of leggings, a hair cut, a eye job. Sometimes it’s more.

    Lawyeredup, it sounds like your parents have been drinking the koolade while spending years trying to scratch out a living in the US. My parents would studied in the US but returned to Korea after and they would never say such a thing – in fact both of them seemed to find caucasian women too angular, too big, too whatever. The most common comment they make is that woman has bad ‘palja’ (a type of fortune telling deduced by the composition of facial features) when they see caucasian actresses on TV.

    I think the poster makes some great points as well, but some of the replies here are beyond belief. Personally, the idea of me wanting to look like a Caucasian woman is laughable. (Ah, I guess you go ahead and jump down my throat, I doubt I’ll be coming back to read the replies) I’m glad my eyes are large (since that is a universal standard of beauty) but without the overpowering double eyelid of the Caucasian eye. I’m glad I have Asian skin because people still mistake me for a freshman in college. I’m glad I don’t have to get hot wax ripped off my skin every other week. And no, I haven’t had cosmetic surgery and don’t plan too either. But I may dye my hair dark brown from its usual black this winter, so when you see me in the street, you can go ahead and talk how I’ve fallen in the the trap of trying to be a race I’m not and continue to enforce the tired dominator/dominated bifurcation.

    • No no no, Seung Ah. See, you don’t understand their arguments because you are but a meek brainless Asian woman.

      Despite you saying that you don’t desire to look white, the truth is far different, you are just too dumb to figure out your motivations! Of course!

      Listen to all the white people who know you far better than you know yourself!

      It’s genius!

  26. It is rather humorous that the people making this “Asian women wish to be white” argument are usually white themselves, and also usually American, and they always believe themselves to be expert on Asian women, more so than actual Asian women.

    It’s borderline insulting to Asian women to suggest that their entire concept of beauty revolves around wanting to be “whiter”, as if they lack the intelligence to figure things out for themselves.

    “No no no, we know you don’t think you do things in order to be ‘white’, but I know you are trying to be white. You can’t argue with it.”

    People find this argument intelligent? It’s insulting.

    How are these features are seen as “white” to begin with anyway, especially when other races commonly have features such as double eyelid or higher nose bridges?

    It reminds me of the argument that people make to justify their borderline racist views on minority women in general.

    “Well, I don’t usually like black/latina/asian women, but she looks white, so that’s why I like her.”

    It’s like people who insist any black woman who straightens their hair wants to be “white”. Why is “white” the standard? Asians have straighter hair, but it’s still the white standard. Gee, I wonder why.

    • It is rather humorous that the people making this “Asian women wish to be white” argument are usually white themselves…

      Yes, it’s hilarious. But perhaps you could explain the relevance?

      …and also usually American…

      I’m not as it happens, but again: relevance?

      …and they always believe themselves to be expert on Asian women, more so than actual Asian women

      Hmmm. Could you please provide some actual evidence of this?

      It’s borderline insulting to Asian women to suggest that their entire concept of beauty revolves around wanting to be “whiter”, as if they lack the intelligence to figure things out for themselves.

      No-one is suggesting that Asian women’s “entire concept of beauty revolves around wanting to be whiter,” nor is that quite the same as saying that they “lack the intelligence to figure things out for themselves.”

      “No no no, we know you don’t think you do things in order to be ‘white’, but I know you are trying to be white. You can’t argue with it.”

      It’s a hell of a leap of faith on my part, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for a moment and assume that you did actually read the blog post. If so, you’ve gotten it entirely wrong. And “you can’t argue with it”? Who said that?

      People find this argument intelligent? It’s insulting.

      No, because that argument is entirely in your head.

      How are these features are seen as “white” to begin with anyway, especially when other races commonly have features such as double eyelid or higher nose bridges?

      Dealt with, in this post and numerous others. Now you did at least read this one, yes?

      It reminds me of the argument that people make to justify their borderline racist views on minority women in general.

      Well, I was biting my tongue about you projecting, but now you just make it impossible…

      “Well, I don’t usually like black/latina/asian women, but she looks white, so that’s why I like her.”

      It’s like people who insist any black woman who straightens their hair wants to be “white”. Why is “white” the standard? Asians have straighter hair, but it’s still the white standard. Gee, I wonder why.

      May I ask why you wrote your comments? Other than to feel some solidarity with Seungah K., similarly affronted by Caucasians daring to suggest that “Caucasianess” might have some role – yes, only “might” and “some” – in East Asian women’s body ideals that is? If, perchance, you wanted to convince arrogant, racist Caucasians such as myself of the error of their ways, then perhaps you could do them the courtesy of demonstrating that you actually read their arguments and engaging with them on specific points they made. NOT putting words in their mouths and making baseless claims of their racist, superior attitudes to Asian women.

      Sigh, the irony of being described as a racist by someone who seems so fixated on my being Caucasian. Sorry “lol,” but if you want to keep commenting here then you’re going to have to get over my race.

      Respond to what I say, not who I am, and we might be able to learn something from each other.

  27. The East Asian standard of beauty is European. East Asians deny it but it is true. All the features they desire are common among Europeans plus Europeans have many different hair and eye colors that are natural and exclusive to them. BTW, white skin is exclusively found in Europe. East Asians have a light yellow to pale black skin color. You can deflect that hair, eye and skin color choices among East Asians are about self expression (which they are not) but you can’t deny East Asians desire to shave their faces down so they are narrower and raise the bridge of their noses and widen their eyes to look more European. Here is just one video showing Korean celebrities before (Korean-looking) to after (European wannabe):

  28. Hey James,

    Your work is fascinating and is quite hilarious at times. I am currently writing a thesis on cosmetic surgery in South Korea and your blog really caught my interest. I wanted to just add to the comments here and to also add to your discussion. Beware, this might get a little long.

    First of all, I know people can get quite defensive when people say Korean women are undergoing cosmetic surgery to become “white.” (evidence of the comments above). I mean honestly, nobody would like to hear that. Also, Korean women, as was mentioned in your blog and in other people’s comments, dont go around piping that they did their eyes to look white. One of the driving factors in contemporary society as to why Korean women go under the knife is because 1) cosmetic surgery is a marker for upper class wealth 2)social mobility and 3)economic stability. Women get their faces done or whatever part they deem necessary to look prettier because beauty gets jobs and husbands in an extremely competitive market, and I mean both the market for jobs and husbands. Furthermore, If you take the time to read Korean forums on cosmetic surgery, a majority of women undergo cosmetic surgery to gain self confidence. It is quite interesting and tragic as well that many of the Korean women who post on these forums talk about how cosmetic surgery will bring a new stage in their lives. Beauty is everything. And they talk about searching for self-esteem like they never had it in the first place and the only way to be “reborn” “transformed” or to gain their lost self-esteem is through cosmetic surgery. Some of these Korean women are aware of the pressures on them from society to get cosmetic surgery as well and they complain about those reasons too. Korean society is not only very conscious about appearances but how those appearances conform with what the cultural norms are. Therefore, if one girl gets a job because of a pretty nose or eye job, then there will be tons of women who will go get that nose job in the hopes that their chances for getting the next job will be increased. Its a dog eat dog world.

    Now set that all aside. I believe that everything has a historical context and cosmetic surgery in South Korea is no exception. Cosmetic surgery in South Korea didn’t just appear in the 1990s to attain a “universal beauty standard.” Nor is the pervasive popularity of specific procedures just because of modernization and the consumer culture it brings. First of all, I take issue with the claim of a “universal beauty standard”. Modernization and globalization has complicated a lot of things so what may seem true now may not ring true when societies were isolated from each other. Korea, for example, was known as the hermit kingdom due to their refusal to open up to foreign influences until they were basically pried open. BEAUTY STANDARDS THEN did not fall in line with “universal” beauty standards now, to say the least. An oval and round face as well as small features were considered beautiful. If you look at old portraits of Korean women, do you see women with overly sized doey eyes and shaved V-line chins? Or whatever the damn letter is? It is quite the opposite.

    Beauty standards may all seem the same way now but that is because we have been socialized to think a certain way due to overwhelming western influences. I know this is an argument that some people get tired of hearing but that is just the truth. Modern history was dominated by our Western/European counterparts and as globalization is rapidly changing the way information is disseminated, such beauty ideals are able to really influence the individual sitting in the living room in any part of the world privy to a tv or any other popular media outlet and those channels in their native language that send such messages. Korean media is no exception. As we all know the Korean media is largely responsible for the beauty standards that Korean women consume.

    Now, lets talk about history some more. Since each country has a different history, such history should be used to help explain why certain practices become widespread. Yes, cosmetic surgery is a universal phenomenon in that people do it all over the world. But depending on the place, certain plastic surgery procedures are preferred over others. The question here that we need to ask, in which James has been eloquently trying to answer, is why do women go for such particular procedures?? To attain a universal beauty standard?? Well that answer would make everything too easy now wouldn’t it?
    And I already said that in Korea, beauty was quite different until they were confronted with different bodies such as the west.

    Korean people are first and foremost going to do cosmetic surgery on their eyes, nose, and chin. The most popular being the Double eyelid surgery. Now James emphasizes why the double-eyelid??? Why is this procedure the most popular?? Just because the SUPPOSEDLY universal standard dictates this? Or because Asian women just want to be white?? We really need to probe a lot deeper. WHY, to Korean women, is the big doey double eye lid considered beautiful when arguably before the infiltration of the west, it wasn’t?

    Now, I know there is a percentage of Korean people who already have the double eyelid, so whats the big deal? Well the big deal is that those who didn’t have the double eyelid were considered just as good looking until this ideal changed. The fact that the single lid was problematized after a certain point in Korean history is telling of the fact that perceptions in Korean society began to change. Beauty standards is not in fact universal. Something was influencing Koreans to change their mind. Now what was it??

    I look at Korean history in the past century as a whole bunch of successive traumatic events which modernization has just served to confuse and exacerbate Korean society. You have Japanese colonization, then independence which was shortlived with the U.S. occupation, then the split of the peninsula, the fatricidal Korean War, and the ensuing U.S. dominance that followed afterwards. Then without much time in between Koreans were caught in a nationalistic frenzy to economically develop, then democratization happened, and then market forces opened up and voila! in a matter of 30 years Korea is not only a democracy, it is one of the biggest economies in the world, and is still experiencing the onslaught of modernization. What does this equal?? A very confused and unstable society. I honestly think the Korean people have not been able to properly digest their traumatic past. Now what does this have to do with cosmetic surgery? Read on if you haven’t been bored out of your mind yet.

    Now starting from Japanese colonization, Koreans were taught to believe they were inferior. Since the Japanese didn’t look too different from Koreans, they couldn’t really harp on the whole racially different argument to establish their superiority. However, it was a traumatic experience nonetheless, in which the Korean people were subjected to mental and psychological degradation where they were made to believe, they were not
    “good enough.”

    Now with the entrance of the Americans during and after the Korean War, this is where I believe Koreans began to see their bodies, their PHYSICAL FEATURES as defected and flawed. Other scholars such as Tae Yon Kim and David Palumbo-liu discuss this affect on the Korean people as they were confronted with an overwhelming presence of American bodies. The Americans, upon coming to Korea to “help” the “poor people”, were confronted with a curious looking bunch. One of those Americans, by the name of Dr. Millard, set out to fix such faces in order to “read” the Koreans better. Dr. Millard was a military surgeon who was sent to Korea on a good will mission to reconstruct war-damaged bodies. Dr. Millard, in addition, to reconstructing such “war damaged bodies” became obsessed with making the Korean or “oriental” legible for the American people. He thought the single lid made Koreans look lazy, sneaky, untrustworthy and basically dumb. He became the first white person to create a double-eyelid surgery for the Asian face. This is monumental. Although double-eyelid surgery was present in Japan before the introduction of cosmetic surgery in Korea, what David Palumbo-liu states and other authors also cite him, is that cosmetic surgery actually reached its popular high point in Korea during this time frame. Dr. Millard began to “treat” Korean patients and he has photos of his first korean patients in his original work, Oriental Peregrinations. It’s fascinating and extremely disturbing at the same time. Basically the Korean people were mentally brainwashed to view their eyes, their facial shape as inherently flawed. THeir natural features were a defect meant to be fixed. The introduction of Dr. Millard’s double eyelid surgery during the Korean War really shows how cosmetic surgery is tied up with trauma, war, and foreign domination. The words he used to describe Korean eyes in his articles, are used in Korean websites, in present day korean websites to describe natural single lidded Korean eyes. Why is it that the words used to describe Korean eyes by a an American military surgeon during the Korean War, used to describe Korean eyes in modern day society?? Korean websites are carrying on the tradition of passing on this idea that Korean eyes are naturally defected, if you have the single-lid that is. And the only difference is that now, double eyelid surgery is cloaked under the label for women to look more beautiful.

    There are more linguistic connections in descriptions of the asian eye that harks back to Koreas traumatic history but I won’t go into it.

    So Korean women undergo cosmetic surgery to look more beautiful and yes we can just stop it at there. They just want to look beautiful. But why I ask again, those CERTAIN aspects? Why did those certain aspects become what was “Beautiful?” when it wasn’t before? Although Korean women may not know that they are changing their eyes based on white standards of beauty, (in fact many wholeheartedly believe the double eyelid surgery is tailored to make asian eyes more beautiful) single-lidded eyes were problematized because of confrontations with the West and now it has become so commonplace in Korea that these origins have been forgotten and it is now a natural thing to think. That single lidded small eyes are ugly and big doey eyes are pretty and that is just the way it is because they are told that and they consume that every day of their lives.

    I think, saying Korean people are fixing their eyes to become more Caucasion is not the right way to put it. In my opinion, Korean people are fixing their eyes because they are naturally made to believe that it is flawed, a legacy that was left by Korea’s historical trauma. I see cosmetic surgery in Korean society as a way Korean people are trying to reconcile their “flawed bodies” and “fix” themselves. I look at cosmetic surgery a bit differently and it might seem a bit far fetched but when you keep digging, sometimes you can’t help but think this way.

    This is where trauma comes into the picture. My argument, basically sees unresolved trauma as a major factor in the pervasive practice of cosmetic surgery, especially the double eyelid. I won’t go in depth there because that would require me to talk about trauma and how trauma can last for generations. But anyways I hope that my comments show cosmetic surgery in Korea is wrapped up in a lot of complex issues.

    IT IS NOT just about attaining a beauty standard or to look white. There are historical consequences that explain as well as add to the modern picture of why Korean women flock to clinics to get their eyes done.

    This message probably won’t be read but this was a really great exercise for me to keep my mind active and up to date with all the stuff I have to read for my research. I know it was quite selfish of me to post such a long entry so my apologies.

    But hopefully somebody learns something and gains or at least thinks again when discussing this subject.

    • Hey James,

      I replied to your email but I reply to this comment as well! It is perfectly fine!

      Also, I read my post again and I didn’t specify what kind of Korean websites, I meant Korean cosmetic surgery websites.

      Also another piece of interesting information is that cosmetic surgery originally had a bad reputation due to its associations with prostitutions during and after the Korean War. Basically cosmetic surgery was seen as disreputable because Korean war brides were the ones who mostly underwent cosmetic surgery in order to better assimilate into their new American husband’s life. These Korean War Brides were seen as prostitutes and some of them really were. So another little interesting piece to the whole picture –> forwarding now 50 years later cosmetic surgery is such a pervasive practice that it is now quite the cultural norm.

      I have provided some readings that briefly talk about this, because cosmetic surgery in Korea is such a little explored subject in Academia, and the majority of the articles just skim the surface, the literature below I believe has done some justice on the topic as well as how U.S. domination has affected Korean society.

      Dissertation called the “The Moving Eye: From Cold War Racial Subject to Middle Class Cosmopolitan, Korean cosmetic Eyelid Surgery, 1955-2001″ by Taeyon Kim

      Nadia Kim, Imperial Citizens

      David Palumbo-liu, Asian/American: historical crossings of a Racial frontier.

  29. I have lived in both Korean and Japan. East Asians do indeed idealize, covet, and seek to copy White features and standards of beauty. It is both self deception and outright lying when they deny the obvious.

    However, with that said, many East Asians:

    1. Mix White and International standards of beauty with their own. Thus often reflect a bi-racial look as the national standard.

    Asians can’t magically transform themselves into Whites, but what they can do is look more White. So, what you get is a unique blend. The idea standard is often a bi-racial look between White and Asian.

    International standards of beauty and what is fashionable or trendy are not always exclusively White. Latino and Black standards of beauty, body image, style, fashions, music, culture, etc… can penetrate into East Asia. This often then gets added into the blend or become part of fads.

    2. Many East Asians are often more consciously following popular trends and copying famous people, then they are trying to be White or rejecting their race.

    I think that this part confuses many Whites and Westerners. When many Whites see Asians copying their features(like dying their hair, color contacts, or nose surgery) they often automatically assume it is out of self-hate or not wanting to be Asian anymore. This is not true, and most Asians don’t hate themselves like that, except in extreme cases.

    It is like with Whites listening to Black Hip Hop music. The Whites don’t hate themselves because they like Black Music or copy Black fashion styles. Instead they want to be cool and in style. They blend the Black styles with their own White styles and culture.

    The color contacts or dying of hair can be seen more as something in fashion. It is presently a stylish way to look, but it isn’t something that can’t be changed. If Latino or Black looks or styles became more popular, then they would follow that. And how much they follow a look or style reflects economics and popularity.

    Take for instance Black full lips or curvy bubble butt. Those are not White features, but they have become popular in many countries, and with Asians to a certain extent. So those features are often blended into Asian fashion, styles, and looks.

    Many East Asians want what is considered high class, more from a social status or materialistic sense. They are proud to be Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc… They may even discriminate or have prejudice against Whites. What they want is to be considered of a higher social status and considered closer to an idea standard of beauty.

    Many Asians don’t question WHERE this standard comes from or how it came about, even if it is copying from Whites, but simply want to be higher in social status in their country.

    3. The emulation of White standards of beauty has a lot to do with money, media, and popularity. You are arguably better off looking from that perspective, versus racial superiority or racial self-hate.

    The standard for many Asians can easily change if White European economic or media influence becomes less. Say that China, Brazil, or India become more world influential countries. That means that their styles and standards will penetrate Korea more and be reflected in what is considered beautiful and fashionable among Koreans.

  30. This was a really interesting point. And I think I tend to agree with you more than I do Jake. But for me this point extends beyond one or two cultures. I am intrigued by the idea cultural beauty standards as a whole. I find it interesting that while there are definitely masculine appearance standards, we don’t often see men conforming to those through cosmetic surgery when they don’t meet them. Do you have any thoughts on that male / female divide and why the standard for female appearance seems to be higher or more “important”?

  31. Asian girls in particular would be white man’s wh*re esp. the korean, chinese, and japanese/Phillipinos. don’t get me wrong you and ur kind are frankly pathetic for making so called “excuses” that u only date white guys even though WHITE guys commited gen0cide around the world including in Japan/Korea/Phillipines/Vietnam/China, and Thailand-Laos etc.(white man’s paedophile whor* country). This is just so pathetic and wrong on so many levels. Asian girls IMO suffer from this which is worse than cancer. i would trteat u less than human. BTW i’m Indian. i’m being factual and absolutely no personal opinion and nothing here is exageration. go do ur Asian surgery to ur face, change ur name, and religion…like pretty much everything.

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