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Is blech-pharoplasty Western-eyes-ation? - click opera
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Thu, May. 11th, 2006 01:18 pm
Is blech-pharoplasty Western-eyes-ation?

Japanese women -- at least as they appear in the Japanese pop media -- are turning into bug-eyed monsters. I first noticed it in pop and porn stars; these days, the free movies page of a Japanese porn site like CPZ is a freak show of Photoshopped, fish-eyed and scalpelled eyes mooning at the visitor. These girls no longer look like real people, so they're no longer sexy.

Who or what do we blame for this grotesque and sad development? Ayumi Hamasaki is the highest-profile pop star to have had the eye-widening surgery known as blepharoplasty. (Blech-pharoplasty, I call it.)

"Blepharoplasty is the scientific name for this eye-widening surgery," explains Kevin James Wong in The Cavalier Daily. "Its original use was to smooth out the skin around the eyes in order to decrease the signs of aging. The process itself involves cutting the upper eyelid into two halves. Flesh and fat is then removed from the eyelid, and the lower part of the eyelid is reattached slightly beneath the upper part in order to form a crease. Thus, the process succeeds in widening the eye, and it creates the appearance of a crease in the upper eyelid, which around half of Asians lack."

Two Japanese doctors on Pub Med, a medical site, have an explanation:

"The reasons for the popularity of this procedure relate to changing concepts of beauty among the Japanese people. Facial anatomy contributes to the appearance of sleepiness and lethargy in the flat, monotone Japanese face. The narrower eye opening does not allow for the maximum viewing of the cornea. The shortened lateral canthus presents a facial balance that is not considered as attractive as one with an extended lateral canthus. The double eyelid procedure corrects these features, producing a face that is considered more beautiful."

Kevin James Wong is more judgemental; "This desire to conform to a Caucasian ideal of beauty is weak-minded and demonstrates a lack of cultural pride," he says. "It is shameful that Asians feel the need to change their eyes in pursuit of this Caucasian ideal."

But is it a Caucasian ideal? The widest human eyes in the world aren't to be found on Western faces (we're somewhat piggy, in fact), but in the images of an indigenous Japanese form, manga. Look at Sailor Moon. Does she look like a Western person?

To call these vast, cute, extra-shiny eyes "Western" is to make the same mistake about a Japanese phenomenon as people like Alex Rich make about the postmodern Japanese city when they call it "Westernized". Modernization does not equal Westernization. To make your eyes big eyes is not to make them Western eyes. Surely what we're seeing here is the ocular version of leapfrogging. Just as the Japanese saw Western toilets and decided to leapfrog us, going straight from holes in the ground to the electronic wonders of the Washlet, so they've leapfrogged Western eyes, going straight for huge ones. It's just a pity it makes them look like frogs.

65CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)

From what I understand the big eye manga thing started with Osamu Tezuka's Astroboy, which was directly referencing the large eyes in Disney cartoons. So while not a direct desire to emulate "western" beauty, one could argue that that beauty ideal is rooted in American culture.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)

Isn't Disney more a part of contemporary Japanese pop-culture than it is American pop-culture?
Just cause Taiwan produces all the computers and Ipods of the world no one accuses them of influencing the world. That argument falls around the Japanese/American/European consumers who make their work profitable.
Disney produces and the Japanese buy it in astonishing numbers.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC)

I agree that this phenomenon isn't just about copying some western idea of beauty. It seems elsewhere and creepier in a way. Similar to the attraction of skin-whitening creams that are so popular throughout asia, I wonder is it leapfrogging or something else. Or for that matter like any Ameri-European going to a tanning salon. I never understand where these beauty ideals come from. Is it really possible to get to the root of those things? Do we even want to find them out?
Yet certainly, you don't see folks like this on the street of Tokyo. And thank goodness, as personally, i'm attracted i to almost everyone I meet and rather like it that way.


The real question is what happened to ayumi Hamazaki, she is just gone these days.





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(Anonymous)
Fri, May. 12th, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)

I always thought that whitening cream in Asia and tanning methods in Europe and America are used because of the wealth-status attatched - either you're pale so rich enough not to have to work outside, or tanned to show you're rich enough to go abroad on holidays. beauty is often connected to wealth. although the example of eye-surgery can imply that this isn't always the case.


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wavy
wavy
Siobhan
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)

I think I agree with you in that it's not a Caucasian ideal they're striving for.. just a beauty ideal. I could say it is similar to breast implants in the US -- only to us because it's on their *faces* it seems like they're trying to erase their identities. But then what about nosejob bandages in US high school cafeterias?

In truth, many Japanese people do have double eyelids naturally and plenty of them don't too. Plenty of people in the US have big knockers and many don't. Which is better is up to the individual or the way they percieve beauty...


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
In South Korea...

The same surgery is popular in Korea - widening the eyes and putting a crease in the eyelid - but there it seems to be entirely for vanity and emulating America to an extent.

It's hard to find an example of the wide-eyed American girls they're aspiring to change their eyes too, but if you ask them WHY they're changing their "small Asian eyes" it's because they think they look "too Korean" or "too Asian". In the "farmer" sense.

Same reason skin whitening products are massively popular in China.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:00 pm (UTC)
Re: In South Korea...

Skin whitening products are massively popular everywhere, and have been since at least ancient Egypt. Really, this whole topic is a total non-issue; it's tabloid talk show fodder (Today: Teenage Asian Girls who have Eye Widening Surgery!).

Vanity motivates people and it always will, whether it's dieting or getting a perm or a tattoo or wearing the latest fashions. It's no more or less valid than having this year's top CDs or being conversant about whatever the latest artistic fad is.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)

"Modernization does not equal Westernization."

Perhaps not in theory, but certainly in practice. Every Eastern nation that has tried to modernize has copied the West. What other successful models are there to choose from?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)

That may be part of the motive, but Japanese national pride has always, quite clearly, said "We'll do what you're doing, but we'll do it much better. And as a result, when we Westerners visit Japan, we sort of recognize what we could be in a sort of ideal world.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
henryperri
henryperri
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)

It's just the fetishization of something that's uncommon in the given race. Most asians have eyes that are too small, most whites are too pale, and most blacks are too dark. Black girls tend to have larger posteriors than white girls; so when I see a black girl with a large ass, I don't usually get all that excited because there's nothing particularly unusual about it. This is the first time I've heard about this eye surgery thing. The girl in the first picture looks like she's about 8 years old; which is another fetish for Japanese men because it's unusual, out-of-bounds.


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)

I have hard to believe that EVERY japanese woman does this surgery thing though. Got any statistics?


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
silenceinspades
silenceinspades
silence in spades
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)

that's sort of unfair.
link is much more attractive than hayasaki.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand


(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)

very smooth how you avoided the "termial decline" trap there...
I also like that you show us your preferences in porn. (the one in the middle remained unclicked, poor gal.)

der.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:05 pm (UTC)

Research, dear Der, research. I work hard for you guys.


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dixie_flatline
dixie_flatline
Konstantin Anikin
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)

AFIK, eyes in Japan represent human soul.
Like Chekhov sez - "Eyes - mirror of the human soul" :)
so, in anime, big eyes add more emotion to the cartoon characters. all this "Caucasian ideal of beaty" - bullshit.
typical for western civilization.




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mwmiller
mwmiller
MWMiller
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)

Every time the subject of Japanese cartoons/comics comes up, someone trots out that old line about the grotesquely huge eyes. If it's true that they're drawn that way because they represent THE SOUL!!! then what do dinky little triangular mouths represent? What do minuscule (sometimes invisible) noses represent? What do utterly unnatural hair colours represent?

No, no, no. Japanese comics & cartoons have so many outsize ocular orbs for the same reason that Yankee comics have so many ripping-muscled superheroes with skintight costumes: because the culture is dangerously in-bred. Just because the slant-eyes do it doesn't make it deep and spyrytual ok.


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kidplastik
kidplastik
Drew
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)

I first heard of double-eyelid surgery when I last visited China. I saw ads all over the place for this surgery and personally thought it was rather sad. I tend to agree with Wong, where as many of the surgeries I have seen were to create the crease rather than to actually widen then eye, which would lead to a more Caucasian looking eye.

But in the case of actually making the eye look bigger, which I had never noticed until this post, I think that's just creepy. Strange what people will do to conform to standards of "beauty" whether it be Western or Eastern standards.


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0260clothing
0260clothing
zero to sixty
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)

IMHO the reason behind the Blepharoplasty, eye-shining drops, fake eyelashes, whitening creams, etc. is to look youthful; their attempt to hang on to youth, beauty, and therefore power.
In Japan the look of pre-teen youth is mainstream sexy as opposed to in the US where a tan, blonde, leggy, more 20-something woman is mainstream sexy.
In the before & after Blepharoplasty photos in the back ads of Japanese magazines, the girls are always arranged to look "baby cute" in the after.


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:24 pm (UTC)

The narrower eye opening does not allow for the maximum viewing of the cornea

Yeah I'm a cornea man myself. First thing I check out when looking for a mate.

I remember looking at Playboy in the '70's and we said ah these photos have been airbrushed. Looking at those photos today those women look natural.

Today the models are airbrushed before the photos are taken.


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_maldorora
_maldorora
M.A.D. Queen of Malak Ta'us
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)

so much for the ideal Japanese "moon face" right?

I agree with your commentors who say this isn't a bid to look more "western." its just face-fashion, just like puffy bee-stung lips are popular here because of an aesthetic ideal, not because some women want to look ?less caucausian?

i read a while back that in S Korean having part of your calves removed is a very popular surgery for women who think their legs are too meaty.

plastic surgery is so common among japanese celebrities, even the males, that its considered unusual to NOT have something done.


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happiesachi
happiesachi
Thu, May. 11th, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
my mom sort of did that

she got the double eyelid.
i was a little wiered out when she went to go do it.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand