Thursday 5 December 2013

Documentary: Change My Race

Source: SBS[/caption]

After watching the documentary Change My Race, I found that it brought up an interesting issue that a lot of people are unaware of or at some points even ignore.

Change My Race touches on the plastic surgery industry in which many Asian women are utilising nowadays to gain more of a western appearance. It may not seem as common in Australia but it really is happening. Myself, as an Australian born Vietnamese, watched this whilst feeling very uneasy. What is it about our own ethnic features that are deemed so unappealing? Do they come off as that unattractive for girls to treat their own bodies as plastic models, readily going under the knife for more of a "white" look. I suppose in a society predominately occupied by caucasian appearances, the norm has come to that of higher nose bridges, bigger noses and pale skin. Yet, even in societies such as Korea (a place the documentary covers) the female population have also turned to westernising their appearance. The trend nowadays is that of a baby face look - the V line as they call it, which consists of big eyes, high nose and pointed chin. In fact the ideal face is displayed almost everywhere in Korea. Billboards, subway stations and the usual ads - the people are being bombarded with an option that seems almost like a compulsory step into being considered beautiful.

That is how beauty is defined according to the documentary, and the girls who undergo plastic surgery. You have to look like an Anglo-Saxon to look beautiful. I find that absolutely absurd. I've always been told to be myself, be confident in who I am and comfortable with my own skin. I'm sure many other girls also have been told that. However, that becomes a major conflict with the standard of beauty this society carries. How can I feel comfortable with who I am when I'm constantly being told by the media and peers around me that have double eyelids is better or a slimmer jaw is what makes me beautiful. Because that's what the plastic surgeon who the host interviewed told her. He actually suggested the host reduce her jawline because then she'll look beautiful. I can tell you now she looked gorgeous already.

Source: SBS[/caption]

What's becoming increasingly frustrating is that this ideal is being pushed not only by the media but also by those closest to these girls. The documentary covered the story of a 17 year old girl who was made to undergo double eyelid surgery, nose filler and chin surgery. All because her parents think all "chinese and vietnamese" girls should do it. What was sadder was that they couldn't see the beauty in their daughter, "a 5 out of 10" beforehand and afterwards looking much "better". It really infuriated me that they felt that every girl of Asian descent had to undergo that type of surgery, and also push their daughter into it. The girl was clearly confident with her own self and didn't even want it but to please her parents she did it. I mean she is carrying their genes, so they're basically dissing themselves.

It is then, necessary for younger girls and boys to be educated to understand that individuality is important, and to not be ashamed of who they are or what they look like. If, even at home, they are forced to believe that their physical appearance is unacceptable how they are suppose to develop a healthy body image and proper self-esteem. That is the most important aspect about a person - self-esteem. Low self-esteem can lead to so many health issues, especially those related to eating disorders. It doesn't help then that these girls are bombarded with such unrealistic ideals in which the only means to achieve it is to basically lose their actual identity.

That's how I, and even the host, sees the act of plastic surgery as. A person is actually carving away what they could've identified themselves with - the culture, heritage, ancestors - and even removing a part that gave them resemblance to their parents. I loved that the host points out the person ceases to be their parents child from that moment. It is hard, and I know this by firsthand experience, to grow in a Western society and be proud of being from a different culture. It was a little easier for me considering I grew up in a place that was predominately Asian and yet, there were moments I felt a little out of place. It's not a great feeling but it doesn't make Asians any lesser than Caucasians. Of course we're different in appearance but in the end we're still human. It took me 18 years and still I am trying to accept me for who I am and that I deserve equality with the "white" people of this world.

Source: SBS

Going into plastic surgery isn't going to automatically give someone a massive surge of confidence. It's just giving you a face you think you need to be accepted. Confidence only comes with acceptance. You need to see yourself for who you are and accept that everyone has flaws. You might not think you're supermodel gorgeous, but supermodel gorgeous shouldn't even be your standard. It's the same with Korean idols that the show talks about it. They've all gone to extreme lengths to look a certain way, obviously not very healthy ways actually, but that doesn't mean all girls should be like that. It's good to be aware that the media only portrays what they think looks great and what society is succumbing to. If the media began to display images of a voluptuous figure that was popular many years back the standard for a "beautiful" girl will again change.

Does that mean then that we want to constantly be controlled by people around us? I certainly don't. I'd like to think that whilst a lot of people don't agree with who I am or how I look, I don't need to worry about them. It's fine because I like the way I look and that's most important. It's how you feel about yourself at the end of the day. Confidence is key and if you try to seek for that by undergoing plastic surgery, I think you need to take a step back and really reflect on yourself. Ask yourself why you are changing the way you look. If the answer is because, well everyone things I should do it to look pretty or because I want to look like all those other people then I'm going to tell you now that's just wrong. I'm not saying plastic surgery should be shunned but that you've thought about it clearly.

For those people who are being bullied for having smaller eyes or darker skin, just remember that sometimes differences freak people out. This is especially true for people who aren't exposed to anything beyond their comfort zone. Is it that wrong to be different then? I mean individuals are suppose to be different, not just in personality but also appearance wise. I think being different makes us special. It doesn't make us any weirder or that we don't belong.  It certainly is better than going under the knife only to come out looking like clones. If everyone is trying to look a specific way we will all end up identical to each other. That is actually a scary thought.

Miss Korea contestants, who could probably pull off being sisters

On a last note, for a country that boasts about being multicultural (and that goes for a lot of other countries) there is still a lot more that has to be done in terms of acceptance. I find that it's hard for people to accept that I can simply just be Australian without people commenting on the fact that I look Asian though. I mean I still am Australian, I was born and raised here. Yes, I do have a different ethnicity but why I can't I answer that I am Australian and people just agree with that. Being Australian or American or European etc. doesn't mean people have to be "white" only.

I think that's a factor that really discourages people in taking pride in their culture. That somehow they appear inferior to the "white" race so the only way to change that is to look like them. I find that really sad because everyone should be accepted for who they are regardless of where they come from or what culture they belong to.

I know that there's a lot more that can be said about this topic but I'm beginning to lose my train of thoughts. I hope I've covered what is necessary or what I initially wanted to write about. To watch the entire documentary, click here - and please don't feel that you are not good enough because you are. Don't forget that. It takes a long time to truly appreciate yourself, even I'm still learning to do so. In the end though, it'll be worth it.

1 comment :

  1. […] 17-year-old girl who had fillers in her nose, eye lid surgery and a chin reduction procedure at the insistence of her Vietnamese parents. Kathy’s father gushed over her new look, describing it as a significant improvement on her […]