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Taiwanese advertisements arises questions about plastic surgery: why and how?

When this picture was released in 2012, the hell broke loose for Heidi Yeh, the model portraying the mom.


It shows two seemingly very attractive parents having three less attractive children, pointing to the cosmetic surgery, often also referred to as plastic surgery, the ‘mother’ has done. This picture quickly went viral on the internet and was even turned into a meme with the text “plastic surgery, you can’t hide it forever”. It was shared and liked numerous times on media outlets such as Facebook, 9gag and Reddit, but even more serious outlets like BBC paid attention to it. Eventually it was exposed that it was all staged: the picture is part of an advertisement for a Taiwanese cosmetic clinic. The ‘mom’ appeared to be a Taiwanese model and the children were photo shopped. But unfortunately this exposing did not better the situation of Heidi Yeh because ever since the release of this advertisement she is having a hard time getting jobs as it ruined her image and thus no clients seem to take her serious anymore. “When I first heard about this from a friend, I thought it was just a one-off rumour, but then I realised the whole world was spreading it and in different languages.

‘People actually thought it was real. Even my then-boyfriend’s friends would ask about it”

she tells us in an interview with BBC. “The biggest loss for me is I don’t want to be a model anymore”

Now, November 2015 Yeh fights back by suing the advertising agency J Walter Thompson for 5 million NTD, which equals approximately 140 thousand euro, for compensation.
The fact that this advertisements arises many questions and discussions about itself is obvious, but why is such an advertisement for plastic surgery even produced in the first place? Why is it that in Asia plastic surgery becomes more and more a casualty? What are the reasons that the taboo has decreased significantly? What are the motives for Asian woman to consider plastic surgery? And what are the most common types of surgery done among those woman?

The amount of cosmetic surgeries done in countries in Asia such as Korea, China and Japan have risen extensively over the past years. Respectively 650 000, 1 050 000 and 950 000 surgeries has been done in these countries in 2012, which are quite impressive numbers. In many peoples opinion Asia has become the best place for plastic surgery, not only for locals but also for people from other parts of the world. But what are the motives of all those women to even consider and actually take plastic surgery? The three most common types of surgery’s done among Asian woman are blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), rhinoplasty (nose jobs) and breast augmentation. First of all eyelid surgery causes the change from a so called mono-lid, which people from Asian decent often have, to a double-lid which naturally belong to Western people. Seeing that in large parts of Asia western woman are considered as the beauty ideal, bigger eyes are a desire among Asian women. Also nose jobs to make the nose pointier and s2limmer and breast augmentation to larger the size live up to the western beauty ideal that preserved in Asia.

These 22 year old twins from the Chinese city Nanning show what plastic surgery can do to you. Both girls had their noses being reconstructed, did the double eyelid surgery and let their jaws look more v-lined, like many western woman have.


Other reasons for the increasing number of plastic surgeries are the K-pop stars that do it too.  An example is Kim Yoo Bi, a very w3ell-known and successful actress in South-Korea. In these before and after shots the results of an eyelid surgery, a nose job and jaw surgery become clearly visible.
K-pop, or Korean pop stars are similarly to western Hollywood stars, role models to many people. When your favourite singer or actor wears a certain brand, you want to wear that brand as well. Likewise in Korea, when your favourite singer does a nose job, you want that too, so to say.

Concerning the eyelid surgery, we can state that the taboo around it has nearly disappeared. In large parts of Asia it is so common that it is not even perceived as hard surgery anymore. In South Korea many students even get such a surgery as a graduation present. But it goes even further as having double eyelids is considered to be a ‘s4ocial status thing’, which results in parents insisting their daughter (or even sons) to take such a surgery because if they don’t, it means you cannot afford it.

Results of an eyelid surgery are clearly shown in the example above. The surgery has obviously changed the eyes of this Chinese student from Fuzhou.
One last point that should be mentioned is that even though in Asian cultures different (questionable) motives exist for doing plastic surgery, it does not mean it always goes as expected. It must be clearly stated that these surgeries do not go without any risks. Not to mention that not all plastic surgeons are as professional and trustworthy as they let themselves seem to be. There is more than enough evidence of cases in which a surgery has gone terribly wrong. So before you consider plastic surgery, always do your research

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