Sisterhood Blog

Regardless of Ethnicity, Women Still Chase Barbie Beauty

By Elissa Strauss

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In “Ethnic Differences Emerge in Plastic Surgery,” a New York Times story published last weekend, writer Sam Dolnick explains how different ethnic groups now tend be in pursuit of one particular type of procedure.

Dolnick writes: “As the demand for surgical enhancement explodes around the world, New York has developed a host of niche markets that allow the city’s many immigrants to get tucks and tweaks that are carefully tailored to their cultural preferences and ideals of beauty. Just as they can find Lebanese grape leaves or bowls of Vietnamese pho that taste of home, immigrants can locate surgeons able to recreate the cleavage of Thalía, the Mexican singer, or the bright eyes of Lee Hyori, the Korean pop star.”

He goes onto to explain that Dominicans want buttock lifts, Koreans want slimmer jaw lines, Iranians want smaller noses, Italians want slender knees, Russians want bigger breasts, and Chinese want double eyelids.

While I don’t doubt his reporting, I think he is missing the larger point about these procedures being particular to their “cultural preferences and ideals of beauty.”

Big eyes? Button nose? Ample bust? Thin legs? Perky tush? It sounds to me like at the end of the day everyone still wants to look like Barbie, and all that has happened is that they have identified their particular roadblocks to achieving that look.

I have written before on this blog about plastic surgery, and it’s not something to which I wholly object. As I said, I know a lot of good people who have had good plastic surgery, which then had positive effects on their lives. And they don’t look like one of Bravo’s “Housewives.” That said, stories like this remind me of how pervasive the Barbie beauty standard still is — so pervasive that it is overlooked by The New York Times.


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