Asian Diaspora

Plastic Surgery = Racial Transformation. What?!

I came across an article on BuzzFeed with the heading “When Does Plastic Surgery Become Racial Transformation?” You can read it:

The sub title reads “Leo Jiang grew up in an English industrial town, emotionally scarred by bullies who taunted him about being Chinese. A few years and tens of thousands of dollars later, he’s not really Chinese anymore.”

I have a problem with this.

Actually, I have mixed feelings, but the sub heading is awful. How does one become “not Chinese”, merely by looks? Simply from a higher nose bridge and an all too obvious double eyelid created by surgical knives, one loses the race their DNA programs them to be?

In short, the article profiles a Chinese immigrant in the UK who has gotten a plethora of procedures done because he felt that he was bullied as a child because of his race.

I wish he hadn’t been bullied and I wish he’d stop hating his appearance.

There was a period growing up, I felt like I didn’t want to be Chinese either. I didn’t like the way dim sum houses were always so loud and eating with a fork and knife was just more sophisticated than two wooden sticks. (I think I was too preoccupied with The Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls at that time. And watching “Breaker High” and “Sweet Valley high”, thinking that was what high school would be like.)

Very quickly though, I started appreciating my race and my ethnicity — my upbringing as a third culture kid and an eggnana. I love it. I revel in it.

Perhaps I am very lucky, in that I’ve never experienced direct racism at any point of my life nor have I been bullied. The only time I remember getting angry was when our high school basketball team played a tournament up north and we were blatantly told to “go back to our own country”. Our awesome multicultural team walked passed those hurtful words with poise and our token greek girl faked a punch at them before we all just laughed it off. (York Region Girls Basketball Champs 2004, holla.)

Two of my best friends have had double eye lid surgery. (That’s like a 1/3, making it sound fairly common.) Coming out of it, they’ve both been happier, with more confidence. I don’t have a problem with plastic surgery because if it makes you happy, then go for it. But I have a problem with those that want to eradicate their ethnicity through their exterior appearance.

I was born with the coveted double eye lid and was accused of wearing brown eyeshadow in grade 8 by my then BFF. (Thanks for the strong genes, Ma & Pa!) But of course I have flaws I’m aware of and have disliked.

When I wear glasses, they require constant attention because my nose bridge doesn’t exist, making my glasses slide down like an old lady with reading glasses. And I might be related to Jackie Chan because of my huge nose, which in Chinese they call “garlic bulb”. I also have moles on my face that can be a map of the milky way.

But this is me. And this is who I am. I embrace it fully because everyone needs to respect themselves before anyone can respect you. As an adult, I can say even in my least confidence days in such a hyper critical society, I don’t want to change a single thing about what I was born with.

Honour yourself. Honour the genes you were given by your parents – the fact that you look a little like mum and a little like dad. Or that when you smile, you are your Grandma’s twin.

I have my Dad’s eyes and dimples, my Grandma’s nose and my Mother&Co.’s lips.

& I love it.

Garlic Bulb, out.

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