South Korea has the highest per capita rate of plastic surgery in the world
There’s a full-length mirror and a scale on every single floor of the all-girls high school where Julia Lurie works. She’s an American teaching English in South Korea, and apparently, South Korea has the highest per capita rate of plastic surgery in the world — one in five women in Seoul have undergone some kind of procedure. Most popular: Eyelid surgery, to make the eyes “more Western,” and getting your jawbone shaved or chiseled down for a less-square and more V-shaped look.
“When you are applying for university or appling for a job here, you put a picture of yourself on your resume or application,” Lurie says in a recent segment on This American Life (you can listen to here). “It is sort of taken for granted that how you look will often go into the decision.” She says she’s been told that if there are two otherwise equal candidates, the prettier person will get the job. Her students see this as normal — perhaps unsurprising when you consider the nation’s status as the country most obsessed with plastic surgery.
As an experiment, Lurie asked her students to describe a beautiful woman. “White skin,” they replied. “Big eyes.” Thin. Tall. B cup. Sounds like the same narrow standards of beauty fashion magazines and designers doing runway shows adhere to, standards that are eventually broadcast with images seen around the world.
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