By Joo Heon Kim
Last week, one of my American friends asked me why plastic surgery was so popular in South Korea. She even complained that some Koreans were making fun of her because she was fat when she was studying abroad in Korea last semester. She said she didn’t like the Korean culture since it makes people care too much about how others think of them.
Although I felt sorry that she was mocked by Koreans because of her appearance, I don’t think plastic surgery is bad. I honestly believe Koreans are smarter about plastic surgery than Americans.
I always felt I was out of place when I met Americans who were very confident about themselves without considering how others think of them. When I was living in a dorm last year, I thought my American roommates were too oblivious and unrealistic when they were going to a party without styling themselves at all.
It seems like many Americans think plastic surgery is something that they should be ashamed of. Many of them seem to think even though they had plastic surgery, they should try to hide it because it means they’re weak and aren’t confident about themselves.
However, I think they should be open about plastic surgery and open about the fact they got plastic surgery.
In America, it’s considered bad if you care about the way others see you. It means you’re weak because you’re letting other people’s decisions affect your life. If people say you’re ugly or stupid, you’re supposed to ignore them since living a good life is not caring what everyone else thinks.
I once admired this idea because I was sort of fed up with the Korean culture that made me care too much about others and I just wanted to be independent. However, I just realized again that it’s impossible to live without thinking about others because I’m not the only one living in this world.
The problem is humans care what others think about them. Since it is a part of human nature, it is impossible to not care when others talk about you even though you were educated to not care about how they look at you.
This is why I think Koreans are more realistic than Americans when it comes to plastic surgery. If you want to attract someone, you need to look attractive. One of my roommates told me Korean guys seem to be feminine because they are too obsessed with their image. He said guys don’t have to always style themselves because that doesn’t look masculine. But then he started to ask me what kind of outfits he should wear after he started to date a girl. This shows that it is deep in his soul to care how others think of him.
Whenever my American friends were being judgmental about Koreans because of its high plastic surgery rate, I always wanted to tell them plastic surgery could be an option if you want to look more attractive.
Jule Chen, a popular anchor from The Talk said she had to get plastic surgery since she could not become an anchor with her squinty eyes. Although she was talented in public speaking, her news director told her she could never be on the anchor desk because her eyes made her look bored and disinterested. However, plastic surgery changed her life. She became the long- serving host of the Big Brother franchise after the surgery.
Julie Chen’s dream came true after she had plastic surgery. If plastic surgery can help you live a better life, you shouldn’t hesitate to have it just as she did. For me, it seems like the American culture is telling people to not have plastic surgery even though it can make them happier just because it means they’re weak. I hope Americans to not care too much about the way they feel because of the culture that judges them.
(About the author: Joo Heon Kim is an international student from South Korea studying journalism and is in his fourth year at the University of Iowa.)
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