Plastic surgery and Racial Transformation


Racial transformation can be defined as a process where an individual is able to change his or her appearance in respect to race. This is done in two ways, that is one can change from his or her own race and change to another, or to a different category altogether. The changes are performed through use of chemicals or even surgery. The process of racial transformation is just like passing. It however requires a specialist to do medical procedures instead of lying about the physical disguise or race.  It involves medical and surgical procedures and even attempts to be permanent.

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In other cases, the procedures of plastic surgery like the Asian blepharoplasty which involves a process made to create a crease on the upper eyelid to people of East Asia. Rhinoplasty is also done to change the ethnic nose appearance. This is also viewed as racial context. Lip implants and lip collagen or what is referred to as lip augmentation is a common surgical procedure for the white women. The procedure involves enlarging the lips of the patient to a big size. This changes the lips of the individual from Caucasian to become an African American (Chris, p1).  These and other cases are examples of the plastic surgeries done by individuals to change them from their race to another. The paper aims at discussing when plastic surgery is said to be racial transformation. The paper makes use of Leo Jiang who performed the plastic surgery to change from one race to anther.

A story is told of Leo Jiang who was always quiet and reserved in school. He was just a normal person with black hair, brown and small eyes and of average height. He however travelled to Amsterdam for nine days without even informing his friends. When he came back, they noted that he had changed quite a lot. The eyes had become fuller, a straight and taller nose, strong jaws among other features (Chris, p1).

Jiang was born and brought up in Shandong Province in China where he was brought up by grand parents. He was called Hao, which was the first name. He went to join the parents in UK a place called Sunderland in England. Here, very few people, less than one percent was Asian. When he went to school, the situation was terrible. They were only three Asians in the class. This made them be barraged by the other students’ or rather racist taunts. He tried to do the same but it was not working.

This made him think of his otherness even more. He was very much uncomfortable with his skin. He could barely attend classes and this made him stark drinking and smoking, playing games an sometimes could pretend to be the legal guardian whenever the school asked for him. This made him look for a lawyer and request him to draft a letter where the parents could sign so that he could change his name. He was able to change the name and was called Leo(Chris, p1). This looked more Western and would make people to at least stop swinging at him. He however had not reached the goal of becoming this person. He went on and researched on the methods he could use and change appearance.  This is when he realized the plastic surgery that is preferred by the Asian society. He was able to compare himself with over 700,000 people in the world who wish they had epicanthoplasties and blespharoplasties every year.  These people would want to do this and especially the Asians with the aim of being happy and feeling comfortable (Jablonski, 352).   They use a lot of money to do this and feel less sad about it. This made him look for plastic surgeons and paid visits to several of them in six countries of two continents for consultations.  He started saving money, borrowed from parents and also sold several items to obtain the required amount for the whole process.

The cosmetic surgery helps individuals to acquire equality. There is nothing one can do to become white.  This has made the aesthetic surgeons to have very sensitive issues while including the necessary procedures for the surgery in adolescents (Schuller, p87).  When performing the plastic surgery to transform the nose, lips and eyelids racial characteristics has a wide social ramification due to the social meaning of the term race plus the painful heritage found in racial discrimination.

Plastic surgery is able to transform people from one race to another. The urge to have our face look like those people with a high status in life is of great popularity. In the previous decades, there were privileged images that had widely circulated such as the stamps, images, printed photographs and coins. These were able to offer a chance for people to imitate others whom they have never seen. Nowadays, the famous and attractive images of people are captured electronically all round the globe through the media, social media, advertisements and even on cell phones. This ever-growing and dynamic reservoir on visual images affect the way human beings translate the perceptions they have into judgment.  This later makes people to come up with personal appearance. The considerations influence appropriateness of the plastic surgery and the steps to transform the characteristic in race. This is because human beings are suggestible. People who are sensitive in status and peer pressure are very much likely to be involved in imitating to appearance of another individual with much success or popularity.

Human beings are very much observant, visually oriented and imitative. They therefore tend to be culturally modified. They tend to be obsessed with how other people look or appear. This makes them decide what to do as they seek to look better. Jiang had looked at other people in school and realized he was different. He therefore decided to work hard and save money to become what he wanted. Social factors are also part of the changing process (Jablonski, p 352).  . Peer influence in its manifestations is able to affect the attractiveness assessment due to the social evaluation awareness together with the social rejection fear especially in the minds of adolescents such as Jiang. This makes us be very much conscious on the matters of social position and therefore seek to always emulate those individuals whom our minds perceive to be of high status. The social anxiety on peer evaluation may continue even in adulthood where propensities to be in a position of imitating others is very much pronounced in ladies as compared to the women.

Some of the racial features in size and also shape are very much associated with inferiority or social superiority. The promotion of the American ideal when it comes to beauty is not a new concept. People are very much affected by the so called social history (Phinney,p138). On top of this, the ethnic norms in appearance are very much influenced by the Western culture. Even as most people would not want to totally do away with ethnic identities by performing the surgery, most of them have the aim of just a little ethnic appearance. For instance, the Asians and African –Americans always aspire to be like the people with a lot of European admixtures. This is just because this type of appearance is placed in a high status. They therefore will undergo plastic surgery to have a light skin, thin lips and narrow shades.  When it comes to the East Asians, the increased appeal for the large eyes plus the reduced eye folds has followed an cultural contact that is extensive with North America (Jablonski, p353).  The ethnic norms in beauty as well as attractiveness in the whole world have become very much transformed in the Western culture.

The plastic surgery is a transformation of the facial features that are ancestry related. It extends potentiality of the voluntary alterations to the personal phenotype of the patient which is beyond the modifications of hair morphology and skin pigmentation. This surgery is a social phenomenon that is of great concern when it comes to ultimate motivation. This makes the features of the face appear more just like the ones that are thought like they are socially superior (Endmonds, p368). This is based on the discrimination history.   The plastic surgical modifications especially in the face have become very popular and especially with the Asian people. The pools of the suggestible patients are becoming expanded as a result of having contacts with various people who have undergone this surgery with the aim of reducing the ethnic features.  It is worth to note that no comparable people requiring the surgery to obtain the ethnic features which is based on ethnic pride influence.

It is not possible to make people stop the urge of changing the way they look and correct the way they perceive the deficiencies in the way they appear. It is however possible to recognize the deficiencies that are perceived to be rooted in the past social justices. It is however necessary to take care when doing the plastic surgery (Ackerman,p 404).  The surgeon’s knife may be able to relieve the current personal anxiety that is felt by those people who are insecure, underpowered and self conscious. It however reinforces the sinister in social hierarchies. To be able to understand the background of motivation of the patient to change the appearance needs a lot of appreciation when it comes to the delicate interplay in cultural, historical factors, evolutionary and psychological factors.

The paper has greatly looked at the way plastic surgery can be used in racial transformation. Individuals will always tend to admire those people with high social class or are popular. This makes them feel the urge to undergo the process and be like them. The facial outlook makes them resemble those that are admirable and this satisfies them emotionally. However, some people do not want to change completely to another culture and therefore they will keep on visiting their ethnic communities or home country to maintain their culture.




Work cited

Ackerman, Sara L. “Plastic paradise: Transforming bodies and selves in Costa Rica’s cosmetic       surgery tourism industry.” Medical Anthropology 29.4 (2010): 403-423.

Chris Walker, S, “When Does Plastic Surgery become Racial Transformation.” Buzzfeed    BuzzReads. (2003): 1

Edmonds, Alexander. “‘The poor have the right to be beautiful’: cosmetic surgery in neoliberal     Brazil.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13.2 (2007): 363-381

Jablonski, Nina G. “Transforming “Racial Characteristics” Is It an Appropriate Role for     Aesthetic Surgery?.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal 31.3 (2011): 352-353.

Phinney, Jean S., et al. “The role of language, parents, and peers in ethnic identity among adolescents in immigrant families.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 30.2 (2001): 135-         153.

Schuller, Kyla. “Facial Uplift: Plastic Surgery, Cosmetics and the Retailing of Whiteness in the     Work of María Cristina Mena.” Journal of Modern Literature 32.4 (2009): 82-104.

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