There’s a television program called Let Me In (currently in its third season) on Korean cable that I’ve been watching recently. The premise of the show is, ‘ugly’ girls who have a story (bullied in school, beaten up, made fun of, husbands don’t want to have sex with them) come on this show and a panel of plastic surgeons pick one girl out of two and give her a plastic surgery makeover. It’s like magic, these women undergo a transformation from ugly duckling to swan.
Plastic surgery is so prevalent in Korea. I’d probably say that only a handful of my friends here are 100% au natural but honestly it’s not as drastic as the plastic surgery makeovers seen on the show. Over brunch there will always be chatter about the best fillers, treatments and minor tweaks that will help you become a better version of you. It’s not that I’m opposed to plastic surgery; I think sometime in the future I would probably want to get some stuff lifted here and there to fight gravity but for now I’m alright with my lopsided monolid eyes and oddly shaped ‘hershey kiss’ nose.
I think though, for these women, changing their faces and bodies give them a huge self esteem boost which a lot of them seem to need. If you’ve been bullied your whole life because of the way you look I can see why you’d want to do something extreme to change that, for yourself and for your ego.
There was one episode that I found especially heart breaking. It was the story of wives who had been rejected by their husbands merely based on physical appearance. One woman wasn’t curvy enough and her husband hadn’t had sex with her in eight years and the other one would verbally abuse her saying that she smelled bad and that she was ugly. Kind of made me lose my faith in men. All women deserve to be loved and cared for and the respective husbands rejected their wives based merely on the physical, cheating on them, ignoring them and making them feel like they weren’t good enough because they weren’t beautiful. That’s the weight beauty holds in Korean society I suppose. So sad.
I wonder though, if by literally change the structure of your face until you are an absolutely different person on the outside, you change for the better on the inside as well. Self esteem doesn’t appear instantly so I hope they’re undergoing some kind of therapy and emotional makeover for that too.