Korea: Plastic Surgery Capital of the World
When we first moved to Korea and were living in Gangnam (yes, as in “Gangnam Style”), we couldn’t help but notice all of the advertisements for plastic surgery. Everywhere. Billboards with before and after photos. Brightly lit clinics. Posters peppering subway stations and subway cars. I even saw a poster with grotesque Disney princesses (what they would look like without surgery)! Every other commercial on the little television monitors (that are found on platforms and inside subway cars) was for liposuction (the other half of the commercials were for Kakao – Korea’s chat app – games).
One commercial in particular (a cute piece of “fat” that clings to a very thin girl) stood out then, and stands out now. In the commercial, this “fat” refuses to leave the girl’s arm/leg/thigh, even though the girl exercises, almost to the point of exhaustion. Finally, the girl goes into 365MC Clinic, and has the “fat” sucked away. She’s much happier afterwards.
In the summer of 2013 (pre-baby), Alex and I watched the ad in confusion. The “fat blob” was kind of cute. The girl was already thin. Why didn’t 365MC cast a girl who might actually want liposuction? Now, watching the same ad (post-baby), we feel sad. The “fat blob” looks like a cute baby. And actually, it bears quite a resemblance to Baby M. (Yes, we know, babies are meant to be fat. Baby M isn’t that fat, etc. etc. etc. But, that’s not the point.) The point is: 1). Korea (Asia for that matter) makes everything cute, even fat blobs. 2). Plastic surgery is widely accepted (I read that one in five Korean women have undergone some type of surgery, usually double eyelid surgery – blepharoplasty… it’s a very popular graduation present from parents to their daughters! 3). Ads for plastic surgery are ubiquitous, especially in “posh” areas like Gangnam. 4). After becoming parents, Alex and I have changed. We seem to be “baby crazy” – even for cartoon fat blobs that resemble babies!
Walking around the trendy neighborhoods of Gangnam, Apgujeong, and Sinsa, you’ll see streets lined with plastic surgery clinics. Most of the lobbies have floor to ceiling windows, and you can watch as people walk in (for surgery and consultations), and walk out (with faces bandaged). Surgery does not seem to be a big deal: it’s widely accepted and no one (except tourists and foreigners living in Seoul!) bats an eye (whether it has gone under the knife or not!). I’ve seen girls shopping in stores and eating in restaurants, bandages and all! Once, I was washing my hands in a mall restroom and saw (in the mirror’s reflection) a girl with what looked like pretty, brown freckles. I was surprised by her freckles (most Asian people don’t have freckles). As we walked out together, I saw what the freckles actually were — dotted lines, from a brown marker, outlining what she was going to have done to her face!
And, while on the topic of double eyelid surgery, beauty shops sell stickers for people who want the look of a double eyelid, but without the permanency and pain (you can apply to your single lid, creating a crease). I played a joke on Alex and applied one to each eye, right before he came home from a week long business trip. Apparently, my double eyelids looked pretty convincing, because he freaked out. “What? They were having a sale. Buy one get one free!” I quipped. He did not find it amusing!
Anyway, check out this ad featuring the fat blob (this is one of many): Fat Blob Baby. Isn’t it cute?!
Check out 365MC’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/365mc.clinic