The global makeover
In recent years Western notions of beauty have been sweeping aside classical ones,from China and India to Korea and Japan.The classical Zaftig Indian goddesses and the heart-shaped face of the Chinese beauty are yielding to round eyes,oblong faces and lean figures.The signs can be seen n the faces of the stars of the big screen and the glossy magazines,many of whom take on a kind of amalgamated look of East and West.”It’s going both ways”,says Nancy,”but there’s still a huge influence from the western standard”
The current trend is in many ways an extension of the longstanding influence of Western image in movies and television,accelerated in recent years by the addition of satellite television and Internet .But the proliferation of cosmetic surgery has given this trend a new twist.Techniques and technologies of plastic surgery are more widely available than ever before .As prices keep coming down,more and more women and men are electing to go under the knife in pursuit of an emerging global standard of beauty .What started years ago in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs,California,has spread to Seoul ,Beijing,Tokyo and Mumbai,not to mention thousands of smaller places in between.It’s not just the wealthy and the famous any more who are free to warming to the idea of augmenting the breasts,hips and buttocks or shaving a few millimeters off the cheekbones.
All this tinkering with facial and body types may be changing the way our brains perceive beauty.For millions of years our sense of beauty served an evolutionary function:it helped us choose the best mate-the wide-hipped woman best suited to bearing children,or the broad-shoulder hunk of a man who could protect and provide.But a good portion of what we think of as beautiful is merely our brain’s average of all the faces we’ve been exposed to.Back in the days when we expressed out beauty preference in our choice of mates,the course of human beauty was determined by natural selection.
For many years Asian women water fair skin,a small pouty mouth,a straight nose,very shiny black long hair and an oval ,melon-seed-shaped face,Nowadays,some Asian women want their faces lengthened and their cheeks made more angular.In China,Evercare performs about a half-dozen operations a day,seven days a week,while elsewhere doctors work in hospitals,clinics and even beauty salons.Although the Chinese government doesn’t keep official statistics ,the number of cosmetic operations performed in the past several years is probably in the millions.The practice had become so widespread that last year the government issued regulations to control the industry for the first time.In South Korea,business has been even more brisk.Although official figures aren’t available ,Korea has more 1200 plastic surgeons,the highest per capita in the world.who perform roughly half a million procedures a year.
In fact,the cosmetic industry is booming worldwide-including makeup,plastic surgery and spa treatments.Cosmetic procedures from Botox to breast-lift ,are safer,readily available and easier to access that ever before.Sales revenues of Allergan’s cosmetic pharmaceuticals-the company that makes Botox,the wrinkle-smoothing drug-reached close to half a billion dollars,of which 30 percent came from outside the United States.Cosmetic procedures in the United States jumped to 6.9 million last year,up 226 percent from 1997;the jumps in Europe and Asia have followed suit.
Fueling the democratization of cosmetic surgery is a steady stream of new technologies-implants,Botox and laser treatments-that have come out of the lab in recent years.Dr.Stephen insists that ideal beauty can be reduced to a facial geometry based on the Golden Ration-the recurring
Measurement in nature of 1.3 to 1 that shows up on everything from snail shells to tree leaves.”People tried to understand a beautiful face,but what the hell is it?””It’s an image that is mathematically quantifiable .All life is biology,all biology is chemistry and all chemistry is mathematics” He’s invented technology for digitally scanning a client’s face and then morphing it on a computer to conform to his mathematical standard,which surgeons can then use as a guide.
Despite the progress,cosmetic surgery is still a tricky business,especially when it comes to Asian women.Because the Asian face is vertical and smooth,without all the contours of Western faces,a slip of the surgeon’s hand is readily apparent.Moreover,standards are often poor .In China,many illegitimate practitioners offer procedures for less than $100,turning out almost as many beasts as beauties.In the past decade more than 200 lawsuits have been field by patients who claim they’ve been victims of botched procedures,who had had to repair damage done by these so-called doctors.Another disturbing trend is that procedures are being marketed at young people-the ones most insecure about their looks.In Korea,plastic surgery is common among youth.on the streets of Seoul these days,we see so many same-looking standardized young people produced by the same surgery.Plastic surgery deprives Korean youth of their individual characteristics.
In many ways,the western fixation on looks is being exported eastward.There’s been an estheticization of the whole culture.Everything has become an esthetic choice.The trend is bolstered by studies showing that good-looking people are more successful in getting jobs and higher grades in school and making friends.It’s changed her life:friends gave her compliments,her boss praised her for her positive attitude and she had better luck on date.They used to say I was just cute but now they say I am pretty.
Although the global tendency is toward homogenization,there are some countervailing trends.L’oreal ,the industry leader in cosmetics,now operates 12 research centers around globe to understand how the company can fine-tune its products to the unique needs of different cultures.In September,L’oreal opened up the Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research in Chicago,devoted to African-Amercian beauty,and the company has also done similar work in China.We’re fighting against in ideal beauty.some experts say that greater travel and cultural exchange among Asian countries is creating more of a Pan-Asian standard of beauty than a Western one.
Some scientists think that beauty has always been standard.They have a point.Part of our perception of beauty has been programmed by evolution to ensure that we choose the best mates,and so hasn’t changed much since we were hunter-gathers.But that’s only part of the beauty formula.Nature also gave us the ability to adapt to changing circumstances-in a sense,to love the ones you’re with,even if it means learning to like the look of silicone-augmented buttocks and Botox-smoothed skin.
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