The pressure placed on women to look a certain way is well-documented. Hollywood films, European fashion magazines, slick music videos and a plethora of other sources promote a very specific ideal of beauty. In most cases, that ideal is overwhelmingly white.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Western influences are traversing race boundaries, causing a rise in “de-racialisation” surgery. Procedures such as double eye-lifts and calf reductions are being undertaken in great numbers by young Asian women, keen to rid themselves of what they see as the key physical features that demarcate their race. The emergence of this phenomenon has attracted considerable attention in the press in the past few months, having been documented most extensively on SBS documentary Change My Race last year.
The rise of these particular types of surgeries has been linked locally to the lack of ethnic diversity in Australian popular culture. Commercial television networks, in particular, have attracted criticism for the overwhelming predominance of Caucasian actors, newsreaders, and presenters. Even when things become more varied, tokenism can still be a problem. After years of whitewashing, Neighbours in 2011 introduced the Indian Kapoor family. This move, while heralded as overdue, resulted in cast members receiving a barrage of racist abuse, proving that our local media – and local audiences – still have a way to go.
Some would argue that the motivations behind de-racialisation are somewhat worrying. However, others believe that the end goals of self-confidence and improved self-image are similar to the objectives behind more ‘typical’ cosmetic surgery procedures. The stigma around cosmetic surgery has largely dissipated, thanks in great part to the safe, effective services offered by the likes of meclinic.com.
It’s important, though, to be sure that individuals understand that “beauty” isn’t entirely reliant on physical appearance, and that it is a concept that is multiple and varied. The benefits of services like liposuction in Australia are multiple and nuanced; to an extent, the procedures are about how the patient sees themselves, rather than how others see them. The advantages offered by cosmetic surgery are heightened when the procedure is undertaken for the right reasons – not because of external pressures.