On the advice of an agent almost 20 years ago, aspiring news anchor Julie Chen had plastic surgery to make her eyes appear wider, and, thus, not as "Asian looking." Now a CBS anchorwoman and Big Brother Host, Julie shared her secret this week on The Talk, and her reveal has sparked a lot of commentary. But is it really anyone's business?
While Julie's cohosts were supportive, saying Julie looked beautiful both before AND after her surgery, others were not so positive:
"TY @JulieChen, you are a hero. Teaching all Asian girls: if a white man says you are too Asian, just become less Asian," read just one negative Tweet.
As a blond haired, blue eyed person of British and European descent, I know that it's impossible for me to truly understand what it's like to feel that my features are considered undesirable by the society in which I live. Yes, I might feel not pretty or skinny enough, but that's different. As a little girl, when I looked at magazines, or went to the movies, or watched TV, I saw mostly people who shared the same skin tone as me; who had the same Caucasian features, whether their eyes were blue, hazel, or brown. I can of course use my empathy and intelligence and imagine what it's like to be a minority, to feel my skin color or eye shape is less desirable, but that's really not the same thing.
So, I feel that I can in no way judge Julie Chen for the choice she made back in 1995. I can only wish that she hadn't felt that pressure, and hope that somehow our society has changed a bit in these two decades, enough that she wouldn't feel the need to make the same choice today.
But I know that's a pretty naive wish. The practice of double-eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty, is fairly common in the Asian community, in the U.S. and in other countries. It's heartbreaking to think that the young Asian girls I know might grow up thinking they need to change the shape of their beautiful eyes. But on the other hand, is changing your eye shape to look "more Western" just on the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to women conforming to perceived beauty standards? After all, there are things about the way I look that I'd change if I could wave a magic wand, and certain cosmetic procedures that I'm tempted by, especially as I get older -- from Botox to "fix" the wrinkles between my eyes, to a boob lift to "fix" the ravages wrought by time and having a baby.
The big difference of course, is that these things have to do with the process of aging, and not because I want to make myself look less "white." And that's a really big difference.
One thing seems certain: Julie herself seems to have no regrets: "I have to live with every decision that I've made, and it got me to where we are today. And I'm not going to look back."
Do you think Julie should have kept her secret?
Image via ajc.com/CBS