Chris Stokel-Walker introduces us to Leo Jiang, who used to be Hao Jiang and is one of the thousands of people each year who get plastic surgery in order to look less Asian and more Western. Or not.
"Race does not enter the consciousness [in Asia] in the same way it does here," explains Sharon Lee, an assistant professor at New York University who has written extensively about plastic surgery in Asia. "It's easy to pathologize a whole country of people." The West's preoccupation with race colors its opinion, projecting discomfort onto surgery that for many may not have any overt racial elements. "This notion that Korean women want to become white becomes a really easy answer," Lee says. "That's not to say that race isn't important, but when we stop there we're overlooking much larger structural and historical phenomenons. No Korean woman says, 'I want to look white.'"
In Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace wrote that videophone technology wasn't popular due in part to vanity.
And the videophonic stress was even worse if you were at all vain. I.e. if you worried at all about how you looked. As in to other people. Which all kidding aside who doesn't. Good old aural telephone calls could be fielded without makeup, toupee, surgical prostheses, etc. Even without clothes, if that sort of thing rattled your saber. But for the image-conscious, there was of course no answer-as-you-are informality about visual-video telephone calls, which consumers began to see were less like having the good old phone ring than having the doorbell ring and having to throw on clothes and attach prostheses and do hair-checks in the foyer mirror before answering the door.
Now DC-area plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Sigal is offering what he calls the "FaceTime Facelift".
"Patients come in with their iPhones and show me how they look on [Apple's video calling application] FaceTime," says Dr. Sigal. "The angle at which the phone is held, with the caller looking downward into the camera, really captures any heaviness, fullness and sagging of the face and neck. People say 'I never knew I looked like that! I need to do something!' I've started calling it the 'FaceTime Facelift' effect. And we've developed procedures to specifically address it."