Changing Face of Asia
August 13, 2003 11:09 AM   Subscribe

" I discovered that by severing a nerve behind the knee, the muscle would atrophy." Plastic surgery is booming in Asia, including some very painful procedures (such as the aforementioned trick to achieve "Western-style" legs.)
posted by Oriole Adams (25 comments total)
WTF? Trying to get bird legs? What the hell is wrong with our species?!?!?
posted by notsnot at 11:38 AM on August 13, 2003

Well, it's perfectly logical for Oriole's species.
posted by scody at 11:41 AM on August 13, 2003

The whole Asian beauty standard thing is incomprehensible to me. On the one hand, when I started dating my Chinese-American fiance, his friends were appalled. "She's so . . . tall. And BIG!" Yeah, I clock in at 5' 6", around 130 lbs. On the other hand, I've had a Thai friend compliment my legs, complaining about how he hated those "curved bowed Asian legs."
In any case, it's really depressing that so many women are willing to undergo truly painful surgeries to look more like anime or American caricatures.
posted by synapse at 11:53 AM on August 13, 2003

Don't the ladies know I love them all? Don't the men know I don't love in that same, special way, but they're still ok with me? Why can't people (especially the ladies) see this?
posted by Hildago at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2003

I wish there were more pictures -- I'm just not getting the difference in legs and others. Esp. since the opening picture of the women who had her eyes, chin and nose done, I can't see the difference (her eyes are actually bigger?? were they closed before?? maybe it's just a bad angle?)

I actually like muscular legs on women (maybe because mine have leaned that way, before the cushy covering that's appeared!). Whenever I see a woman who has no muscle in her legs, I assume she was never athletic growing up, and I think she looks funny. But that's me.

The bottom line is it's a shame we can't accept ourselves, and others, for who we/they are. In the end, it really doesn't matter if you have features that don't attract tons of men (and vice-versa). As long as you attract the right one, preferably with your self and not your body, life will be good. But not everyone groks that, unfortunately.
posted by evening at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2003

Hell, I got the "curved bowed legs" and I'm not even Asian. I hear there's an operation, and the more my knees point east and west and my arches collapse, the more I'm tempted.

Once again I'm amazed how prescient William Gibson was/is.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:39 PM on August 13, 2003

Every culture has its unhealthy, painful ways of changing the appearance. The corset, foot binding, neck rings, earlobe stretching, tattoos, the lead-containing white facial makeup Queen Elizabeth I used that ate into her face... all in the name of achieving some unrealistic ideal.

Seems to be an unavoidable human urge to want to grasp after self-improvement, even if you're the only one who thinks of the change as an improvement.

Evening, I think self-acceptance and realistic goals are really only something that can be arrived at individually. No society ever will, though some are better at it than others - usually the ones that have to give a lot more energy to the business of survival than we do.
posted by orange swan at 12:50 PM on August 13, 2003

I can understand how people can find themselves wanting a slightly different face, a skinnier body or what not... but hymen replacement? something is really, REALLY wrong when you can't tell the person that you're going to spend the rest of your life with that you're not a virgin.
posted by mosch at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2003

"Finally, I discovered that by severing a nerve behind the knee, the muscle would atrophy," says Suh, "thereby reducing its size up to 40%." Suh has performed over 600 of the operations since 1996. He disappears for a minute and returns with a bottle of fluid containing what looks like chopped up bits of ramen noodles. He has preserved his patients' excised nerves in alcohol. "And that's just since November," he says proudly.

I may never be able to eat Top Ramen again.

and Mosch: many virgins don't have hymens — over time, normal activities like bicycling, horseback riding, and gymnastics can stretch it away.
posted by arielmeadow at 1:38 PM on August 13, 2003

I once saw a special where doctors used an extremely painful technique to make people taller.

Basically, the doctors break both your legs, then screw a couple of braces into the bone so they can adjust the distance between the break, lengthening it every few weeks. You hobble your crippled ass around on these things for months, sometimes years, for a couple of inches. And it's an incredibly painful procedure and recovery.

Normally the treatment is for midgets, not for 5'7" guys who really, really want to be 6' so they can get the cheerleader.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:20 PM on August 13, 2003

Here's a link to a Ukrainian doctor who does the leg-legthening procedure. It's interesting to note that the two testimonials on his site are from normal-heighted (slightly short) middle-aged men.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:36 PM on August 13, 2003

The movie Gattaca features the procedure Civil_Disobedient is talking about. And I read in the NYT about a year ago it's getting popular in China, where things like the joining army and being a flight attendant have a height requirement.
posted by Utilitaritron at 3:44 PM on August 13, 2003

This bit disturbed me:

....and even tots have their eyelids done.

I really hope that is journalistic hyperbole, but I fear that it isn't.
posted by kayjay at 5:06 PM on August 13, 2003

I actually like muscular legs on women

is that really unusual? I mean I understand not liking body-builder's physiques, but that goes for men too... I thought regular musculature would generally be a plus for either sex. I guess I'd like to see pictures too...
posted by mdn at 6:16 PM on August 13, 2003

Tall is wonderful, short is okay. Toned is ideal, curvy is just fine. Fit is sexy, whatever the shape and size of the package. Take whatever the genetic lottery gave you and maximize it; don't waste time trying to transform into something you aren't (at least until better techniques come along that allow us all to design our ideal cyborg bodies). Character supercedes appearance.

I have spoken.
posted by rushmc at 7:33 PM on August 13, 2003

Take whatever the genetic lottery gave you and maximize it; don't waste time trying to transform into something you aren't

So people shouldn't comb their hair? Wear jewelry? Work-out? What is it exactly that you are? Or is that a fairly ambiguous concept? Why just maximize what the "genetic lottery" gave you, when you can maximize in non-genetic ways too? Seems like the familiar, its-"natural"-so-it-must-be-better fallacy (like you find in the 'I only use herbal remedies' crowd).
posted by dgaicun at 12:58 AM on August 14, 2003

Here in Korea there was recently a craze for parents to have a bit of the flesh under their toddlers' tongues snipped away, thus 'lengthening' the tongue.

Why? Because for some unknow asinine fucking reason, it was going around as yet another piece of uncontested, received wisdom that all 'western people' had longer tongues than Koreans, and Korean children would be unable to pronounce English perfectly without great flapping snaketongues.

I'm serious.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:38 AM on August 14, 2003

When I lived in Thailand, I estimate 50% of the women I knew had had some ridiculous operation; eyes widened, nose mucked up, boobs enlarged.. something.

It's also common practice in Asia to deliver babies by C-section; one of the reasons (not the only reason) is that delivering a baby vaginally makes the vagina wider and "ugly".

The fake hymen thing - in Bangkok there's lots of places for women to get their nipples tatooed; apparently, breast feeding makes nipples darker, so hostesses or wives worried that husbands will take a second wife get their nipples and aureoles tatooed a different colour

God that must hurt.
posted by Pericles at 4:57 AM on August 14, 2003

rushmc - Nicely said.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:21 AM on August 14, 2003

dgaicun - it's not that natural is always better, it's when you go to such extremes to change things about yourself that you think other people will like more. wearing accessories and working out are, in my opinion, exactly what rushmc is talking about -- they are maximizing what you have. but when you start changing your eyelids and making sure certain muscles will atrophy just because of looks, I think there's a problem. this doesn't mean I don't think plastic surgery has a place in society because I do. it's a fine line, and, frankly, it comes down to opinion.

I just wish that as a people we weren't like this as I think it puts a lot of problems/pressure on people psychologically. Life is complicated enough as it is without putting pressure on yourself to look like someone else.
posted by evening at 6:29 AM on August 14, 2003

It is a really fine line between reasonable self-improvement and unreasonable self-improvement. I got braces at the age of 24 - it was expensive, painful and a hassle. Around that time a friend of mine wanted to get a breast enlargement. It was her business so I never said that I thought it was a terrible decision, but I also spent some time wondering if there was really that much difference between braces and boob jobs. You can argue that there are long-term negative effects from having breast enlargements done while there aren't from braces, but that's the only really convincing argument I could think of.
posted by orange swan at 7:44 AM on August 14, 2003

So I'm wondering -
if the operation in the FPP makes one of the calf muscles die (I assume gastrocnemius or soleus) would that make a person more susceptible to ankle sprains?
posted by notsnot at 8:02 AM on August 14, 2003

would that make a person more susceptible to ankle sprains?
Possibly, but probably not much. "Atrophy" in this case is mostly medical jargon -- the muscle doesn't go away altogether, it just becomes smaller. (Of course there's always the possibility of something going horribly awry...) Tendon strength has more to do with whether you sprain your ankle more than muscle strength -- when you roll your ankle, you tear ligaments, which are then weaker and more susceptible to future sprains. There are millions of people with small calf muscles that have no problems at all walking.

I wish there were more pictures
There are: midway down the left column, there's a link to a pop-up of four before/after "case files."

Also, what rushmc said.
posted by me3dia at 8:35 AM on August 14, 2003

me3dia: thanks, totally missed that.

it looks like Saori's looks are differed by makeup as much as, if not more than, the plastic surgery. Notice the hair and complexion difference -- wonder what she would have looked like before the surgery with that much surface change.
posted by evening at 10:08 AM on August 14, 2003

that's the only really convincing argument I could think of

Pretty darned convincing one, if you ask me. Some very not pretty pictures, if you need more reasons to avoid boob jobs (nsfw or people with queasy stomachs).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2003

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