In world news this week, several stories have come out with alarming information about plastic surgery trends in South Korea. Statistics show that the rate of plastic surgery in South Korea is extremely high (as compared with other countries), and recent reports state that increasingly more Korean teenagers and young people are buying in to the trend. The part of the reports that is most alarming is the fact that young people who cannot afford plastic surgery are resorting to “do it yourself” cosmetic procedures.
Thankfully, there have not been reports of actual attempts at surgery, but apparently some young Koreans are purchasing devices online that claim to widen eyes, narrow jaws, and make noses more “pointy.” These gadgets sound like medieval torture devices, and are allegedly extremely painful to use and wear. This begs the obvious question of why young Koreans feel the need to alter themselves so much that they would resort to these extreme measures.
The main factors behind this movement of “DIY” cosmetic procedures are cultural standards of beauty in South Korea, with younger generations feeling pressured to keep up. Many “K Pop,” or Korean pop artists, publicly announce the surgery and procedures they have had, which is being noticed by their adoring fans, and is ultimately influencing popular opinion of what is considered beautiful. For easily influenced, school aged young people, what they see their idols doing to stay beautiful is huge. Also, as stated earlier, a high percentage of people in South Korea have undergone plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, so the trend is not only with celebrities. Reports are claiming that the primary reason young people are buying online beauty devices is because they do not have the economic means to afford plastic surgery, and these “instruments” present an alternative. Supposedly, even elementary school children have been seen wearing the gadgets to school.
Physicians in the country are concerned about these “DIY” tools for several reasons. First, they worry about the damage the devices could inflict on young people who are still growing. It has been reported that the tools frequently cause pain, bruising, and other side effects. To stop the behavior, several different measures could be taken, but it will ultimately require changing the accepted standards of beauty, and becoming more accepting of natural beauty, to truly create significant and lasting change. While it’s a good thought, it may not be entirely feasible in the near future, and in the meantime, hopefully no one will suffer injuries from online “DIY” beauty tools.
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