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[Opinion] Plastic Surgery

Posted February. 28, 2005 22:46,   


“I can feel myself growing old. My face is like crinkled paper. I’m losing confidence in myself.” This is not the complaint of Korean ordinary housewives. The words are from a middle-aged man in his 40s after his experience with plastic surgery, as broadcast on the web version of BBC News. After changing his overall image by getting rid of his wrinkles and lifting his drooping eyelids, the man rejoiced in his newfound appearance of youth. Even in conservative Britain, half of all Botox operations and plastic surgery patients consist of the middle aged. Such “rejuvenation projects” seem to be a worldwide trend.

People who criticize women that undergo plastic surgery for lapping up to the evils of appearance are surprisingly reserved in their criticism for older men. Simon Withey, from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, states that this is due to “intense social pressure to look young.” Competition is intense, your job is being threatened by that next smart young man or women in line, and the extended average life span compels these men to concoct a survival strategy. Modern medicine, developing by leaps and bounds, and the elixir-seeking man were doomed to meet at some point.

There is no rivalry like that found in politics. Bear a pretty face and you will usually stand to gain some points, but things can get a little more complicated for politicians that have been under the knife. Examples may be found in Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who recently removed the wrinkles around his eyes, and the recent American presidential candidate John Kerry, suspected of having had Botex injections. Besides the stereotype that natural is good, plastic surgery can bring on responses such as doubts in self-confidence, compelling the politician in question to hide the wisdom that one bears with age.

A renowned hospital in the Ukraine recently offered to operate on President Viktor Yushchenko, whose face had been mangled by poisoning due to political rivalry. That would be good news if the citizens applaud the move. President Roh Moo-hyun, who recently underwent double-eyelid plastic surgery, is also expected to view national issues with his new, “bigger” eyes. First Lady Kwon Yang-suk also underwent the same operation; hence the more the better. It’s strange, though, what exactly they were wary of as they chose to postpone revealing these facts to the public.

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial writer, yuri@donga.com