Is Getting Plastic Surgery to Disguise One’s Ethnicity Really a Thing in 2016?
Many years ago when my maternal grandmother arrived in the United States from Israel, I imagine she experienced a myriad of issues acclimating to her new surroundings and immersing herself in a culture that was quite literally a world apart from her own. I imagine this to be true due to the persistent stories handed down in our family like great folklore; about her longing from the time she was little to transform her Semitic features. And, once she was old enough, my grandmother did undergo a rhinoplasty to correct her ethnic nose into a more aesthetically pleasing Romanesque one. Had she arrived in NYC in the year 2016, I think her belief that she needed to change who was intrinsically, (a dark-skinned Jewish girl into a white Anglo-Saxon girl) might not have been as strong and deeply rooted. Society’s ideals of beauty have come a long way from the notion that ethnic features are not as coveted or as worthy as those possessed by Caucasians.
And yet, as her granddaughter who has most definitely inherited her very Semitic profile, I can’t ever imagine changing my nose in order to pass as non-Jewish. Of course this is just my personal feeling and while I would like to believe that when it comes to the business of changing one’s features to rid oneself of one’s genetic ethnicity, that this is not something many or any women today contemplate, but I know so many women do.
According to Dr. Michael Olding, the Chief of Plastic Surgery at George Washington University, the good news is that he rarely gets requests for minimizing or removing ethnic characteristics.
“There were far more requests 10 years ago,” notes. Dr. Olding. “Hopefully that represents a more mature and accepting society of inclusion of all racial diversities.” He is quick to point out that while ethnic features in plastic surgery can sometimes be described by many terms that seem to be derogatory or offensive, like “nice Caucasian features”, westernized or ethnic rhinoplasty, and when a patient requests these features they are not meeting those beauty ideals of society.
Of course Dr. Olding still does have patients who want to change their ethnic features be it Asian, African American or Hispanic. Yet, by the same token these days there are actually certain ethnic features that are coveted and being requested when it comes to cosmetic surgery. For example, Dr. Olding notes patients are requesting Hispanic celebrity Jennifer Lopez’s derriere.
“I’m most frequently requested to maintain the look of the eyes of different races no matter what the ethnic population,” says Dr. Olding. “Patients are typically happy with their eye shapes, though some may still request a change to more Caucasian-looking eyes.”
Bottom line is that cosmetic surgery is meant to either improve upon the appearance or return it to what it once was. “My obligation to my patients is to try to achieve what they desire, educate them if it is, or isn't possible, and to discuss the risk/benefit ratio and the potential complications,” explains Dr. Olding.
Honestly the beauty of living in 2016 is that we can be anything we want and yet most of us are choosing to hold strong to our ethnic heritage with just a tiny tweak from trusted surgeons like Dr. Olding. It’s not so much about trying to emulate any race in particular, but embracing one’s own aesthetic and exploring minor tweaks to be the best you in your own eyes that you can be.
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