Is looking Chinese really so awful?

Looking Western seems to be an ideal of beauty for some Chinese women, according to an article in the Daily Mail. They are getting cosmetic surgery on their faces to remove their Chinese features – making their eyes bigger, sharpening their noses and reshaping their faces to seem longer.  Is looking Chinese really so awful for these women that they feel they have to destroy their own faces to look more Western and therefore in their minds more beautiful?

Looking at the photos in the article, I am reminded of depictions of women in anime comics, which originated in Japan – with large saucer like eyes and heart shaped faces, mapping Western features onto Eastern female faces. The skin tones also seem to have been altered to look paler and pinker. There, too, in those comic books, Western features are idolized.

Chinese woman before and after Westernizing cosmetic surgery

Bound Feet Blues explores why women in ancient China were prepared to do violence to themselves and their daughters in the context of footbinding, which mutilated a girl’s feet beyond repair. That brutal cultural practice died out about 70 years ago. But it looks like it has returned but in another form.

The underlying message of both bound feet and this Westernizing cosmetic surgery seems to me to be that women still feel that their natural selves are not good enough, not beautiful enough, not lovable enough – and that only in destroying themselves and remaking their bodies into some fantasy ideal of beauty can they become acceptable. This is of course not restricted to China and these Chinese women in the Daily Mail article but extends to Western women too with our plethora of treatments ranging from Botox through liposuction, facelifts, boob jobs and more…

Would they hear me if I said: you are beautiful and gorgeous already in your own natural state? I am one small voice compared to the media and other social and cultural messages that surround them – and all of us – today about what women SHOULD look like.


Photo: from the Daily Mail article mentioned above –


About Yang-May Ooi, Writer & Performer – Bound Feet Blues

Yang-May Ooi is an award-winning TEDx speaker, bestselling author and story performer. Her work supports creatives and others to shine, inspire and lead through the power of personal narrative. Bound Feet Blues is her first full length solo story performance.


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