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TV Station Apologizes to Julie Chen After Her Eyelid Surgery Confession

By September 15, 2013

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Julie Chen's recent admission that she received double eyelid surgery to advance her career continues to spark reaction. On Wednesday's episode of CBS' "The Talk," where Chen is co-host, the television personality said that she chose to have blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery) after her supervisor at an Ohio news station told her in the 1990s that she would never be an anchor there unless she did something about her eyes. She recalled him telling her:

"Let's face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton? On top of that because of your Asian eyes, I've noticed that when you're on camera, you look disinterested and bored."

When a well-connected agent reinforced the offensive message by telling her he would not represent her unless she altered her appearance, Chen told her parents that she was considering blepharoplasty and soon after went on to have the procedure. Blepharoplasty creates a fold in the eyelid, resulting in eyes that appear bigger and more rounded. After she had the procedure, Chen says that her career took off.

Now the Dayton news station that Chen worked at when she underwent double eyelid surgery has apologized for her experience there. "We are sorry to hear about what happened to CBS' Julie Chen in 1995 when she was a reporter at WDTN-TV," Joe Abouzeid, WDTN and WBDT president and general manager said in a statement. "The station was under different management and ownership during that time. At WDTN and WBDT, we don't tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind."

While the station has apologized to Chen, members of the public have not been so sympathetic to the chat show host. During her confession Chen wondered if she "gave in to the man." Angry Asian Man blogger Phil Yu said that she "kind of did," but he went on to say that blepharoplasty is so sought after in Asian countries such as South Korea that Chen's confession would not have raised any eyebrows there (no pun intended). Others said that Chen's decision to have eyelid surgery wasn't solely about her racial heritage because she appears to have had a number of other cosmetic procedures as well.

What are your thoughts on Chen's confession? She said that her decision to have eyelid surgery divided her family members. If you felt that your career would remain at a standstill unless you altered some aspect of your appearance, would you cave and get plastic surgery?



September 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm
(1) Glenn Robinson says:

So are plastic surgeons kind of racist?

September 16, 2013 at 7:23 pm
(2) gary blakeman says:

Caucasians are the best-looking race. If people of other races want to appear more Caucasian, what’s the problem? Why do Blacks put hair coloring and straightenor on their hair? And let’s not have a bunch of racist accusations. If you cannot manage intellectual honesty, your opinion is worthless. I will go ahead and answer the person who claims Whites get suntans because they want to look Black. We do it to look more outdoorsy. The point is; there is nothing shameful about people wanting to do things that in their opinion improve their looks.

September 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm
(3) kaytee says:

As Phil Yu points out, the surgery is very popular in Asia; if she had been working as a newscaster there, she probably would have been given the same “advice”.

Furthermore, a more primitive version of the surgery was popular with stage actresses (and probably actors), when the prevailing opinion of Westerners was that they were ugly, big-nosed monkeys. Why? Because “big eyes” were/are considered attractive and expressive, and “rice eyes” were/are not. Not because they look Western/Occidental/White.

September 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm
(4) tanya says:

Such disappointing commentary so far. Of course this was a racist incident. People from all parts of the world give up pieces of themselves to assimilate; ie, be accepted and achieve success. However, allowing others to demand body mutilation in order to be successful is major abuse. When it has to do with ridding yourself of ethnic physical characteristics it is so abhorent. But it also raises the question of internalized racism–the acceptance of others judgmental opinions about yourself.

In a white supremacist culture, the standard of beauty, especially for women, is the white standard. The comment about the caucasian appearance being the most beautiful is glaringly racist. Given the exportation of American racism, it is not surprising that peoples in other countries try to whiten themselves to attain white skin privilege.

For my taste I think there are many peoples in the world far more gorgeous than the caucasian woman.

September 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm
(5) gary says:

For me to say that Caucasians are the best-looking race, ” is glaringly racist “, while, ” For my taste, I think there are many peoples in the world far more gorgeous than the Caucasian woman” is your entitled opinion? Try to be intellectually honest, or you have no credibility. If a Black, Hispanic or Asian says that their race is the best looking, you would not bat an eye. Your attempts to deny Whites the right to express their opinions reveal all we need to know.

September 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm
(6) Zainab says:

Gary Blakemen your comments are ridiculously racist. You’re probably not even remotely attractive. It’s people like you who keep racist going and the same inferiority complexes amongst people of colour.
Beauty is in all races. Unfortunately we’ve got people like you who are ugly inside and out.

September 17, 2013 at 8:05 am
(7) skee chappell says:

Gary you are so incredibly ignorant it’s shameful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

September 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm
(8) Chris Sturm says:

I am a white lesbian and my partner is half Pakistani and half Filipino. Her eyes are among the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen. They are the first feature I noticed about her. They are different from my own. Mine are green. Hers are brown. Mine are slightly hooded and hers have an epicanthic fold that reveal her mother’s ethnic legacy. I am not an Asian fetishist — I am just a person who finds beauty where it exists.

To Gary Blakeman, who claims that Caucasians are the most aesthetically pleasing. To whom? Racist Caucasians? People from other ethnic backgrounds with Caucasian fetishes? People from other ethnic backgrounds who internalize white supremacism and feel ashamed of their own physical differences, forgetting that they are also beautiful?

To Kaytee: 1. The surgery is popular in Asia. That is due not to the accuracy of the notion that whites are relatable to everyone but to the horrifying fact that Asians have also acquiesced to internalized racism. A small percentage of white America controls the world. They want to be successful like everyone else so that they can provide the best they can for themselves and their families. The fact that they think they must look like us to do so and that their employers pressure them into that kind of thinking is an abominable truth. The sad fact that Asian news agencies would put the same pressure on Asian journalists is even more abominable, not less. Whites are not relatable to everyone. There are far more non-Caucasians than there are Caucasians in the world. For you to think that a person with light skin is relatable to most people in the world is, at best, flagrantly ignorant.

2. “Rice eyes”?!

To Tanya: You had me until it the last line of your comment, which suggests that you ignore what is good and attractive about white people in the same way that racist members of non-white communities do. That’s prejudice, too, and it undermines the salient points of your argument.

September 30, 2013 at 9:15 pm
(9) kaytee says:

@ Chris: “The surgery is popular in Asia. That is due …to the horrifying fact that Asians have also acquiesced to internalized racism.”

Mmm… Are Whites who go to tanning salons and perm their hair acquiescing to internalized racism, too? And how does “internalized racism” apply to those Asians who underwent the primitive version of the procedure, before “yang-guei” were but a rare oddity in Asia? And were considered ugly, to boot? Or did you miss that part of my post? If not for the poor risk:benefit ratio, it probably would have been more popular prior to the advent of modern surgical technique– because they liked the “big eye” look, not because they wanted to look European. To paraphrase Freud… sometimes a preference (for a given “look”) is just a preference; it has nothing to do with racism, internalized or not.

Furthermore… it is a popular surgery for non-Asians as well. Despite most of my friends/acquaintances being of Asian ancestry, I know only one Asian woman who got the surgery, but I know several White (or look-White-to-me) women, and one man, who have. None of them, Asian nor Caucasian, looked any “whiter” post surgery.

And, yeah… “rice eyes”. Fairly common descriptive term used in American-Asian communities. Probably started as Hawaiian pidgin… which can sound pretty rude, even when there is no intent to be. In any case, it arose from within the communities, not from the outside.

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October 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm
(11) Robert says:

I read the article but it is the commons I wanted to comment on…

Beauty is usually define by the symmetry of the face and the proportions (usually in 1/3) from the hair line to brow, brow to tip of nose and then tip of nose to chin. In almost all cultures, those that have proportional and symmetrical face have pretty faces.

Also, pretty faces tend to be boring faces… which is why little tweaks to symmetry and these proportions lead to beauty.

It is sad that people feel the need to adjust their natural features to be more “white”. But they do… because there is/was the mythology that “white” faces would have a broader appeal or greater acceptance.

I, as a white person, have never found this to be true…

Lastly… a truly beautiful person has a compassionate and loving heart… and will endeavor to listen and learn before bombastically shouting opinions as facts.

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