Ethnicity and Plastic Surgery Priorities

In New York, immigrant groups go under the knife for very different reasons.

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According to the New York Times, while "everyone wants a flat stomach and a smooth forehead," the similarities among various immigrant groups seeking plastic surgery end there, and plastic surgeons noticing ethnicity-based trends have become "sort of amateur sociologists." Some of their anecdotal observations:

Egyptians go for face-lifts.

Italians want knee reshaping ("Italian girls wear a lot of miniskirts").

Iranians prioritize nose jobs.

Russians are after breast augmentations.

Dominicans want buttocks lifts.

Asians seek double eyelid surgery (to create a crease), and Chinese immigrants are specifically interested in earlobe lengthening ("The bigger the earlobes, the more prosperous you are," in Chinese culture).

If the observations of doctors quoted in the story represent actual trends, they seem to show a split between two goals among self-improvement-seeking immigrants: Some procedures (eyelid surgery and nose jobs, for example), aim to obscure ethnic features (although surgeons quoted in the piece are quite defensive about the idea that these are meant to be race-bending beauty practices). Others (butt lifts, possibly, and earlobe lengthening, definitely) serve to emphasize features that retain cultural capital in particular ethnic communities, without regard for what mainstream America might think is attractive.

The piece notably lacked any observations about the preferences of African immigrants, but in a 2010 study by the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons, the most commonly requested surgical procedure among African Americans was nose reshaping, followed by breast reduction and liposuction.

Read more at the New York Times.

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