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"Big eye surgery" ;: understanding the ethical implications of medicalising Asian features in cosmetic surgery
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 01:59 authored by Yves Saint James Aquino
In East Asian countries, the ever-growing popularity of facial cosmetic surgery has generated various debates on the ethical implications of the practice. Ethical discussions are zooming in on the medicalisation of race-identifying facial features, such as Asian eyelids, in what has been referred to as Asian cosmetic surgery. In this study, I first posit that medicalisation in Asian cosmetic surgery can be interpreted in two forms: treatment versus enhancement forms. In the treatment form, cosmetic surgery is viewed as a remedy for "pathologised" Asian features. In the enhancement form, cosmetic surgery is seen as a form of improving the normal, albeit unwanted, racial features. Next, I present the findings from an empirical study that investigates medicalisation and its two forms in cosmetic surgery websites hosted in South Korea and Australia, as both countries are experiencing a growing number of aesthetic surgery clinics for Asians. Finally, I offer an ethical analysis of the consequences of medicalising racial features, mainly drawing from the findings of the empirical study. In particular, I describe how the practice influences individual autonomy and how it impacts on the traditional goals of medicine.