Ethnic plastic surgery

Ethnic plastic surgery or ethnic modification,[1] is plastic surgery intended to change an individual's appearance to look more or less like a particular race or ethnicity.

Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) are also popular procedures.

Michael Jackson's plastic surgery has been discussed in the context of ethnic plastic surgery.[2] In her book Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery, Elizabeth Haiken devotes a chapter to "The Michael Jackson Factor" presenting "black, Asian and Jewish women who seek WASP noses and Playboy breasts. They are caught in the vexed immigrants' dilemma of struggling not only to keep up with the Joneses but to look like them, too."[3]

Ethical considerations

Plastic surgeons Chuma J. Chike-Obi, M.D., Kofi Boahene, M.D., and Anthony E. Brissett, M.D., F.A.C.S. distinguish between motivations of aesthetics and racial transformation for patients of African descent seeking plastic surgery. In their opinion, "Patients whose desired surgical outcomes result in racial transformation should be educated about the potential risks of this objective, and these requests should generally be discouraged."[4]

Feminist scholars have split views on the subject. Christine Overall, professor of philosophy at Queens University, has written that personal racial transformation, or as she puts it "transracialism", belongs to a larger class of personal surgical interventions. This larger class includes transsexual identity change, body art, cosmetic surgery, Munchhausen syndrome and voluntary female genital cutting. Her basic thesis is that the arguments against the ethical nature of racial transformation (e.g. "it's not possible", "betrayal of group identity", "reinforces oppression", etc.) stand or fall with the ethical arguments related to transsexual change. Basically, if it's OK for persons to change their gender, it's OK for persons to change their race.[5] Cressida Heyes, professor of Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Alberta, disagrees with Overall's schema. Heyes feels that racial transformation is fundamentally different from gender transformation since race is also determined by ancestry, personal cultural history and societal definitions. Hence ethical considerations of transracial surgery are different from ethical considerations in transsexual surgery.[6]

See also


  1. Is “Ethnic Modification” Surgery Ethical?
  2. Ethnic Plastic Surgery: What’s in a Name?
  3. America's Paint and Body Shop
  4. Chike-Obi; et al. (2012). "Tip Nuances for the Nose of African Descent" (PDF). Facial Plast Surg. 28: 194–201. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1309299.
  5. Christine Overall, "Transsexualism and 'Transracialism'", Social Philosophy Today, vol 20, 2004, pp 183-193
  6. Heyes Cressida J (2006). "Changing Race, Changing Sex: The Ethics of Self-Transformation". Journal of Social Philosophy. 37: 266–282. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9833.2006.00332.x. (Subscription required (help)).
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