Show beautifies plastic surgery
By Yun Suh-young
A new cable TV program giving free plastic surgery to selected participants is raising a lot of eyebrows as many viewers find the show uncomfortable to watch.
The new show, called “Let Me In,” which started airing on Dec. 2, chooses patients out of a pool of thousands of applicants who feel self-conscious about certain body parts or have health issues and offers them plastic surgery at no cost. “Me-in” means a beauty in Korean.
As a result, they are reborn as completely different people, most of them made over not only on the parts they requested to change, but also on other areas of their body.
Two months into airing, the show is already drawing skeptical responses from a number of viewers.
On the message board of the program, a viewer posted: “I don’t understand what the purpose of this program is. Some of the people who get surgery look normal and could be beautiful if they took care of themselves. Wasn’t the program intended to help people with deformities?”
Viewers who posted critical comments generally agreed that the show seemed to promote plastic surgery overall.
“I could not help thinking that the program was nothing but an advertisement vehicle for plastic surgeries. It felt like the show was promoting a certain view about beauty. The more they stress the fact that women are treated well if they become more physically beautiful through plastic surgeries, isn’t that an outright degrading of our existence as human beings?” wrote a viewer with the ID: dot***.
The episode that received the most criticism from viewers was one in which a woman who had very small breasts had them enlarged. She claimed that she did not feel like she was a woman and felt betrayed when her husband had an affair with another woman. She attributed her failure in marriage to her small breasts.
A viewer said, “The woman with small breasts received surgery worth 60 million won. Her breasts became abundant and her face also changed through a complete make-over. Then what? Will her mental distress disappear? Will her husband now be faithful to her? Does anyone know how she’s living after the surgery?”
Regarding such criticism, a doctor from the show said there are people who really need surgery and the “woman with the small breasts” was one of them.
“There were only two cases that I agreed with carrying out surgery. The woman with the small breasts is one and the woman with the drooping waistline is the other. The woman with small breasts was undergoing severe mental distress and had very low self-esteem. Breasts are a symbol of femininity. She was devastated by the fact that her husband had an affair and she attributed it to her lack of femininity. I actively approved of the surgery,” said Yang Jae-jin, a psychiatrist who takes part in the show. He is one of the nine doctors who decide which participants to award surgery to.
Other viewers pointed out that the surgeries were superfluous.
“If a woman wants larger breasts, then she should just get the necessary surgery. Why is the show remodeling her entire body and turning her into another person? The makeover worth millions sends the message that money is the answer to everything,” said a viewer by the ID: min***.
Some openly questioned the sponsorship of the program. “I guess the program is sponsored by plastic surgeons. These days, regular people fantasize about plastic surgery and the program encourages the phenomenon even more,” said viewer by the ID: ma****.
The show, however, needs not to be criticized too fiercely since it was basically created out of commercial purposes, doctors say.
“These kind of makeover shows aren’t created out of pure generosity or the wish for the well-being of patients. Advertising for medical businesses is banned. So the show is a form of indirect advertisement. Plastic surgeons need publicity and the show needs high ratings. That’s why the show is programmed that way. It can be seen as a commercial in the mask of medical treatment,” said Noh Jai-sung, head of Department of Psychiatry at Ajou University Medical Center.
“It’s too much to ask for deeper content from the show. Besides, people wouldn’t watch it if it was too complex. It is a social problem that plastic surgery has become so popular. Beauty is way too focused on appearance. Mass media plays a big role in spreading the image of celebrities, thus creating a certain standard for beauty,” he said.
The show is simply supporting the growing demand for artificial beauties, an already rampant social malaise, he said.