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Transformation on TV

Yawen Sun

Art of Screen Media

Dec. 12, 2018

Transformation on TV- Korean Cosmetic Sugary Reality Show

With the development of medical technology, people nowadays have a wider range of options concerning how to enhance their looks. Everybody indeed has some flaws, some can be fixed by putting makeup on, but some cannot. For those who have flaws that cannot be fixed by doing makeup, undergoing cosmetic surgery may be the best way for them. Let’s 美人, which was also translated to Let me in and Let’s Beauty, is a South Korean reality TV show promoting cosmetic surgery. Each episode of the series usually has two participants who have suffered due to their appearances. Their partners abandoned them because they were not pretty enough. Some of them could not find a job to afford their normal life because the bosses did not like the way they look. Some were bullied in school for having apparent flaws. All of them lacked confidence they look. Some were bullied in school for having apparent flaws. All of them lacked confidence and hopelessness about life. After telling about their sad stories, the professional cosmetic surgent who was “invited” by the show would start to make surgery plans for the participants. A few weeks later, after they underwent the cosmetic surgeries and recovered, they would show up in the show again. But this time, they looked entirely different because their flaws had been fixed and they became much more confident. The show had five seasons, and it had been broadcasted from 2011 to 2015 and had caused massive controversy in South Korean society. This paper will mainly focus on analyzing the two most significant purposes of starting a cosmetic surgery show from the production aspect. It will also talk about what kind of information the production team wants to tell audiences and society.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, cosmetic surgery is a unique discipline of medicine focused on enhancing appearance through surgical and medical techniques. In addition to improving appearance, there are more benefits of cosmetic surgery. The most helpful one which Let’s Beauty had highlighted was that it could potentially fix the health issues. For example, many participants in the show had irregular jaws and oral issues. These problems had not only affected their look but also had caused inconveniences in talking and chewing. For these participants, an appropriate surgery would improve their appearance and also give them a better life quality. Let’s Beauty told the audience that taking cosmetic surgery is a chance for them to rebuild their lives —— When you look good, you feel good. You will become more confident. Abundant evidence in our daily life has shown that people with more attractive appearances may gain more professional and personal opportunities. Those who are prettier than average tend to make higher salaries and get selected for promotions more often (Adamitis, Introduction,2017). A cosmetic surgery never just simply changes how you look; indeed, it will produce an unpredictable impact on one’s psychological environment and mental Kathy Davis mentioned that she met a girl when she went to a conference. The girl was fifteen years old, and she wanted to get her nose done, because of getting harassed at school for “having a nose like that.” “She became miserable, antisocial and developed the feeling of inferiority” (Davis, P 17, 2008) Similar life trauma happened to the majority of participants. A male participant suffered from overweight and disorder. He blamed his parents for not giving him a beautiful face and never talking to them; he never went outdoors, and all he did was sleep and eat. A female participant had three kids. Pregnancy caused her obesity. Her family, her husband, mother-in-law, and her kids started to embarrass and even insult her just because she was fat and no longer pretty. She had a very hard time, but all she could do was eating even more food to distract herself. The first part of Let’s Beauty usually portrayed the participant as a very pathetic and powerless figure. After the cosmetic surgery, they became unbelievably attractive, confident, and positive. All of the problems were solved including the mental ones. It seemed like for those who have been suffering a tough life and difficulties caused by their appearances, getting cosmetic surgery may be the best solution. Let’s Beauty proved to its audience that cosmetic surgery has shown the participants hope and successfully changed their lives. If there is a technique existing and it’s getting more and more mature, why not try to use it and give it a chance to make your life better? Let’s Beauty turned hopelessness into hope.

Besides helping people, another apparent purpose of starting a show like this would be a significant profit. First of all, the show itself was an effective advertisement for cosmetic surgery, the doctors, and the hospitals. Professor Hwang, an Associate Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Western Australia wrote in her research paper “You only have to spend a day in Seoul to realize that appearances do matter in contemporary South Korean society. Advertisements for various cosmetic surgeries are conspicuous everywhere—from taxis to public transport and underground stations, all evidence that the industry is booming.” (Hwang, 2013) In Asia, Korean cosmetic surgery is a big thing just like K-pop. A lot of people tend to follow the beauty and fashion trends in Korea. Therefore, they would always trust Korean Beauty standards. After earning great benefits from the entertainment industry, skincare and makeup industry, and fashion industry, the business people began to shift their focus on advertising Korean cosmetic surgery. The theme of cosmetic surgery attracted a considerable number of audiences to watch the show, and the show provided the cosmetic surgery industry with a platform to demonstrate its “magic power” In fact, the audiences love to see that significant transformation happened on one person. After discovering the potential interests, the TV companies started more shows focusing on transforming and changing appearance. The Thailand version of Let’s Beauty was even more influential. Admittedly, this show dug out enormous and outpouring benefits for the media, TV company, cosmetic surgery, even Korea. They targeted not only the local people but people coming from other regions. “In 2014, there were more than fifty thousand Chinese tourists who went to Korea to get Cosmetic Surgery.” (Liu, 2015) A new market began to form because of the new phenomenon. People who are bilingual in Chinese and Korean became professional translators for Chinese patients, and the prices of Korean cosmetic surgery began to increase. Before 2010, people already started to talk about how K-pop stars became gorgeous through cosmetic surgery and the production team of Let’s Beauty saw the potential and made it come true. Then the success of the show revealed more potential benefits, which inspired the TV company to produce more episodes. Profit is the most substantial reason supporting the production of Let’s Beauty even though there were massive controversies.

Besides the idea of “cosmetic surgery is magical”, this show has also conveyed some negative information to its audience. In one episode, a female participant showed up and cried about how upset she felt about her flat forehead and square jaw. Then the hosts asked her, “Did you become a target of bullies?” The answer was yes. Whose fault is it if someone was getting you become a target of bullies?” injustice treated by others because of not being a “beautiful” individual? It is never their fault. It is an ignorant mistake made by people who do not know respect. At some point, Let’s Beauty was implying to the audience that it is ok that people with less good-looking being abandoned,

Besides the idea of “cosmetic surgery is magical”, this show has also conveyed some negative information to its audience. In one episode, a female participant showed up and cried about how upset she felt about her flat forehead and square jaw. Then the hosts asked her, “Did you become a target of bullies?” The answer was yes. Whose fault is it if someone was getting you become a target of bullies?” injustice treated by others because of not being a “beautiful” individual? It is never their fault. It is an ignorant mistake made by people who do not know respect. At some point, Let’s Beauty was implying to the audience that it is ok that people with less good-looking being abandoned,

Besides the idea of “cosmetic surgery is magical”, this show has also conveyed some negative information to its audience. In one episode, a female participant showed up and cried about how upset she felt about her flat forehead and square jaw. Then the hosts asked her, “Did you become a target of bullies?” The answer was yes. Whose fault is it if someone was getting you become a target of bullies?” injustice treated by others because of not being a “beautiful” individual? It is never their fault. It is an ignorant mistake made by people who do not know respect. At some point, Let’s Beauty was implying to the audience that it is ok that people with less good-looking being abandoned, blamed, harmed, and bullied. The more glamorous you are, the better life you will have. Some participants even became superstars after undergoing the surgery. If you are not beautiful, you are pathetic, and nobody will love you or respect you.

Another thing is the unpredictable risk of cosmetic surgery. You may have heard that the top 4 risks are scarring and infections, severe reactions to anesthesia, tumor, and Nerve damage, which is a risk during any operation, but do you know these risks are higher for those who have a history of smoking, and lung disease? Let’s Beauty tended to hide the risks from the audiences. One participant said that the cosmetic surgery left her with a scar, but it was covered by makeup, so she still looked perfect on the screen. Of course, the production side would not want to alert the audience to the risks of getting cosmetic surgery or educate the public about the equality of human beings. Because those will decline the potential profit they can gain. They would rather face the critical opinion than give up the chance of making money.

Let’s Beauty had drawn more attention to South Korea, and the beauty industry, but show an incorrect moral standard to everyone. The audience learned more knowledge about cosmetic surgery. However, is changing appearance the only way to improve lives and solve problems? From a business perspective, Let’s Beauty is a successful advertisement for its product, but from a moral perspective Let’s Beauty did not educate the public in a good way, because cosmetic surgery is not the only option you have and no one should suffer because of their appearances.

Work Citation

Let’s 美人:렛미인 시즌 2011-2015 A Dramatic Change Of a Girl Once Called As ‘Chucky’ — Storyon

Davis, Kathy. Reshaping the Female Body: The Dilemma of Cosmetic Surgery. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Adamitis, Elizabeth M. ” Appearance Matters: A Proposal To Prohibit Appearance Discrimination In Employment. “HeinOnline. Washington Law Association, n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.

Hwang Joanna Elfving. “Cosmetic Surgery and Embodying the Moral Self in South Korea Popular Makeover Culture” The Asian Pacific Journal, June,16, 2013

Yang Liu “年内可查询韩国整容医师资质” People.cn http://health.people.com.cn/n/2015/0320/c14739-26722629.html

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