Julie Chen–news anchor, producer and television talk-show host–initiated quite a debate after revealing during “Secrets Week” on The Talk that she’d undergone East Asian blepharoplasty early in her career. The procedure, also known as double eyelid surgery, was done to make her eyes appear more open.
Why? Chen wanted to be on the anchor desk back in the 90′s when she was still working in Dayton, Ohio.
When she asked if she could fill in non the desk while others were away, the jerk said no:
“He said ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we really have in Dayton? … On top of that because of your heritage, because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, when you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested and bored because your eyes are so heavy, they’re so small.’”
Racism? Check. Obsession with Western beauty ideals? Check. But it doesn’t stop here. The shocking thing is that Chen then actually went to then see an agent who had represented very popular Asian news anchors.
At this point, she was thinking her employer was racist while simultaneously going down the self-doubt rabbit hole. She started videotaping her own interviews only to stare at her eyes, wondering: would this be the right decision?
The agent also told her that he could not represent her if she didn’t attain the procedure. He offered up a list of doctors on the spot.
Though her parents had supported her, it caused a divide within her family. Some of her family members were shocked, claiming she was denying her Chinese heritage. But Chen believed making this sort of sacrifice would pave the way for her career.
She said: “The eyes are bigger. I look more alert….more expressive. I will say after I had that done … the ball did roll for me.”
Honesty is important, but I’m not sure the message serves women–especially those in the Asian community–dealing with beauty ideals in a judgmental society. However, I applaud Chen for making a difficult decision that she believed was right for her.
What sorts of sacrifices would you make for your career? How far would you go?