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Kyoko Altman

Hong Kong, China

Kyoko Altman has worked as a correspondent and anchor for CNN and CNBC, and as a news-magazine reporter for Japan's top-ranked news program 'News Station' on TV Asahi. She has covered more than twenty countries. Close.

Kyoko Altman

Hong Kong, China

Kyoko Altman has worked as a correspondent and anchor for CNN and CNBC, and as a news-magazine reporter for Japan's top-ranked news program 'News Station' on TV Asahi. more »

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China's Frightening Beauty Industry

Last year ten people responded to a hospital advertisement for ‘height without pain’. They ended up disfigured. The operation involved breaking the patient’s legs and then stretching them on a rack.

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All Comments (28)


But this is true that caucasian are the most beautiful. In every part in the world there are beautiful woman, but in Europe there are A LOT OF THEM. Sorry. That's true, but if you don't accept yourself it's your problem.

kay kay:

you are black wow


Many white women and men have plastic surgery to make their small eyes rounder, and big noses flatter and narrower like asians. Asians seem to have the smallest noses. In hollywood, it seems that all the actors and actresses look soo different from their natural faces, it's sad. Without makeup alot of people of all groups would have squinty or small eyes. If no one dyed their hair or wore their natural hair texture, or wore no makeup or had plastic surgery, our world would look very different.


I think what is missed often in reporting on this epidemic, whether or not it is implied here, is the fact that many people, regardless of the depth of skin color, often people desire a clear tone of lightened skin. Sometimes, lightened is defined as erasing sun spots and discolorations that come with all sorts of melanin types....the darker the more apt to spot. So many people seek skin that is free from these conditions. It seems that often the way that problem has been dealt with is to "bleach" the skin overall to gain a clear tone. Today, hydroquinone is banned in so many parts of the globe, yet it is still found and used illegally or here in the U.S. where it is still legal for now. It is deemed dangerous by many governments, our own FDA is condering whether or not it is safe while the EU, Australia, Japan and other countries has decided it is toxic. There are many skin care professionals, plastic surgeons and dermatologists, alike that can help patients clear their skin of these blotchy, dark marks with alpha arbutin and kojic acid (Modus Professional Skincare dispensed ONLY through physicians offices) WITHOUT the bleaching effects. Patients are happy when spots fade and their true color shines through. But, marketing these products is difficult since hydroquinone is so effective in regards to bleaching skin quickly. The more the media highlights the situation, the alternatives and educates consumer's, the quicker this problem will be resolved.


There's an irony about Chinese women trying to look western because they think they would look better that way. In the west, a lot of people think that Chinese features are more beautiful than caucasian ones!

As for the dark skin/manual labor thing, I thought that one was pretty common in all cultures until the Industrial Revolution, when suddenly it was the rich who could play sports outside while the poor were stuck in the factories. Think sun bonnets, parasols, and all of that. But tanning seems to have gone out of fashion again, and I know lots of people (caucasian, Asian, AND African American) who try to avoid tanning to keep their skin in good condition. "Good" skin nowadays seems to be smooth, even in color, and without sun damage, whatever color it happens to be without a tan.


This story is easy to misinterpret. I live in China now. The beauty industry is exploding because of the explosion in disposable income, combined with the access to (and agressive marketing of) new treatments, from creams to surgery. The Chinese ideal of beauty (which cannot be easily explained away) and the agressive pursuit of it is not undergoing a significant shift.


Can you say "MICHAEL JACKSON"? Who knows why people have this affinity to look like some( they are not? Does this go back to when we were kids trying to emulate our heroes? It's a cryin' shame that hard-earned money is wasted on Plastic Surgery to compensate for lack of self-worth and appreciation. Society portrays all that is beautiful is non-obtainable for the masses.(without BUYING it)...and even then it does not "fix" the person. And it is NOT just western culture.


Beauty does not buy lasting love, nor does it cause a happy family.

Possessions and appearances fade, but who we are inside is the lasting work of our lifetime.

It's too bad modern shallowness often puts a high price on chasing external illusions, while neglecting things important to our inner foundations.

Older, thank God.:

Somebody put up a big sign showing the latest studies...the models are the unhappiest of people in the aggregate. Miserable.
More to fear, we hear the the current crop of collegians in the US, at least, are the most self centered and nassicistic recorded.
You'd have to spend all your life on your looks to matter? When do you get to be a person?


I think the basic problem with this article is defining why women do what they do. I have been married for 26 years and still haven't figured it out.

Here's a Thought:

Maybe those Muslim women that wear headscarfs are onto something afterall? I don't ever see them worrying about make-up, face-bleaching creams or even complaining about a bad hair day. Low maintenance, attract less attention and get harassed less too?!


Why women in the West have their breasts enlarge? Why do they wear high heel? Why do they need a nose job? They do it because the men are sick, pervert.

Zheng Ho:

I think many women's breasts is many great and it make me several happy.

Why do you sake women for what they desire, which is please man, which is good job. Women want to make man many happy and is that not of goodness?



According to Newsweek a few yrs ago, the Koreans aren't the only ones embracing an ideal of Caucasian beauty. I read that in Chile, the Japanese immigrants there are increasingly resorting to eyelid surgery to remove their folds, so as to open their eyes bigger.

It's interesting to me that a lot of British people have eyelid folds that look an awful lot like Oriental peoples. I come from a lot of British stock, and my mother has eyelid folds that made me wonder if she was of Oriental heritage, but I haven't found any in her genealogy. They mostly seem to be British. But I don't hear of British people having eyelid surgery.


none of you have any idea what you're talking about


This is from a culture that practiced foot binding up until the first half of the 20th century. Why is anyone shocked at this?


Hey Winona, you may want to remember some 3rd grade math. A footprint of a high heel is smaller than the actual foot, since the foot is raised similar to a hypotenuse of a triangle.


Umm. Hello folks? Anyone remember Memoirs of a Geisha? While the book itself was pure fiction and the double lidding part (and increase in breast size is a Caucasian thing), the whitening of the skin goes back centuries for noble and moneyed women in Asia --enough that historians have found compounds that include white lead, mercury and arsnic. Belladonna was used to permenantly widen the pupils so that the eyes appeared to be endless pools of darkness. Before anyone from Europe or America thinks they're so clever,though, try reading,"From the Ballroom to Hell," a historical treatise on what Western women were willing to do to themselves. By they way, one of my Fellows was doing her dissertation and discovered that the length of the footprint provided by a woman in modern high heals is the same as an Asian woman who had her feet traditionally bound beginning at the age of five. So much for our "modern civilization!"


I don't think I've ever looked at a person and said, "I don't find her attractive because her skin color says manual labor and poverty." It all boils down to prejudice in the assumption that someone with dark skin lives in poverty and does manual labor.

You will not marry her/him because he is black and poor eventually morphs into you will not marry him/her because he/she is black. If black skin is said to be ugly enough times then it becomes that way because people accept it as such.

another voice:

If you actually paid attention to the article, you'll understand that the ideal of 'caucasian beauty' isn't to blame for the skin-whitening; it's to blame for the attempts to get other 'caucasian' features such as double-lidded eyes or "thinner faces, pointed chins, and straight noses."

They also discussed in one episode of Oprah how Korean women were increasingly embracing white standards of beauty and resorting to cosmetic surgery to make their faces thinner and their facial feautures such as their eyes and noses more 'caucasian-looking'


Some folks here are taking out of context the fact that Chinese history is more to blame here then caucasion skin color.
What was being refered too here was the difference between working ( labor class peons ) of the dynasties from which ever era it was deemed beautiful to have the pale look.
Being nobel the women of that class can live there days inside or shaded all the time and therefore never get tan, unlike there labor classed sisters. So white skin was that of money and nobility, tan skin meant labor and being poor.
Seems to be that this Historical outlook just transended the centuries and has become something more with the discovery of the Europeans pale skin tone as something that is normal. Seeing that the Chinease historically have been subjecated to this way of thinking for so long now wonder they feel that being pale is more beautiful.
Now onto the breast augmentation and such...well that is something that seems to be a manifestation of the men's appitites and stigmatisims. There are of course all kinds of shapes and sizes that men are attracted too but with ads and movies portraying the more full and larger breasts from young women that are shapely and beautiful. Identity of self is often projected from what others see as beautiful, and the madia of ads and movies have definatly pushed things in a direction that for some would be impossible to obtain if it were not for medical advancement. This advancement is something that is neither good or evil but how it is applied is where or ethics and morals should be applied.

Random Gent:

...the fool or the fool who follows?


I think all the overly worried Americans here need to chill out. The idea of white skin being attractive and dark skin associated with manual labor probably came about naturally in Asia as it did in Europe. The most attractive features for all cultures seem to be the ones that are hardest to attain/maintain.

Gong Fan:

Gong Li's boobs are disturbing billions of people's sense of self? Shocking...

J Rhinehart:

I read once that when the Natives of America saw the much lighter-skinned Europeans and their relatively black-skinned Negro servants, they described them as being "underdone" and "overdone", meaning I take it that their own medium-skin was just right. At that point in time, they evidently didn't envy the Caucasians. I have noticed that a lot of black people in this country have started using skin-bleaching chemicals. They're for sale in every grocery store and drug store, so it's common here, too.

I feel for those Chinese who have become damaged by con-artists. But it's not the 1st time. I read that Marilyn Monroe traveled to France in the early 60's to have breast augmentation, but at the time, the practice was to inject silicon directly into the breast. The injections caused infections, which were said to be increasing at the time she died. On her last film, she had a lot of illness days and was finally fired. The Chinese would do well to research the past before they have any kind of surgery, especially elective.


This all seems like another way to blame American culture. White skin does not make you any better than a person with darker skin. I am an African-American female who is mistaken for White all the time. Having lighter skin does not make you better than anyone else and will not make you feel better about who you are. Insecurities about self CAN'T be changed with a scapel or bleaching cream.

Practitioner of Caution:

Beauty is not something you can just have it is something you live. Show some precaution, do some digging. Knowledge is power people. Always read what's in the ingredients. And if you don't know what it is, learn what it is and what it does. Same principle goes with food and good nutrition (which, might I say, I think food is way too processed these days). Don't waste your money and time, learn how to be beautiful without making other people responsible. If more people did that we'd all be a little healthier.

Ms. Disturbed:

How sad that we (caucasians) have so permeated the global consciousness that people are now disfiguring themselves to achieve an empty and meaningless ideal of "beauty". When did we as a world stop recognizing individuality? If I could tell anything to the women of China, and the Phillipines, and anywhere else where "whitening" and plastic surgery is growing...please stop. As a fair-skinned, blue eyed Irish American, I can tell you that all my life all I wanted was to get a decent tan and chocolate eyes! The grass is always greener...

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