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  • October 17, 2013

Musings: Ji Yeo’s Beauty Recovery Room

Big shifts are happening in the world; societies are changing rapidly. But how do we visualize this? It may not be immediately obvious what’s happening in this picture, but something seems unusual. Bruises, zippers, a covered face. This is not everyday life. The picture is not about who she is as an individual, but what she has chosen to do to her body as a part of her culture.

From the series Beauty Recovery Room
From the series Beauty Recovery Room

Photographer and artist Ji Yeo’s project Beauty Recovery Room focuses on the ubiquity of plastic surgery in South Korea. The series developed out of her own desire to alter her body. Even before high school, she felt pressure to be someone other than herself.

“As I moved on to high school, plastic surgery had become extremely popular in South Korea. In the entertainment news section of the daily newspaper more than half of the stories were about those who had recently had plastic surgery, where they did it, how successful it was, etc.”

“Surgery dominated conversations, and many of my schoolmates were planning for theirs. ‘Right after I graduate, I’m having my thighs and my cheeks done,’ they would say; but my dreams were much bigger. I was going to have a whole body surgery. I was going to totally transform my looks, become someone else. I truly believed that if I transformed my appearance, my life would transform along with it and I would finally be able to earn people’s respect and admiration.”

From the series Beauty Recovery Room
From the series Beauty Recovery Room

Yeo’s Beauty Recovery Room series “uses the wounded faces and bodies of women who have recently undergone plastic surgery to show the physical cost of social pressure in Korea. Going under the knife, enduring bruises, scars, and being under general anesthetic several times are no longer considered risky or extravagant. They have all had multiple procedures and have plans for future augmentation. The photos were taken directly after their operation, while they were resting and waiting to be healed.”

While her work may never affect cultural trends in South Korea, it shares private moments that the rest of the world would be unlikely to encounter. In places where plastic surgery is becoming more popular, perhaps some people will be swayed not to change their whole appearance. In Yeo’s case, after years of consulting with plastic surgeons and researching different looks, “It dawned on me that if I really wanted plastic surgery, I would have already done it. Somehow there was always something holding me back.”

From the series Beauty Recovery Room
From the series Beauty Recovery Room

“Even though I had always wished to change various details about my looks, when it came right down to it those were the very details that I was so hesitant to lose. The thought of losing them forever terrified me. I realized that in fact I didn’t need to change everything, rather I needed to change nothing. I needed to accept my whole self and the body that contained it. It was clear that the entire fantasy was built from an imagined outsider’s perspective. It was a societal fantasy of aesthetic perfection, and it didn’t really belong to me at all. It definitely did not bear living out.”

View more of Beauty Recovery Room on Ji Yeo’s website.

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There are 15 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. William Lira
    January 4, 2014

    Pure senseless vanity!

  2. tolayskie
    October 25, 2013

    this is common to all country but Koreans a very open about this procedure that is the difference

  3. mdkf
    October 25, 2013

    I think this kind of concept is best depicted in paintings. The photos looked rather weak.

  4. ekw
    October 19, 2013

    Of course “more Americans” get plastic surgery, the population of S. Korea is 50MM, the population of the U.S. is 310MM. It’s not the raw numbers but the per capita data that matter in this one question.

  5. emma vceego
    October 18, 2013

    natural beauty is the reasl beauty. it always the case that an ordinary-looking girl is plain at first look, but will be more and more beautiful in the later days. it’s natural’s harmonious. plastic surgery destroys this harmony and will leave a artificial rigid in the body.

  6. emma vceego
    October 18, 2013

    natural beauty is the real beauty. it always the case that an ordinary girl is plain at first look, but will be more and more beautiful in the later days. it’s natural’s harmonious. plastic surgery destroys this harmony and will leave a artificial rigid in the body.

  7. Molly Pos
    October 18, 2013

    It’s Correct to ask: Which are the one who undergoes this kind of procedure from? Or Why our society demands soo much of womankind?. It obviously is a matter of gender. And it mainly affects
    people who work or have been born in developed countries and has a regular income as to cover the bills. It’s a very complex matter. I think it’s a direct consequence of hundreds and hundreds
    of years of religious, social, emotional, political oppression which made us easily and naturally submissive. It’s the remains (or a relapse) of old (in some places it prevails) and rooted ways
    of thinking. Yes, the television exploits it. But why they society let it brainwash us? It’s a form of aggression againts women and I’m vigorously againts it!!

  8. CAROLINE
    October 18, 2013

    If we want to go with this worldly superficial culture, we’ll believe in all the lies it tells us. It is not so difficult to tell the lies from the truth, but look at all those politicians; be they male or female. Turn on your TV and look at them. The message is not about doing a good job, but doing a good face job. Well, nothing is new under the sun although things can be newer. Right? But, we can choose.

  9. izabel
    October 18, 2013

    i dont think that anyone should get plastic surgery, and just be who they are. cause if you get plastic surgery you change forever, and you should be proud of who you are.

  10. Californian
    October 18, 2013

    I cannot understand, where is the beauty by doing all of this! One of the most beauty I have seen is in the natural Mongolian look.

  11. marie
    October 18, 2013

    I wish people wouldnt have plastic surgery. Looks are not as important as who you are on the inside. And changing your body wont change who you are on the inside just like that…besides there are more important things than beauty.

  12. Hwang Ji young
    October 18, 2013

    In addition, the number of Americans who get the surgery is more than Koreans.

  13. Hwang Ji Young
    October 18, 2013

    I think this article exaggerate the fact. Desire to become pretty is common feeling in the world. Not only in the south korea. Because the technology of the plastic surgery is highly developed in south korea, it doesn’t mean many of the south koreans want to get the surgery. People get plastic surgeries mostly but that people are not all koreans. Many of them are foreigners. As a person who lives in south korea, can say that there are few people who want the real surgery in korea. Also, the fact is not that serious like the picture.
    In conclusion, I think the fact is too exaggerated in the article

  14. Hwang Ji-young
    October 18, 2013

    I think these pictures exaggerate the fact. Many people in south korea want to be pretty, but it is common thought in the ‘world’ not only in ‘south korea’ As a person who lives in south korea, there are not so many people who want to get plastic surgery, also, because our technique in the surgery is very developed, many foreigners come to get the surgery. It’s not ‘south korea’s only problem. It’s society’s, world’s problem. Americans do it more than koreans. In conclusion, I think this one exaggerate the situation in Korea.

  15. Amit
    October 18, 2013

    Umm.. seems exciting to get a complete makeover against nature.
    but changing physical appearance could change our perspective of thinking.?

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