A Different Type of Yellow Fever
For several years, a multitude of news outlets including CNN and the Daily Telegraph, have reported on the dominant trend of Asian plastic surgery towards “looking more Caucasian.” However, one man in Brazil known as Xiahn Nishi — formerly named Max — has taken steps to seek the reverse. The Brazilian man, born with originally blonde hair and blue eyes, has undergone multiple surgeries in order to “look more Asian.”
In total, Xiahn has spent about $3,100 on these cosmetic surgeries which include 10 procedures on his eyes alone. He has also taken to wearing colored contact lenses in order to change his eye color.
Though this example has gained considerable attention, Xiahn is not the first non-Asian person who has sought to “look more Asian.” Both in the States and abroad, there is a considerable amount of girls who adopt a “Gyaru” style of makeup. The look, typically a modern, popular Japanese look, often includes the use of white eyeliner on the water line, black dramatically winged eyeliner, and circle lenses to create a cute, doll-like image. There are also tons of video tutorials online, many of which have had thousands of views, which help instruct girls on how to “look Asian.” In fact, in recent years, the Internet world seems to have developed a particularly intense hype about “looking Korean.”
Even in the case of Xiahn, he reports that he became interested in achieving such a look due to his time as a study abroad student in Korea. In my own travels internationally, I also often saw stores advertise that their clothing was from Korea or that similar styles had been worn by Korean celebrities. And even at my own college, I once saw a peer of mine post a status on Facebook, “I wish there was a surgery to make me Korean.”
This draw to a “Korean look” seems, in part, to be fuelled by the recent, international popularization of K-Pop. The style of music, which with it has its own unique style of clothing and makeup, has a huge following cross-culturally with hundreds of thousands of passionately dedicated fans. So while Xiahn may be one of the first individuals so widely publicized for his quest to “look Asian,” I highly doubt he will be the last.
Despite his drastic transformation, Xiahn states that he still identifies himself as a Brazilian and has not been treated any differently in his hometown, thanks to Brazil’s multicultural population.
“I don’t see myself as an Asian. I see myself as something in between,” he said. “I just wanted my eyes to look that way. I don’t feel like I’ve become an Asian or a Korean person.”