Youth Trumps Beauty in South Korea

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Youth Trumps Beauty:
Bagel Girls and Baby Face Surgery

Writing in The Straits Times from Singapore, Kim Ji Hyun asks whether it's enough today to simply look beautiful in South Korea.

"Bagel girls" refers to a group of actresses who have been blessed with the face of a baby and the body of a glamorous woman. Coined on the South Korean Internet, the term "ba-gl" comes from the shortened "baby-faced and glamorous," a phrase capturing in a nutshell what has become an ideal of perfect beauty in some circles.

baby face
"Such is the South Korean obsession that looking merely beautiful is pretty passe," says the author. "A woman must also look young or much younger than her age these days. This is so not only among female celebrities, but also ordinary women who are in their mid-30s and deemed 'middle-aged'. Ditto for the men."

"In the 1990s, it [cosmetic surgery] used to be about altering a particular feature, such as the nose or the mouth or, most commonly, the eyes," said Dr Yoon Gyu Shik, head of EVERM Dental Clinic. "But now, it is more about how your face looks in general, and how young."

Cosmetic jaw surgery, for instance, is cited as a procedure that some feel can make a face look younger. By pushing back the upper and lower jaws, a surgeon can make the patient's face appear rounder and shorter -- in a way more child-like.

APSG Comment: "Baby Face" surgery has become a new buzzword in South Korea plastic surgery. More a collection of procedures than a new or exact operation, it's similar in concept to the term Mommy Makeover, which is really just another way of marketing a basket of assorted operations under a single moniker.

While interesting as a "counter-trend," attempting to recreate the roundness of a baby's face is the exact opposite of Square Face surgery now so popular in East Asia.

Cheek and jawline slimming procedures to create a V-line face and nasal augmentation rhinoplasty just don't fit into that equation.

Besides, creating a more youthful appearing face is about much more than "cutting surgery."

Facial aging is driven primarily by a loss of deeper volume -- fat, muscle, and bone -- which is the big reason why traditional plastic surgery alone can only make a face look better but not really younger.

A major component of Baby Face surgery, if that's really what you want to call it, is the application of minimally-invasive treatments.

BOTOX, dermal fillers, and fat injections can modulate drooping facial features and mute lines and depressions not present in a face still richly laden with natural fat. Lasers and other energy sources can improve on age-related skin imperfections.

However, be careful about what you wish for. Too aggressively applied, the result can appear disconcerting to say the least.

The plumped-out face of a baby applied indiscriminately atop an older body is more an out-of-kilter curiosity than a thing of beauty.

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Bagel Girls and Baby Face Surgery in South Korea