SBS’ Beauty Race explores the new ‘Western’ trend in plastic surgery


Tonight's episode of SBS' Insight puts plastic surgery under the knife.Plastic surgery has long been reality television staple. Once the controversial domain of the rich and famous, watching a select, superficial few undergo painful implants, augmentations and facelifts from the comfort of our own armchairs continues to make for strangely addictive viewing long after Masterchef winds down.

Especially when a show like SBS’s Insight comes along to reveal the growing number of people who are willing to change their racial features in the quest for beauty. From double eye-lid surgery and chin implants to skin lightening or darkening, many of the people appearing on the show are undergoing cosmetic surgery to achieve a more ‘Western look’. Others say it has nothing to do with trying to look more Caucasian – it’s just about being more beautiful.

On the show, which screens tonight at 7.30pm on SBS you’ll meet Heidi Liow, who decided to go all out to get double-eyelid surgery, a nose reconstruction (she requested a “Megan Fox nose, with a cute flick at the end”) and a chin implant. I spoke to her about what spurred her to go to such lengths and what she considers ‘beautiful’.

What was the thought process behind changing the look of your face?

HL: I didn’t worry too much about how different I looked, I was more focused on how much easier it would be to apply eye make-up and to enjoy taking photos where my faced looked more angled and less round! I wasn’t worried about people finding out about my intentions to have surgery and during my recovery process I was more fascinated and curious about how my body was changing and healing.

Did you have counselling prior to the surgeries?

HL: Not at all, I don’t think I have an irrational perspective on my body. I have thought about it for a very long time before actually deciding to go ahead and find out more about the surgery.

How do you feel when you look in the mirror now?

HL: There are some days I look at it and I can’t comprehend it’s my face. Once I was looking through some group photos and I didn’t even spot myself in them! There are other days where I look at it and I’m sick of it in the sense that I’m now so used to it.

What about those around you, family and friends?

HL: Most people look into my eyes and know it’s me. Some of them have said they don’t know how to act around me now because I look so different.

SBS asked Heidi to keep a video diary while recovering from surgery.

Are you happy with the overall result of your surgery?

HL: I originally had some doubts about my chin, as I had recovered so quickly from my eyes and nose – I felt slightly depressed that I had done so much and for a while I regretted being so vain. However my patience persevered and upon complete recovery I found that it was a good decision and I’m extremely satisfied.

Would you consider more in future?

HL: LaughsThe moment you consider what else you would like to alter you think, oh yes I would do that. However, when you have gone through all the discomfort of bandages and needles and not to mention boredom at home, it makes you reconsider. I have considered various other procedures but it’s really not necessary, and I think it was more of out of greed and the fact that I could do more – it’s a mindset of, why should I stop since I’ve already started.

What does beauty mean to you?

HL:I think it’s the inside that really counts.Sometimes you want your outer shell to reflect your inner soul, but we are unfortunately visual creatures. I think your outside should reflect your inside.

Insight: Beauty Race will air tonight Tuesday 16 August, 7.30pm on SBS ONE.


Josie Gagliano is a freelance journalist and blogger, and ex-editor and beauty editor. Spending several years as beauty editor for Australian lifestyle mag Cream magazine saw her develop a love affair with the latest lotions, newest beauty treatments and can now justify her obsession with finding the perfect caramel brown hair colour, most flattering eyebrow pencil, and ultimate stay-put lippie, nail polish, and eye shadow. You can read her beauty pieces for NineToFive twice a week here, and her daily musings on myriad things

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