Monday, March 7, 2016

Your face will get stuck like that OR A girl named Kim

As a young child, watching Bugs Bunny dig to China, presumably through the center of the Earth, and come out on the “other side”, got my thoughts churning.

I am a bit of a loner. I enjoy sitting alone, thinking to myself, musing about the events around me, watching people. As a child, these observations were budding, my musings simple. 

"What does it mean that Bugs Bunny changed when he came out on the “other side.” Was he still Bugs Bunny?"

Perhaps, it wasn’t actually Bugs Bunny. It is impossible to travel through the center of the Earth. Maybe it was Bugs Bunny’s doppelganger.

If it was, maybe I had a look-alike on the other side of the world, too. A girl named Kim who was exactly like me, the same age, the same interests, the same basic person, only, this Kim had almond-shaped eyes.

Sitting alone, in front of the bathroom mirror, mulling over these ideas, I decided I wanted to have almond-shaped eyes. I thought they would be more beautiful than my round eyes.

Suddenly, an idea popped into my head.

My dad had a way of getting us to stop pouting or throwing a fit, or at least trying to get us to stop.

“Make that face long enough, and your face will get stuck like that.”

Rationally, I may have known this was not entirely true.

The statement should have gotten the same “Daa-aad” response that, “If you stick your lip out far enough, a bird will come sit on it,” did.


Take this concept that a face could get stuck a certain way, and apply it to the idea that I wanted almond-shaped eyes.

The result?

I sat in the bathroom for what amounted to be hours, holding the outer corners of my eyes, trying to get my eyes to “get stuck like that.”

Slowly the realization came that there was no way my face was going to get “stuck”. It became obvious that it was improbable that suddenly I would have almond-shaped eyes just because I wished for them.

Little did I know that in this thought, this wanting to have an eye shape that I did not have, I unknowingly had found the key to what in the future turned out to be “a girl named Kim who was like me.”

Fast forward to my life in Ulsan, South Korea, an industrial city where having cosmetic surgery is the norm and never having had cosmetic surgery makes you an outlier.

Here, I am constantly complimented on my small face and big eyes. Both of these things are thanks to my heritage, and the fact that holding out the corners of your eyes does not change their shape, no matter how determined you are.

In Ulsan, girls are not just holding their faces in a shape hoping their faces will get stuck. In Ulsan, I am surrounded by plastic surgery eyes, by shaved jawlines and “high” noses.

You would think that simply being surrounded by all this plastic would have reminded me of my brief, childhood dream of having almond-shaped eyes, but it wasn’t until winter vacation when a coworker of mine got double eyelid surgery, that I started remembering.

First it was the idea of changing eye shape, and then it looped back to “that girl named Kim who is exactly like me, but she lives on the other side of the world.” If by Kim, I meant a family name, and by exactly like me, I meant wanted to look differently than she did, then I found her. 

In Korea.

As an adult.

Transforming her eyes to look more like mine.

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