Human Alterations

The other night I chanced upon a TV documentary on plastic surgery in third world countries and was shocked at how the industry turned into a multi-billion dollar business despite the seemingly unaffordable cost of such scary procedures. In 1994 China began to celebrate the art of cosmetic surgery through a Miss Plastic Surgery beauty contest showcasing the best of the best product of human scuplting work. The award doesn’t honor the artist but the art work itself, the humans who underwent alteration of their bodies to create beauty that is deemed artificial but closest to natural beauty. For indulging in this vain and hypocritical contest the winners were awarded $6,000 for the first prize, pretty paltry compared to the thousands of dollars and the physical and psychological pain some of these people have to go through.

The TV documentary also said that those who went for height augmentation had to deal with months of pain and immobility to allow the bone graft, normally done under the knee, to heal and achieve the desired result. A maximum of 3 inches increase in height is most ideal. A woman who underwent the procedure, an aspiring young woman who wanted to get into modeling said that the problem with height increase is overall proportion of the body. Depending upon the person’s physique, long legs may look disproportionate with a shorter torso so it is important that the surgeon factors this relationship in his design.

The human alteration trade is also prevalent in Eastern Europe where such operations are much cheaper. Medical tourism is a word coined for people to visit the area and scout for nose lifts, height augmentation and other forms of plastic surgeries. Height augmentation for example isn’t exactly cheap – $75,000 in the U.S. and as low as $10,000 in Egypt.

Where does one draw the line in human alteration? Obviously there are tremendous costs involved so it follows that the wealthy or “can afford” are the prime customers in this industry. It also follows that today the “haves” are the more vain because they are braver than most of us to take the health risk to achieve that quest for perfection. I also think that if these surgical procedures become cheaper in future, the middle class or even the have nots may break their piggy banks to take a shot at altering their bodies, a privilege that the haves once enjoyed in the past.

An error in these type of procedures might be irreversible – the main scare, the reason why most people shun the thought of going under the knife, even for those who can afford. I am reminded for a radio talk show on this topic I listened to a couple of weeks ago. One guy who called in said it in the plainest language – ” I am married, I have a wife and I have no to reason to change my looks”. Makes perfect sense to me and I will argue no further.


I love Asian noodles and when Snglguy blogged about Ajisen Ramen I checked out if the international noodle franchise has a restaurant here in Toronto and they do ! They actually have two restaurants in the east end of the city where I’m from so I took the wifey and my daughter to the one closest at Warden and Steeles Sts. Friday night. I’ve gotten quite sick and tired of the Pinoy mami-siopao combo and the thousands of Chinese noodles varities you can find in the hugely Chinese section of the east end of this city that I wanted something different and a Japanese ramen franchise fits the bill for my strange noodle craving.

The Ajisen joint was quite cramped and if you don’t mind sitting elbow to elbow with strangers it’s quite alright ๐Ÿ™‚ Ajisen changes its bowl design yearly and they have the bowls for the last 15 years framed on the wall ! I also loved the coconut shell and bamboo soup ladle which was quite large but perfect to scoop noodles and meat.

I ordered the Japanese beef flank noodles and my wife the Kimchi pork rice plate. We had Japanese spring rolls and beef tenderloin strips as appetizers, Japanese tea for drinks. My little girl shared the noodle with me ( we went to Wendy’s afterwards so she can fill up with her kid’s meal). All dishes are under 10 bucks – mighty great. How much did I pay ? For all the dishes, including taxes ( 8 % provincial and 5 % GST ( aka VAT – these keeps our health care free and the budget surplus running ! ) , I paid $30 including tip. The food was quite OK and cost was reasonable. Thumbs up ๐Ÿ™‚


42 Responses

  1. I believe it’s not just vanity that’s been spurring some people to undergo those painful physical alterations, I’d probably include desperation in the list of reasons. For the haves, yes vanity is the primary reason as most of them are always after that “fountain of youth”. But for some have nots, adding or subtracting an inch here and there both in height and body measurements and having that sought-after aquiline nose could mean a world of difference between success and failure. This is particularly prevalent among those in the movie and modeling industries.

    Was I right about Ajisen, bro? Hehe. I just had me another one yesterday too, and with a side dish of spicy tofu. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Oooh, that height augmentation is scary. I saw a documentary on that too. I think they have to saw off your knees or something. A lot of things go wrong in China yata because most clinics are ran by quacks. I think those people who go under cosmetic surgery don’t have any concept of self-worth. Look at Rosanna Roces. She’s been under the knife so many times yet she’s such a fatty now.

    Love asian noodles… all kinds… Cambodian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, etc… I can eat them everyday. Kaya yata ako singkit… do you know that joke… “Pancit nanaman?” ๐Ÿ™‚ Gee, noodles under $10 is cheap? Oh yeah… that’s Canadian dollars. ๐Ÿ™‚ Funny your daughter… had to go to Wendy’s after your meal. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I have nothing against plastic surgery as long as it makes the person feel good about himself/herself. It’s the person’s money, body and life. So he/she gets to decide. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This reminded me of a joke I heard about the genie in the bottle/lamp.

    The man was on his last and final request and asked the genie, “I want my ting a ling ding dong to reach the ground.”

    The genie answered as usual, “Your wish is my command.”

    And so it could be told, the ting a ling ding dong touched the ground but the man was not happy.

    The reason: the genie made the man’s legs shorter.

    Moral lesson: Be careful with human alterations and be specific with what you want. lol

  5. I’m for it if it’s medically necessary or if it would help further one’s livelihood.

    I love Asian noodles too and so far I’ve tried Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean. Yummy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hello, I enjoyed your post for the most part. Personally, I have undergone four rounds of plastic surgery procedures in order to reconstruct my body after massive weight loss. Am I a “have or have not?”… it really doesn’t matter! This was a matter of necessity, not only physically for proportion’s sake, and psychologically for my own sanity and sense of well-being, but it was truly a “repair” and return to a functional form!
    Was vanity also involved? ABSOLUTELY.
    Was desperation present at times? HECK YEAH!
    Was bravery, or bravado, a function of my vanity? Hard to say… But I never really considered it vanity, I considered it, and do to this day, more than 6 years after I started this Journey, simply a series of steps I had to complete to make my outside truly reflect who I knew I was on the inside. Now, I take a more unique stance perhaps and I do NOT blame “society” for not accepting what I might look like on the “outside,” in a way, FORCING me to undergo these painful procedures… Heck no. I really didn’t CARE what society thought, I was doing it for ME… not society, not my husband, not my kids, not my friends or family, not for a better job or more opportunity,… It was purely and simply for ME. I knew what I wanted to look like and plastic surgery was a way to achieve it. Now, am I a product or function of the society in which I live? Well, how can we NOT be?
    I literally got my โ€œnew bodyโ€ in Brazil but I am American. Did Brazilian societal norms of what a โ€œgreat bodyโ€ should look like influence my desire for certain procedures and even the final results of the surgery itself? Of course! But why is that a bad thing, necessarily? Unless it just doesnโ€™t โ€œsit rightโ€ with you and so I say then again, โ€œDo what YOU want then. Look and dress and act the way that YOU wantโ€ฆ โ€œ as long as it resonates within you and YOU can look in the mirror everyday and be at peace and harmony with yourself. Even though I am back in the USA, I love my โ€œBrazilian bodyโ€ and would not want to conform to the American society standard (bigger breasts for example).
    I was most disappointed, yet not surprised, by the last comment about the man saying he was married and had a wife and therefore saw no reason to alter his appearance. What exactly does THAT have to do with any decision to do something so life changing and transforming? If anything, THAT statement is a clearer indication that more people are concerned with society than about vanity. Which is the lesser evil? LOL!! What I tell MY patients (I began a Medical Concierge Service in Brazil in 2002 to help my peers after my own experience) when I consult them about having these surgeries, is to make sure first and foremost that they are doing it for THEM and only THEM! They cannot CARE what size breasts their husband or boyfriend or whomever may โ€œwantโ€ (excuse me??!!) because they could very well be gone tomorrow and then you are stuck with D cups and perhaps some neck pain, etc just because someone preferred that size and the woman gave in. Now THAT is desperation!
    Cosmetic or any plastic or โ€œbeauty enhancementโ€ procedure or surgery should ultimately be judged or justified for its necessity and motive by no one other than the person choosing to undergo it. It really isnโ€™t anyone elseโ€™s place. Are there going to be extremes where most of society will have some reaction, like the Texas woman going to Brazil for yet another breast enlargement procedure because a surgeon here either lacks the skill to perform it, or simply chooses to โ€œjudgeโ€ her and decide for himself that she doesnโ€™t โ€œneedโ€ it. Perhaps there are indeed even medical reasons NOT to go larger (I myself cannot imagine the neck and shoulder pain she could experience) yet, there are medical reasons not to take aspirin tooโ€ฆ soโ€ฆ again, all relative to the individual. Thatโ€™s what we all are: Individuals. With our own set of values, perceptions, vision, needs and desires. And if we want it bad enough, and there is a way to achieve it, especially knowing the risks and becoming informed, we will continue to strive for our own idea of perfection. Letโ€™s just try and bless those on this journey to self-reveal or maybe, โ€œself-harmonization.โ€
    Christi D

  7. Oh, the things people do for the sake of vanity. As long as they’re willing to take the medical risk, then they should go ahead and do it. Baseball player Barry Bonds lost a friend who died after undergoing liposuction and there’s the botched plastic surgeries of celebrities we sometimes see. There’s Kanye West’s mom who died, possibly due to plastic surgery. I think the issue is more a psychological one than a physical one. People undergoing plastic surgery desperately want to be accepted by society that they’re willing to risk their lives to do it. But hey, it’s their choice.

    Never heard of Ajisen ramen, but it looks like there’s a few here in California. I might try it.

  8. A long time ago, plastic surgery is a hush-hush. But now its a norm. If I had money, maybe I will get something fixed too, he!he!

    I should try that Ramen place one day. Souns yummy.

  9. Snglguy – there’s a difference with augmentation that maintains the person’s identity and one that changes it, making him/her look like a reincarnation of some other person ! Subtle augmentation works but transformation would make people say unkind things ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    You would be an instant billionaire in Pinas today if you could invent a skin whitening ointment that did the same job with Michael Jackson hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s nice joint to have anytime you feel that special noodle craving for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Toe – you kinda wonder how a gorgeous looking woman like Rosanna Roces still had to undergo plastic surgery. I’ve met Pinay mestizas who are beautiful and still go for facelifts when they’re not even in their 50’s yet. Is it fear of getting old? Kinda mindboggling indeed ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Here you can get a good meal for less than 10 bucks all the time. Noodles in Chinese fast food places are between 3.99-4.99. Ajisen’s is a little more pricey but really not that bad because it’s a specialty dish. My daughter loves noodles but she can’t have that spicy taste and she likes chicken nuggets and the toy that go with the kids meal too ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, Toronto rocks when it comes to Chinese or multi cultural food for that matter. We have 5 “Chinatowns” here, have the largest Chinese mall in North America and many Chinese folks tell me that is cheaper to dine on Chinese food here than in Hongkong ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Abaniko – absolutely right. As long as one has the money and guts to go under the knife, it’s his/her call. There is an impending danger though that as these procedures become cheaper and within reach of the average person and not being regulated by governments as in the cases of medical tourism, it could be a problem . I dread to see the day when people go to their doctor and say ” Doc, I want my nose to look like that guy’s nose ” ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  12. MyePinoy – bwahaha ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s a hilarious joke bro. :mrgreen:

    Reminds me of a joke about two guys who had a ting-aling-ding-dong transplant. One guy complained he was unhappy with the procedure and when his buddy looked it his ting-aling he quipped ” holy s*** , they gave you mine! ๐Ÿ˜†

  13. Panaderos – totally agree with you in the case of medical necessity. In fact the origins of height augmentation was to cure dwarfism on people who are afflicted by it. If people go for it for reasons of employment then no one can chastise them for being vain I guess ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    I’m a noodle fanatic and love the hot pot too ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Mybrazildoc – first of all, thanks for the visit and sharing your first hand experience. It is most appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

    It does look like your surgery was a “medical necessity” as indicated by an earlier poster’s comment. For this there is no reason why you should be criticized for going for the enhancement.

    The reason why I included that man’s comment on the radio talk show was to elucidate the simplicity of making decisions for some people and to underscore the flip side of the coin, with vanity being on the other. Vanity as they say ” keeps persons in favor with themselves who are out of favor with all others”. Writer Jane Austen even said it better ” A person maybe proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves,vanity to what we would have others think of us”. It is also said and this is not being sexist by any means, that women dress up to show off to their fellow women more than men ๐Ÿ˜‰

    In truth, vanity is a human frailty and intrinsic in our being and likewise a societal malaise as the result of human beings competing with each other in all walks of life. The intent of my post isn’t to question nor chastise the motivation for people who go for plastic surgeries and all sorts of augmentation but just to simply muse on the possiblity of these procedures being too accessible and affordable in the future and the underlying dangers and social stigma associated with it.

    Thanks for dropping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Wil – I heard of those tragic accidents and that’s one of the concerns of many people nowadays. Again, these doctors cannot be sued because patients sign waivers prior to the operation accepting the risk associated with it. It’s really their call and I’m not going to hang anyone when I hear these news.

    On one hand the government of Canada is now contemplating of including sex change in our universal health care program. Now this one would be opening a huge can of worms in my opinion ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Sure, I bet there would be one in the Bay Area with the large no of Asian commnunities there ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Leah – Yes, I see lots of them nowadays but not covered by OHIP unfortunately. Minor alterations are just fine in my opinion – but major transformations are quite scary ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  17. At one point, there were murmurs going around the corporate corridors of NYC that those “pleasing to the eyes” were getting promoted much faster than their aesthetically-challenged colleagues. I don’t know. I guess, if one has the money to spend for it, why not? Worse is one has to beg, still or borrow just to afford some nick and tuck here and there.

    I kinda like Barbra Streisand’s attitude. She strived to become a much better artist than spend a penny on getting a nose job.

  18. A beauty contest for the surgically modified. Hmmm… would Michael jackson join this? hahaha

    I think it’s the doctors who should be awarded here more.

  19. Boob jobs are done at all ages nowadays. Even if I like to tweak my body a little, I can’t afford any of these things ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Love noodles too !

  20. nice post bw! the miss plastic surgery sounded odd but it’s already there. it’s happening. i’m sure we will have that here in the philippines soon (that i don’t wish will happen).

    about the height augmentation, i will never try to avail that even if i have the money. beyond the pain, there’s not enough reason why i need to be taller. i think it’s the pride that is coming out of their desire.

    the ajisen ramen part makes me very very hungry at this time. take note it’s already 12midnight.

  21. Height augmentation, whaaat????

  22. Eric – looks make a difference but nowadays when one perceives that looks is a criteria for not being promoted, people jump on their high horse to the HR dept and cry out discrimination ๐Ÿ˜ฆ THere’s many documented cases of women TV newscasters who cry foul when they are sidelined in favor of younger ones !

    I’ve also noticed that most TV weather women reporters are attractive. I wonder what the deal is – people get fed up with weather reports so good looking newscasters are a must ? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Barbara Streisand is something. She’s a full fledged diva loaded with tremendous talent. Her nose is what makes her Barbara Streisand in the first place ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Ferdz – yep, Michael Jackson would have been a winner ๐Ÿ™‚ I can say that the contest winner is a testament to a great human sculpting work so I’m not surprised people asking the winner – ” who did your body ?” THe doc will surely get a lot of phone calls ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Irrealis – that’s one of the big concerns – young people going under the knife to alter their bodies ! Boob jobs is just one – talk about steroids use in young men wanting to beef their bodies ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  25. Dong – the height augmentation documentary was pretty scary, with the person on wheelchair for months to heal the graft. Man, what a hassle to gain 3 inches of height ! Some people think it’s worth the aggravation ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Manila has tons of these noodle places man so I bet your hunger will be satisfied easily ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Ewok – yes my dear – unbelievable but true ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. reminds me of what my mom use to say, no pain no gain. dba? and there’s one more quote she use to say, something she got from tia carrere. hehehe! it goes like… beauty lasts five minutes or maybe longer if you have a good plastic surgeon. ok, dba? haaay, the extend of what people do for beauty. nakakaloka :mrgreen:

  28. Nell – no pain, no gain.. lol ๐Ÿ™‚ whatever happened to natural beauty? ๐Ÿ™‚ Just look at what we are doing to our bodies – diet pills, steroids, augmentations – it’s crazy ! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  29. Ms. Plastic Surgery Beauty Contest??? it sounds odd but we can’t do anything but believe. I’m sure somebody is planning to have it here in the Philippines. alam mo naman ang mga pinoy.

    I’m thankful that at least these things are irreversible so that at least it gives the people the risk and to really think about it before finally deciding it.

    I think there’s a lot of side effects on the height augmentation. Maybe you can’t play basketball for sometime.

    The Ajisen Ramen sounds so good.

  30. Dong – gosh, that contest will be like a freak show ๐Ÿ™‚

    THe thought of it being irreversible is pretty scary to me ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  31. medical tourism? men go to bangkok to become women. LOL.

  32. hay, some people are just so vain. they can’t accept what they see in the mirror.

  33. i know you mentioned that you don’t have the ‘need’ to change your looks, but if changing something in your body were free and painless and no chance of bad effects, what would you want changed? Haha!:D

  34. Jeff – really ? that would be total transformation instead of augmentation. Now that’s really scary ! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  35. Ipanema – strange how vanity grabs us and how differently each and everyone responds to it . It does appear though that the already beautiful are the ones likely to spend big bucks for enhancements ! Tsk, tsk – how ironic is that? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

  36. Barry – now that would be a genie-like scenario bro ๐Ÿ™‚ Imagine now pain, no risk, no money required, guarranteed results – what would I change ? Everything ! hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. Talking about human alteration, I once saw a woman who looked like Chuckie (remember your old blog ID photo? ) — no kidding. Her face was really scary to look at, but her body was great (great skin and all that).

    My dermatologist-brother said that she might have had a face lift operation that went wrong.


    Your food post made me hungry. Funny that you had to go to Wendy’s pa for your daughter’s kiddie meal fix.

  38. Jayred – looking like Chucky would have been the ultimate disaster hahaha ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, my daughter ocassionally tells my wife –
    ” can I have English food ?” when she really means no rice, no spoon and fork lol:)

  39. everything does sound scary hahahaha Seems like you wouldnt leave a trace of your old self ahahahah

  40. Barry – heck, if I change myself with genie-like results – I’d better look like one who could take Jessica Alba out to lunch LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. “Jayred – looking like Chucky would have been the ultimate disaster hahaha.”

    – Well, I actually felt sad for her. She really looked like a freak. People kept staring at her. She just pretended not to notice the stares at the post office.

    Her new face was beyond repair, my brother said.

  42. Jayred – talk about those who have been under the knife for more than once ! Seeing the procedure on TV, it’s quite scary ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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