Pressure to fit the dominant standard of beauty is not just a black problem. Asians grapple with demands to look less “ethnic,” as evidenced by Julie Chen’s recent admission.

The co-host of CBS’ “The Talk” revealed she got surgery to look “less Asian” and advance her career as an on-air anchor:

“My secret dates back to – my heart is racing – it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio,” Julie began.

She then set the scene by showing a clip of what a young Julie Chen looked like as a reporter at one of her first jobs and explaining how it was her dream to be a network news anchor some day.

“So, I asked my news director… over the holidays if anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in? And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.’ He said ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton? On top of that because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, you look disinterested and bored.’

“So, what am I supposed to say to my boss? I wanted to cry right then and there. It felt like a dagger in my heart, because all of my life I wanted to be a network anchor,” she continued.

A “big-time agent” then encouraged her to get the plastic surgery to look “less Asian” saying he wouldn’t represent her without it. She had the procedure done, and still grapples with her decision.

Admitting it divided her family, Chen says she often wondered: “Did I give into The Man?”

The truth is most minorities struggle with that question, on varying levels, daily. Chen’s career took off after her surgery but at a grave cost that for some, just isn’t worth it.

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  • IMO she looks like Margaret Cho in her younger photos.
    Did she sell out to the man? Sounds like she did.

  • WhatIThink

    What she means is that she wanted to remove the “negroid” or African features from her face, not that it makes her look less Asian as opposed to looking more appealing to Europeans, especially Anglos. A lot of people in China and other parts of Asia are doing this in order to fit in to the European dominated world of fashion and beauty, especially those in entertainment. But the fact is that many many Asians have features like those before photos, especially those from Burma which is in South Asia and has historically had more of the darker more African looking Asian populations.

    • That’s not surprising considering the fact that there is evidence of Africans trading with and living in Asia

  • Tina

    Between Sheryl and Julie there’s a lot of self hate on that stage. Julie’s real come up was marrying the boss. What a terrible example for young Asian women on all fronts.

  • Kacey

    Bullsh!t! She didn’t have all those surgeries (and by the “Before” and “After” photos, there were many surgeries) to look less Asian – she did them to make herself more conventionally pretty.

    Julie still looks very Asian, actually she looks like a fetishized version – her eyes are actually more almond-shaped and her cheek bones higher. She didn’t feel that she was pretty enough (perhaps she was told this outright by both producers and her agent) and that’s why she had the surgeries.

  • girl

    still looks asian to me! *shrugs*