According to the AFP (25 January 2013), people in Thailand are undergoing more and riskier plastic surgery because “they seek to recreate the surgically enhanced, doll-like appeal of their K-pop idols.”

Be that as it may, I really don’t think anyone can blame the Korean wave for this increase of vanity on the part of the Thais.  There has always been an effort – at least in the past couple of decades – to appear whiter. I remember many years ago while visiting Thailand that I should stay indoors during the daytime so as to keep my complexion white (considering I had just left the howling cold of winter and looked like a zombie – keeping my pasty white complexion was not on the top of my list).

Apparently, though, things have gone way too far:

Alarmingly high numbers of Thai men inject olive oil, beeswax, silicone and even paraffin into their genitals, in a misguided bid to enlarge their penises, according to one Bangkok urologist.

Skin lesions or serious infections are commonly the result, said Surat Kittisupaporn of the Police General Hospital, which sees up to 300 patients a month after botched penis treatments.

“The body reacts to the foreign substances. When there is chronic irritation or infection, it’ll be very hard to cure… it’ll be hard to even walk or take a shower,” he said, making surgery inevitable.

In the worst case, Surat was forced to remove a 50-year-old man’s genitals in November after he repeatedly injected olive oil into his penis.

In Korea I believe this is called the haebaragi (the sunflower) treatment – injecting silicon or whatnot into your small soldier so that he becomes thicker and more like a French tickler.

But it isn’t just the men:

A product promoter, or a so-called “pretty”, died in October when a gel-like filler meant to make her buttocks more shapely was injected into her bloodstream.

Her friend and fellow “pretty”, Nutchanunt Angkuttarothum, 25, said the tragedy had not deterred her from further surgery to add to a litany of procedures, including a nose job she has already undergone.

“We have to always take care of ourselves and look good, otherwise we wouldn’t look different from others”, she said after pouting for the cameras at a recent motorcycle launch event in Bangkok.

For women, the quest for bigger eyes, noses, breasts and bums is just one step in a wider bid to transform themselves.

Off-the-shelf skin whitening creams, including vaginal bleaching soaps, abound in the kingdom with many believing that a lighter skin reflects higher status and is more attractive to the opposite sex.

Vaginal bleaching soaps?  Gold, too, is used to enhance their bodies – not in the form of bling but as implants.

I like this closing quote:

“People don’t have to be white to be beautiful—good personality, having knowledge and other capacities are much more important,” Professor Suwirakorn said. “It’s better to have beauty from within.”