Japan is among the top four countries in the world for having the most plastic surgery procedures. A study revealed that many Japanese women feel “peer pressure or insolence from family and friends” to do plastic surgery. Unfortunately, children face that same pressure and get plastic surgery—like nine-year-old Micchi.
Rucchi is the mother of Micchi. Together, they’re a YouTube duo that uploads videos about makeup and plastic surgery. VICE Asia‘s Hanako met with them to learn more about Micchi’s plastic surgery at such a young age.
Despite being just nine years old, Micchi revealed why she wanted to get double eyelid surgery.
I was told that my eyes are narrow, so it looked like I was glaring at people. That’s why I wanted to have plastic surgery.
Micchi also praised those who did plastic surgery as beautiful. She said, “If you can endure the pain of plastic surgery, that makes you a beautiful person, in my opinion.”
Because plastic surgery is legal for minors in Japan with a parent’s consent, Rucchi allowed Micchi to get the surgery. Micchi went through the horror and pain of the anesthesia not working, turning a twenty-minute procedure into one over two hours long. While it seemed like Micchi’s wish to get plastic surgery, it stemmed from her mother’s trauma and Japan’s beauty standards.
Rucchi shared her own experiences of growing up with monolids and never receiving the same treatment as her family members who had double eyelids.
My mother and younger sister have amazing big eyes, while I had a monolid. Everyone thought my younger sister was much cuter than me.
Women in the neighborhood blatantly just called my sister cute and gave her sweets. I’ve never been told anything like that.
A girl needs double eyelids. I have never seen a girl with monolids who I thought was pretty.
Double eyelids are beautiful. Double eyelids are the beauty standard. I say this again and again.
Rucchi got double eyelid surgery when she turned eighteen and wished it had happened earlier.
That’s why she allowed Micchi to do the procedure at nine years old. Rucchi explained, “I didn’t want her to grow up with a complex about it; that was my main concern.”
Although plastic surgery can increase a child’s confidence, a professor of child psychology and body image revealed that negative effects arise later in life. Professor Tomohiro Suzuki explained the slippery slope of getting one procedure and changing it later to fit a newer idea of what you want yourself to look like. It can then spiral into getting multiple procedures whenever that ideal changes.
For example, you might have a more ambiguous idea of your ideal image.
So even if you have plastic surgery done to get closer to your ideal image, that image might change again over time and you’ll need surgery again to get you closer to that new image.
Then you are trapped in a loop, unable to stop getting plastic surgery.
— Tomohiro Suzuki
That’s exactly what happened to plastic surgery influencer and YouTuber Nonoka Sakurai, who wanted to get plastic surgery at eight years old because she was bullied at school. She later got a nose job at eighteen years old after years of being bullied but has undergone over a hundred plastic surgery procedures to keep up with Japan’s beauty standards.
My nickname in elementary school was ‘Gorilla.’ Actually, my real name is Rie. So they combined ‘Rie’ with ‘Gorilla,’ and the result was ‘Gorie.’
I didn’t like that at all. So that was when I decided to have a nose job.
— Nonoka Sakurai
Tomohiro Suzuki’s analysis proved true once more. Although nine-year-old Micchi just got double eyelid surgery, her mother Rucchi was already planning to encourage her daughter to get a nose job next and breast surgery when she fully developed.
In general, I leave it up to them. Just the nose. I’d want her to get a nose job.
Maybe the breasts as well. She is still growing though, so we don’t know how big they will get.
See the effects of Japan’s beauty standards on Micchi, Rucchi, and other Japanese women here.