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.

  • http://DeAngelisFielder.wordpress.com Prettypoodle3

    She still looks very Asian to me.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    Not only did she give in to the man, she married the man. I’m not really care for her when I heard her bragging on “The Talk” how her husband had high position at CBS and that’s how she got her show. She still looks Asian but not as Asian as she did in the first picture which was the point of the surgery. I think it’s like that for many minorities to assimilate themselves so they can be successful when it comes to their careers.

  • Starla

    The surgery did her wonders, it actually brought symmetry to her face.

  • Marisa

    Forget the plastic surgery for a minute even though she still looks Asian as plain as day, how bout Julie Chen is in the all time come ups list. Ol girl was doing news and Big Brother hosting duties, and poof wifed up and popped out a baby for the head of the Network Les Moonves whose what damn near 75, lets reflect on that for a minute lol.

  • http://gravatar.com/ebony82 ebony82

    I bet it took a lot for her to share that. Although it must have been hurtful, at least she was honest instead of making up some ridiculous reason to have the surgery (i.e., saying one eye was bigger than the other). She looks good.

  • CAsweetface

    @geenababe I agree with you. I haven’t cared for her since the rumors of her having Holly Robinson and Leah Remini fired by her “big time exec” hubby came out because they were more popular than she was. She obviously has issues and having had those surgeries to look “less Asian” she couldn’t marry anybody other than a white man. Why would someone like that risk producing Asian looking offspring…side eye…

  • BeanBean

    Less asian??? This women looks 100% clearly Asian, you could tell she was Asian from across the street. It’s a shame that people feel like they need to change themselves to please ignorant people. I’ve always found that Koreans are the biggest self-haters on the planet. Most will do anything to make themselves look non-Asian.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    “Did I give into The Man?”

    Yes Julie, yes you did.

    Though it’s a fair to wonder if she would have had the career she has now without the surgery. Even with marrying Les Moonves–would he have been interested in her if she looked like her before picture?

    She’s the only one that can decide if getting those surgeries was worth it.

  • KG

    “Pressure to fit the dominant standard of beauty is not just a black problem.”

    This. I always hate reading or hearing blacks say that we are the only race who doesn’t like our features. It really is a minority problem that was created to due white colonization. You really think black people on their only ones who use bleaching cream. When I went to China, I swear there was bleaching cream in every store, even hardware stores. You’d be surprised how many other minorities share the same burdens as blacks.

  • Patti

    You are absolutely correct. I have always said this because I talk with other minorities about a variety of issues and skin color and features are discussed. It seems that the European standard of beauty is coveted.

  • http://leaveyourfeelingsatthedoor.tumblr.com/ Eden

    I actually don’t see anything wrong with it. I grew up a portion of my life in Hawaii so most of my friends had this procedure done so I must be use to it. I’m all for plastic surgery in moderation and if it’s something you truly want. I’m happy with how I look but wouldn’t rule it out when I get older and have had a couple of children of my own (I’ve seen the women in my family after childbirth, I don’t have a fighting chance in hell).

  • Brownie13

    She has no regrets? So she`s pretty much telling Asians and other minority girls who may want to pursue a career in journalism that they must change their God given features in order to be as successful as she is.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    White supremacy affects everyone…period! I am glad that Julie Chen opened up because her story isn’t a unique one especially among Asian women and other women of different races of wanting to fit in and looking a certain way to appease society at large and advance their position. Sure she still looks Asian but now she looks like the stereotypical ‘westernize” Asian of still looking “exotic enough’ but not overly so like in the original picture that is usually fawned over in society and by white men.

  • donnadara

    It looks like she had a nose job also.

  • Knowledge

    Other minorities face to same burden as blacks but to a certain degree…. we are generally totally opposite of the color/feature spectrum. not only that but other minorities uphold white standard of beauty and supremacy to the detriment of black people.If a chinese, latina indian arab women wants a successful white man because of white privilege, where does that leave black men? At the bottom

    If a chinese,indian arab latin man wants a white beauty like many do – where dose that leave black women? the bottom of choices.

    Black people always say My grandads/mom is white, indian chinese etc but you rarely here any of these groups who are miXed with black say my grandfather/mother is black.

  • http://gravatar.com/noirluv45 noirluv45

    Eden, I think Julie’s issue is more than having just plastic surgery. She’s Asian, and because some White man told her she wasn’t “relatable,” she changed her features. Women are doing this all over the world. Doesn’t that strike you as being a problem? The comment her boss made brings up a whole lotta things that many people of color endure.

    Why should anyone change who and what they are to appease some White man who doesn’t see that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Was this something she truly wanted? I doubt it. She did it in order to get the position as an anchor. Some people sell their souls to get what they want. Yes, it’s their choice, but the choice to change ones looks because someone else has a problem accepting it is, in my opinion, insane, and speaks to the brainwashing many people of color have.

    If we don’t see it for what it is, we will repeat it.

  • Angie

    She should have moved.

  • Cocochanel31

    WOW oprah was told the exact same thing, however I can’t tell if she had work done or just nose contouring with makeup.

    This woman looks nothing like her old self ! Sad world we live in!

  • Angie

    When we learn to have pride in ourselves, we won’t care about being on the bottom of anybody’s list, because they won’t be on ours. I know no other race is even on my list, so I don’t care that I am on the bottom of theirs. I don’t concern myself with those who don’t appreciate me and my culture. More people should think like this.

  • Nyk

    Makeup could’ve fixed that you know.

  • Nubiahbella

    at first, I thought she wwas talking about her nose job lol! On another note which sadden me the most is how in 2013, how white people are regarded as the standard of beauty across the world and how so many people still aspire too look like them.

  • Nyk

    I don’t think it would’ve made a difference. We all know the real reason she got the work done was due to conditioning and self-hatred. Smh. I hope she has found peace and self-love now.

  • Apple

    I saw a doc on this circa 2004 by MTV Suchin Pak, how after graduation Asians get “the surgery” to be more succesful in china and Korea , and how they were doing so many they had a drive thru center at the hospitals

  • GlowBelle

    Like that you pointed out that Black people aren’t the only ones who are told that what makes us unique is a problem in White supremacy’s eyes. Her transformation reminds me of Rita Hayworth’s and the crazy surgeries happening in Japan and Korea where they are widening their eyes and making everyone look like clones…very scary. I do appreciate Chen’s honesty about this, but she has some serious self-hatred issues going on that make her story sad and a downer for aspiring journalists. Sleeping your way to the top (I believe she had an affair and later married the man who is like a big hot shot at CBS…) and letting some man spew racist garbage at you to force you to get plastic surgery sounds like standard procedure to how to get anywhere these days, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure she got the gigs, a lot of people do when they do these kinds of things, and it looks like everything turned out fine for Chen…but that’s what we’re seeing on the outside. Make-up and plastic surgery can only cover up so much…

  • Winn

    And guess which one of Julie’s fellow panelists excused her behavior by saying, “You made a choice that was good for you and you have represented people, you’ve represented your race, you’ve represented women and your colleagues. Don’t look back.” I’ll help you: it wasn’t Sara, Sharon or Aisha.

  • Starla

    @Nyk..What I meant is that one eye looked larger than the other, and her nose seemed lopsided with one nostril looking larger than the other. It could very well be the angle of the photo, or the lighting. But there seems to be more balance in her face after the surgery. But she was still defintiely cute, now she looks Joan Collinsesque

  • joe

    There is actually a reason nearly 40% of Asian-American will marry a white man.

  • The Other Jess

    I don’t think she looks any less Asian – she still looks completely Asian, but she also does, however, look much much better.

  • http://thesweeterthejuice.tumbler.com Joy

    Her “secret”? That was no secret…look at the before and after. Lots of anchors do it. Asian and white I should say. Also, female meteorologists get boob jobs a lot here in the L.A. area.

  • sldoj

    yall do realize that looking “less asian” doesn’t equate to not looking asian at all? Obviously she still looks asian and was going to anyway. Some asians do make a big deal out of having bigger eyes to give a more alert look–so some say.

    I find it sad. I also noticed on the show how she kept trying to sell the whole asian heritage thing, like she really wanted the audience to believe that was her inner conflict. While that was an obvious reason, I also think her self esteem about her looks help aid her decision. Maybe she did feel like she was too asian looking, or just felt ugly (those eyes weren’t the only thing that changed) and those stupid bosses of hers just added fuel to the fire.

  • Pepper

    Duuuuuuuuuuuuh; Julie this isn’t a newsflash, or some big secret that was divulged. I think most people already knew (by looking at her) that she had eye surgery. Both Aisha, and Sheryl’s stories are more intriguing to me.

  • Cree

    I have experienced more racism from anti Black Asians (Koreans particularly) then I have form Whites in public. There is a reall love of White culture in Asian culture. They come here and hate us but marvel at white people. This is an example of that.

  • MommieDearest

    Yep. It’s pretty standard.

    I used to work with a Korean woman years go. She and I and a Chinese woman were working on project together. The Chinese woman had just had a baby girl, and she and the Korean woman were discussing when’s the best time for the baby to have eye surgery. I had never heard of such, so I asked the Korean WHY would the baby need eye surgery. She told me that Asians don’t have eyelids, and the surgery creates a fold so that Asian eyes can look like “everybody else’s.” She told me that she had the surgery when she was young. They were talking about this as if they were considering doing something as benign as changing hair color. I stood there dumbfounded. I wanted so badly to say “there’s nothing wrong with the eyes you were born with” but I wasn’t cool with her like THAT. I just discreetly picked my bottom lip up from the floor and changed the subject back to our project.

    Oh, and did I mention that both of them were married to white men? Yeah..

    BTW- I think Julie was pretty in her “before” picture. Her after picture is OK too, but in a “cookie cutter” way. *shrugs*

  • Downsouth Transplant

    @ Marissa, chiiiiillllllld, my thouhgts exactly why did she not just sleep with & Marry the news director back in the day, it good enough got her current position, obviously being less Asian did jack for her pssshhh have a seat lady..

  • http://gravatar.com/designdiva40 paintgurl40

    UGH Sheryl is such a minstrel!

  • http://gravatar.com/designdiva40 paintgurl40

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

  • victoria

    I agree.

  • 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.

  • Fantastico


  • kgo

    A lot of Asians have these surgeries not to look less Asian, but to make their features more delicate and attractive as an Asian. Remember the Beijing Olympics mini-scandal, where the little girl who sang a solo part in opening ceremonies. The girl who could really sing had more extreme Asian features, they didn’t want her on stage, so they picked a prettier little girl with “delicate” asian features, and that girl got to lip sync on stage while the less attractive girl who was a great singer had to sing from backstage or pre-recorded.

  • kgo

    Good comment, but if there was some surgery that could permanently straighten kinky afro hair, black women would be casually discussing when to have that done to their little girls, and your other friends would be listening with their mouths hanging open.

  • 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.

  • MommieDearest


    As much as I hate to think it, you are absolutely right. #thestruggleisreal

  • http://www.lillian-mae.com Knotty Natural

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

  • girl

    still looks asian to me! *shrugs*

  • http://luckynabatanz7e.blogspot.co.uk anm

    I couldn’t have said it better, I am soo fed up of blacks asking for acceptance from other. The only acceptance you need is the one you have for yourself!

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