A year ago, Marina Saidukova, a Buryat writer, said how devastating it was that one of her teachers told her that “you are so beautiful that you are almost a Russian,” something so offensive and damaging that she has never been able to forget it.
But now there is a truly disturbing development which suggests this racist view is metastasizing: Women who now live in Russia but who come from Central Asia are turning to plastic surgeons to make them look more like European Russians, in a development that Yevgeniya Keda calls “ethno-plastic surgery.”
Otari Gogiberidze, a plastic surgeon in Moscow, said that “international statistics really show that in recent times so-called ethnic blepharoplasty has become popular among plastic surgeries… In Russia,” this procedure which changes the shape of the nose or eyes, “also is enjoying demand, but it is done most often to fight aging,” he said.
In his clinic and in others like it in Moscow, many people from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and other republics of the Caucasus seek to “correct the shape of their noses.” The typical patient is a young woman between 18 and 25. People from other non-Russian areas seek to have the shape of their eyes changed, but he said he argues against that.
No one should deny anyone the right to pursue their own idea of beauty via plastic surgery or other means, but to the extent that it is not their own but rather someone else’s, that is a most unfortunate form of cultural oppression and one that should be opposed rather than dismissed as something that isn’t important.