Open Democracy – The secret in their eyes: in Kyrgyzstan, plastic surgery is booming thanks to Instagram

Multimedia report published on Open Democracy’s website, on December 10th 2019. Photos : Clara Marchaud

In this Central Asian state, urban and social media-savvy women are increasingly turning to eye surgery for self-confidence.

Like other Kyrgyz women, Madina* has often dreamed of having deep-set eyes. After a few months pondering, the 57-year-old decided to fulfill her dream and signed up for a “blepharoplasty” procedure, or double eyelid surgery.

“I have been embarrassed about my eyes my whole life. Because of them, I don’t feel confident talking to people,” she told openDemocracy a few minutes before the procedure.

Madina hopes that, after 90 minutes under the knife, her eyes will look more “European” and “expressive”, boosting her self-confidence.

A popular procedure in Kazakhstan and South Korea for years, blepharoplasty consists of changing the eye shape by removing some of the skin around it and adding an upper eyelid crease to Asian eyes. In Kyrgyzstan, a traditionally Muslim country with a secular state, so-called “euro-eyelids” are booming, especially among younger women.

“When I was young, there were no such operations, but today it has become more accessible,” Madina explains. While there were only a few surgeons available at the beginning of the 2000s, their number has now jumped to around 25 in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, where Madina lives, making it easier for patients to change their look for a price ranging from 200 to 500 USD. On Instagram, by far the most popular social network in the country, a dozen clinics in Bishkek advertise their work with appealing before and after photos.

Read the end of the report on Open Democracy’s website.

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