Is it all just about image?
A Ukrainian woman created a sensation this week when photos of her Barbie-like similarities went viral. Twenty-one-year-old Valeria Lukyanova is a living doll, as in, a mirror image of Barbie, that American icon.
It apparently took a lot of plastic surgery for Lukyanova to look like the plastic girl that is Barbie, but Lukyanova denies having had surgery. (There is some speculation that this is all a fake.) Some of the photos are pretty scary actually, and it makes one wonder what has caused this not-only-in-America beauty standard. As we’ll see, significant numbers of women around the globe have decided they must alter their appearance, in some cases drastically, to fit into that blonde/blue-eyed/hour-glass image that Barbie portrays.
That’s a lot of Barbies!
Forbes magazine did a report in 2009 which found that there are 1 BILLION Barbie dolls “alive” in the world since she was “born” in 1959. And, Forbes also found, the sales growth figures are mind-boggling: 300,000 were sold in 1959; 94.5 million in 2008. That’s a lot of Barbies! Of course, the very existence of Barbie has been controversial for years, decades really, especially since the Betty Friedan era. It is NOT P.C. to own a Barbie.
(A little confession here: I broke down and bought not just one but too many Barbies for my daughter; she was completely captivated by the creature after being given one when she turned 3. She used to play with them for HOURS.)
Asia is the place for plastics
Just what is the draw of these bizarre plastic things? Perfection, probably. And, women around the world spend millions on “improving” their looks. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery did a survey of doctors worldwide in 2010. The country with the most plastic surgery procedures, by percentage of population? South Korea.
The survey includes some other fascinating factoids. The continent with the most plastic surgery procedures? Asia, followed by North America and Europe. The highest number of procedures? Lipoplasty (fat removal), followed by breast augmentation (we assume Ukraine Barbie was included in THAT statistic). As for money – yikes! We’re talking lots of moolah. In the U.S., the average surgeon’s fee for a facelift, the most costly procedure, was $5,526, the survey found. No. 2 was abdominoplasty (tummy tucks), at $4,150, and No. 3, interestingly, was breast REDUCTION at $3,924. (Note to Valeria: maybe you went in the wrong direction.) Breast augmentation cost an average of $3,450.
From ‘beefcake’ to … beef
Mad cow disease has reared its big, ugly, beefy head in the U.S. once again. The first case was discovered in 2003. A California dairy cow was euthanized this week after it was determined to be suffering from the highly contagious bovine spongiform encephalophy, a viral disease that attacks the brain. The cow was in Tulare County, the nation’s No. 1 dairy-producing county. (Not Wisconsin? Huh.) It was the fourth-ever documented case of mad cow in the U.S., according to the Associated Press. U.S. health officials insist there is no risk to the food supply and that it was an isolated incident.
Authorities believe the debilitating disease originally started in Britain in the mid-1980s. More than 18,000 cows there have been infected and more than 4 million cattle have been slaughtered in the ongoing battle to contain the disease. A major concern stems from the fact that the virus has been transmitted to humans who eat infected meat. Health officials in Britain estimate that about 200 people have died of the disease, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, up to 2009, the Guardian newspaper reports.
Candlelight vigil in South Korea
Back to South Korea – mad cow disease has been a huge concern on the Korean Peninsula in recent years after the disease surfaced in rural cattle farms there. Opposition politicians this week tried to whip up anti-U.S. sentiment (officials believe mad cow was introduced from the U.S.) over the California case, according to Korea JoongAng Daily, an English-language newspaper. The politicians called on the government to immediately suspend imports of beef from the U.S., which is unlikely to happen. A candlelight vigil is planned in protest on May 2 at the Seoul City Hall.
Along with South Korea, major export markets for U.S. beef include Japan, Canada and the European Union. South Korea, incidentally, is the largest importer of U.S. beef, according to JoongAng Daily. An outbreak of mad cow disease in 2010 led to the slaughter of millions of livestock in South Korea, causing a political crisis for President Lee Myung-bak.
From beef to bacon
A Labour MP got into big trouble this week after complaining about a Polish restaurant staffer in London who served him a “disappointing” bacon sandwich, according to the British publication The Independent. Barry Sheerman created a storm when he complained about the service at Victoria Station on his Twitter account: “Just had worst coffee and bacon bap … Why can’t Camden Food Co employ English staff?” Another Twitter user then accused him of xenophobia.
Can’t we have an English rant?
Sheerman defended himself: “We are all allowed a small English rant on St George’s day aren’t we?” But the Twitter response was: “Not in my books no, especially not if you are an MP.” Sheerman said in explantion that he was in a hurry. “The girl who served me couldn’t speak very good English. She got my order wrong and my change wrong – that’s what made me cross. I know she was from Eastern Europe but I don’t know if it was Lithuania or Poland.”
Lots of Poles who could be polarized
Sheerman is potentially irritating a lot of people in the UK. According to government statistics, between 2003 and 2010, the number of Polish people increased in the UK from 75,000 to 532,000. And, according to the UCL, a Lithuanian group, there are more than 200,000 Lithuanians living in the UK.
We are left to wonder: would Sheerman have complained if a certain Eastern European who looks like a certain doll had been his server …