Julie Chen, co-host of CBS' The Talk, spoke of her struggle with Asian racism and how plastic surgery shaped the early part of her career on this week's revelations theme of shows.
Wanting to make the leap from a field reporter to anchor desk when she was just 25, Chen asked her news director about filling in when the anchors were off.
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.'"
This brought back the insecurities of a child as she explained how kids would make "ching chong" comments on the bus. "It was racism," the 43-year-old said.
With a wall rising against her dream, Chen sought career advice from a "big-time" agent who echoed her news director. "I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger," she recounted … "But the agent said, 'You're good at what you do. And if you get this plastic surgery done, you're going straight to the top.'"
She explained how half of all Asians are born with a double eyelid.
This led her to have Asian blepharoplasty. The blepharoplasty procedure, also known as double eyelid surgery, is designed to reshape and lift the skin around the eyes to create a more wide-eyed appearance. A plastic surgeon would use either an incisional technique or a non-incisional suture technique to lift up the skin around the eye area and remove excess skin as needed.
According the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, blepharoplasty is the most common form of a facial cosmetic procedure for Asian Americans and costs around $3,000.
After some debate, her family did support her and even paid for the blepharoplasty surgery. "And after I had it done, the ball did roll for me," she said about her career.
After showing a before and after photo, her follow co-hosts and Chen spoke about the blepharoplasty outcomes:
"Eyes are bigger."
"Look more alert."
"I think you were beautiful then and you're beautiful now," co-host Sara Gilbert added.
While Asian racism was at the root of her decision to have plastic surgery as she explained it, she doesn't seem to regret it as it helped her become the person she is today.
"I have to live with every decision that I've made," Chen concluded. "And it got me to where we are today. And I'm not going to look back."
Photo of Julie Chen and Less Moonves via Wikimedia Commons