Big Brother 15 host Julie Chen is facing strong backlash from fans after admitting she had plastic surgery on her eyes after being told she looked too Asian to succeed as a television host. Julie, who is Chinese, talked about her decision to ‘Westernize’ her appearance on a ‘hidden secrets’ episode of The Talk last week. While she received a lot of vocal support for her decision to go under the knife to help her career, there was also a strong cry of outrage over Julie’s choice to tone down her Asian features with plastic surgery. She says, however, she was not trying to look “less Asian” by altering the shape of her eyes.
This season of Big Brother 2013 has been in the news constantly for featuring what many are calling the most racist, homophobic and misogynistic HouseGuests in the show’s history. Several HouseGuests, including final three contestants GinaMarie Zimmerman and Spencer Clawson, have been skewered in the press for making extremely racist statements.
For example, Ginamarie called welfare “n***er insurance” and made racist remarks about another HouseGuest’s 10-year-old son looking like a “f**king Spanish Puerto Rican little dirt f**king” kid. Spencer has praised Nazi doctors for their contributions to medicine and talked about his respect for Hitler’s great oratory skills. Another previously eliminated HouseGuest, Aaryn Gries, repeatedly insulted fellow Asian Big Brother 15 player Helen Kim with racist remarks, including saying she should “go make some rice” and pretending to squint and make “Asian” eyes.
Julie Chen confronted Aaryn about some of these statements in her exit interview with the contestant after she was eliminated. She has also talked about the racism in the Big Brother house this season repeatedly in the press. So it isn’t all that surprising that Julie should eventually start reminiscing about her own experiences in dealing with racism as an Asian woman working in television.
The Talk co-host confessed on the show last week that she had plastic surgery to change the shape of her eyes after being told by a news director that she would never be an anchor because she looked so Chinese. He also reportedly told her that her “Asian eyes” made her look disinterested and bored on camera because they were so small. After speaking to her family, Julie decided to have surgery to widen her eyes and look them look more like the Western ‘beauty’ standard. She said that after doing so, her career skyrocketed upward.
Julie Chen does not regret the decision to go under the knife to further her career and says she isn’t surprised at the “haters” out there who judge her for it. “What was hurtful,” she said, “was that the hateful comments that I read where people were judging me were people within my own community.”
Julie told People the decision to change her eyes had “nothing to do with denying my heritage” and her goal — despite everyone accusing her of it — was “never to look less Asian.” According to the Big Brother 15 host, the real goal “was simply to have bigger eyes so the camera didn’t make me look sleepy, bored, angry or disinterested in my videos.”