Julie Chen Got Plastic Surgery To Look Less Asian Due To Racial Pressures

Julie Chen got plastic surgery to look less Asian after blatant racial pressures from her agent and co-workers jeopardized her success. I read this story this morning and was brought to tears because it is so effing depressing and obviously, Julie Chen isn’t the first or last Asian woman to experience this crap!

Julie explained what happened to her with grace and dignity.

“My secret dates back to — my heart is racing — it dates back to when I was 25 years old and I was working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio. So, I asked my news director … over the holidays if anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in? 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.'”

Sigh because white people can relate to everyone but Asians only relate to other Asians? And what about her eyes? It’s like he’s never met an Asian person before.

“So, what am I supposed to say to my boss? I wanted to cry right then and there. It felt like a dagger in my heart, because all of my life I wanted to be a network anchor. I started recording my newscasts every day and all I could see was my eyes, and I’d ask myself, ‘Does he have a point?’ I’d always ask myself, ‘Do I look bored?'”

That’s how racism gets you the worse, it gets into your head and makes outside voices sound valid when they are not.

“So I started meeting with agents for career advice, and this one big-time agent basically told me the same thing. He had the biggest names in the business. And he told me the same thing. He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look better.’ He then whips out a list of plastic surgeons who have done this procedure.

Julie Chen consulted her parents on the matter who were, of course, wary about their daughter, but eventually they just wanted her to be happy.

“And this agent — he represented the most famous Asian broadcaster out there at the time — you know who I’m talking about and I’m not going to say names. So, this divided my family. Eventually, my mom said, ‘You wouldn’t have brought this up to me unless this was something that you wanted to do.’ And they told me that they’d support me, and they’d pay for it, and that they’d be there for me.”

She goes onto admit that after the surgery her career took off and she can’t help but feel as though her plastic surgery had a lot to do with it but Julie Chen isn’t placing all the blame on her racist co-workers, she knows it was ultimately her choice.

“And after I had it done, the ball did roll for me. And I wondered, did I give into the man? I have to live with every decision that I’ve made. And it got me to where we are today. And I’m not going to look back.”

It’s a hard decision that everyone faces. With every dream you have and every obstacle in front of it, how far are you willing to go or compromise to make your dreams come true? At the end of the day Julie Chen is still recognizable as an Asian American woman and having her in such a position of power elevates other Asian American women but “white washing” her features isn’t exactly something to look up to either. It’s a tough situation and I have a lot of empathy for anyone in it.

Props to Julie Chen for sharing her story on The Talk Tells All.



  1. Nadine says:

    this is just really cruel, another one of those you have to be perfect to appear in front of camera stereotypes

    1. sjules1 says:

      I don't think its about being perfect, I think its more about race, and how we identified in the past. They didn't tell her she was ugly, but that she appeared too Asian. She admitted herself that it was her decision, in my opinion she succumbed to the pressures of a racist industry instead of fighting against it.

    2. Ceener says:

      If she "fought against it" would she have become famous enough for us to even give her the time of day? Would she share this story and would we listen to her?
      I don't think there was a "correct" choice in this situation. We should respect her decision, especially since many Asians undergo plastic surgery without even being conscious of the fact that their features become more Westernized. But what can you say? Big eyes, higher nose seem to be universal standards of beauty these days. Is this because of the great amount of Western influence? Or did Westerners just happen to have these features? Chicken or the egg. A whole nother can of worms.
      And contrary to popular belief, many (if not most) Asian women undergo procedures with no intent of becoming more Westernized. But outsiders only see that these features are more common in white people so they point and saym "Oh look they want to be like us." Then comes the stones for being fake, weak and succumbing to pressure. It's a lose-lose game for anyone who doesn't look white.

  2. Chelle says:

    That's awful that they spoke to her like that. Yet another example of discriminating against people for things they didn't choose. No one chooses to be of a certain race; it's not their fault. No one should be discriminated against or have opportunities taken from them just because of their race – or any other feature or characteristic that they didn't choose or have no control over.

  3. That is a terrible state of affairs, to have to resort to surgery. The upside she looks fantastic!

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