How are ideals of beauty influenced by race, history, and geopolitics? With a rich selection of film clips and archival footage, Never Perfect examines the dramatic rise in popularity of cosmetic surgery among Asian-American women.
In 2006, there were 11 million cosmetic plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States, constituting an $11.4 billion industry. Most Asian women, in particular, experience acute cultural and social pressure to strive for extremely high standards of achievement and flawlessness. Among ethnic patients, the number of Asian-Americans seeking plastic and cosmetic surgery has risen 55% from 2004 to 2006.
Never Perfect follows the complex journey of a young Vietnamese-American woman – raised against a backdrop of American malls, movies, fashion magazines and makeover shows – as she struggles with her decision to undergo a cosmetic procedure known as double eyelid surgery.
In the process, this incisive documentary considers historical and contemporary examples of beauty, stereotypes and iconography within Asian and popular cultures in exploring the factors that influence body image and self-perception - as well as what it means to be an ever-evolving, multi-faceted woman living in today’s global society.
Directed by Regina Park
2007, 65 minutes
Purchase: $350 Classroom Rental: $95
* Silver Remi Award, Houston WorldFest International Film Festival, 2007
* Official Selection, American Psychological Association's annual national convention, 2007
* Official Selection, Asian Film Festival of Dallas, 2007
* Official Selection, DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, 2007
“Highly Recommended! This documentary would be suitable for women’s studies programs and Asian-American classes. It would be useful in discussing the perception of beauty and self esteem among young women, especially those with ethnic backgrounds. Technical aspects are very good. Archival materials are used at appropriate points to supplement insight into the self esteem issues with which many Asian-American women struggle. Video and audio qualities are very good. An appropriate musical backdrop enhances the film.” - Educational Media Reviews Online
“A fascinating documentary. At the center of Never Perfect lies a question of utmost importance, especially for those of us born and raised in diasporic centers: how are issues of personal choice and individuality (such as self-perception and self-identity) related to larger historical and geopolitical narratives of colonialism, imperialism, slavery, (forced) migration, and scientific racism? Though the question refutes any singular response, director Regina Park effectively portrays the struggles encountered not just in answering such a question, but also of having the courage to ask it in the first place.” - Feminist Review