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Julie Chen’s secret: Eyelid surgery to "look less Chinese"

Television host Julie Chen arrives for a special screening of CBS’ new comedies during a celebration of National TV Dinner Day, in Los Angeles, Sept. 10, 2013.

GUS RUELAS/REUTERS

"Did I give in to the man?"

That's what TV talk show host Julie Chen hypothetically pondered after revealing she underwent plastic surgery to "look less Chinese."

As part of the season opening week of The Talk , Chen revealed that years ago, she had her eyelids altered after a news director said Chen would never make the anchor desk.

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Chen recounted on the show that the director had said, "'because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I've noticed when you're on camera and you're interviewing someone, you look disinterested, you look bored.'"

She said the decision to have plastic surgery divided those closest to her – " if it would be denying my heritage," some had thought. "Members of my family wanted to disown me if I got it done."

Sure, it was an emotional revelation, and Chen certainly wouldn't be the first woman to undergo dramatic measures to look less Asian (look no further than this Japanese skin bleach ) – but does caving to the racism make her part of the problem?

The long-time journalist says she has no regrets: "Every decision I've made … it got [me] to where we are today, and I'm not going to look back."

She showed the before and after photos on the show, while co-host Sharon Osborne, ever the expert on appearances, squealed "fabulous!" and Sheryl Underwood chimed in: "More expressive."

Ugh. At best the hosts inferred it wasn't a bad choice, at worst they're agreeing with the news director.

Afterward, Chen took to Twitter to thank her fans for "all the love" – and by and large, people seem less than surprised.

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This reaction from the aptly-named @angryasianman pretty much sums up the sentiment: "Did I give into The Man?" Yes, Julie. You kind of did. But thank you for your honesty."

What is perhaps the most disheartening of all: This "deep dark secret" was all part of a planned, confessional week where each host reveals a secret on The Talk (a show I didn't know existed, let alone entering its fourth season).

This promotional photo somehow exponentially boosts the uncomfortable factor.

An honest confession? Absolutely. A poor choice? Probably. A tacky ratings boost? Yikes.

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Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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