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During a segment in which the CBS talk show hosts reveal their “shocking secrets,” Chen, who is married to CBS chief Les Moonves, acknowledged that workplace racism led her to develop deep insecurities about her looks at 25-years-old. Showing a side-by-side headshot of herself before and after surgery, Chen recalled being told that her looks would prevent her from furthering her career.
While working as a local news reporter in Dayton, Ohio, Chen’s boss allegedly told her that she would never sit at the anchor desk due to her Chinese heritage. ” ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton?’ ” she recalled him saying. ” ‘On top of that, because of your Asian eyes, sometimes I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera and you’re interviewing someone, you look disinterested. You look bored.’ ”
Chen said the statement “felt like a dagger in my heart.”
The same sentiment was echoed by a “big-time agent,” Chen said, whom she had sought out in an attempt to further her career.
“He said, ‘I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look bigger,’ ” she relayed. “He then whips out a list of plastic surgeons who have done this surgery.”
After discussing her options with her family, Chen ultimately decided to follow through with the procedure.
“After I had that done, the ball did roll for me,” the 43-year-old acknowledged. “I struggle with, ‘Wow, did I give in to the man and do this?’ “
Receiving support from her co-panelists, Chen said: “I don’t like to live with regret. I did it, I moved on. No one’s more proud of being Chinese than I am, and I have to live with the decisions I’ve made, every decision I’ve made — it got to where we are today. “
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