Pushed on by their parents and under pressue to do whatever it takes to get a job, more and more Chinese students are going under the knife to have their faces scultped, eyes made bigger (with the coveted “extra eyelid”) and lips more plump. With the job market so brutal, first impressions have never mattered more in China, and there’s a “whatever it takes” attitude that is creating a boon for the country’s plastic surgeons.
Like a growing number of students in China, Pan Ou will spend her university vacation going under the knife in a plastic surgery procedure she hopes will boost her chances of getting a good job after graduation.
“I want to be more beautiful, to perfect myself,” Pan, a student at one of China’s most prestigious law schools, told Reuters in the waiting room of EverCare Xingfu hospital.
“My face is too big and flat, like all Asians. I would also like to make my nose higher,” said the attractive 23-year-old.
The EverCare in Beijing is one of thousands of plastic surgery clinics mushrooming across China with promises to make patients more beautiful, more successful and more marriageable.
With media reports of this year’s graduates taking jobs as cleaners and domestic helpers for rich families, it’s no wonder students and their parents are seeking an edge in looks, said Yang Chun, a 32-year-old TV anchor.
“Many parents fully support their kids getting these procedures, particularly high school kids going to university,” she said. “They’ll say ‘It’s a new environment, no one will know you. Why not enter it with confidence and a fresh, new outlook,” she said, speaking after receiving a collagen injection for her lips.
Interesting, how the reporter refers to the Pan Ou matter-of-factly as “attractive,” while she sees herself as something far different. To what extent is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?
I won’t make any judgments as to whether the frenzied rush for a new face is a good thing or a bad thing. All I know is that it’s a sad story on several levels, fueled by desperation and the sad fact that looks are everything.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.