China’s plastic surgery market thrives

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.

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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.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

They must learn from Derek Zoolander (the world’s top Male Model and Superhero) who said:

“Did you ever think that maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really, ridiculously good looking?”

Clip of THE FUNNIEST moment in cinema in the past ten years, at:

http://youtube.com?v=HHizKph3Yk

August 31, 2006 @ 3:46 am | Comment

PS, typo error, here’s a correction of the above link:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HHizKph3yk

August 31, 2006 @ 3:49 am | Comment

PPS, DAMN IT, I’m still typing it wrong. Didn’t see the extra “dash.”

Now, HERE is the correct link:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=-HHizKph3yk

August 31, 2006 @ 3:52 am | Comment

PPPS, AGGGHH!

None of those links work. OK, try this one instead (same clip, different link):

http://youtube.com/watch?v=zy0-qFmfdHg

August 31, 2006 @ 5:34 pm | Comment

I’d imagine that the point has been raised before in these pages, and more eloquently than I can muster at this hour, but I feel obliged to point out the irony of this article being posted at the same time as the Shanghai Sexblogger v.s. Professor Zhang controversy still rages.
I’ve known a number of young ladies in Taipei who have had surgery in order to, in their own words, make themselves more “attractive.” These procedures generally consisted of surgery to the eyelids, making the nose “higher” and collagen to the lips… they seek to take on caucasian or, at least, foreign characteristics. Just as the young lady in this article does, I’ve heard young women describe what are characteristically East Asian facial features as what makes them ugly and needs to be changed.
I don’t pretend to understand all of the psychological complexities and outside influences that bear on this phenomena, but it seems to me that Professor Zhang’s rambling rages represent much the same self-hate that leads these girls to go under the knife. In one case, the insecurity leads to phony interviews with AIDS infected white women while in the other it results in unnatural facial features.

August 31, 2006 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

And the rub is what takes thousands of dollars and has numerous risks and complications attached to it is (in 99% of cases) no better than the effect of good makeup combined with a pair of kickass heels.

Girl would do better to prep for her bar exam.

And parents pimping plastic surgery to high school kids? Ick ick ick.

August 31, 2006 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

It sounds as if these women may not even believe they are that unattractive. They’re doing it in order to _get jobs_. To have _careers_. Not because they think they can’t get a date. And they are probably correct in recognizing that employers in China will pass over a qualified but average-looking candidate in favour of a surgically enhanced bim-babe who’ll look good to male clients while pouring coffee and answering the telephone. Which is even sadder, really.

September 1, 2006 @ 11:23 am | Comment

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