No pain; no beauty?

March 19, 2007 at 4:04 am Leave a comment

Flower - NicaraguaI have been working in Hong Kong over the last week and happened across an article in the Hong Kong paper, The Standard, on the rapidly rising popularity of plastic surgery in China. I just have to rant about the absurdity of this! a Mao-era taboo has come toppling down as Chinese women submit themselves to surgery in an effort to lead the pack in worshipping at the altar of beauty and perfection. Thirty years ago, China was locked into the Maoist era where “beauty” equaled drab austerity and modern luxuries were unknown.

A mere generation ago, the wealth necessary to pay for expensive liposuction or double eyelid techniques didn’t exist. But Western consumerist society now clearly holds China in its grasp too with the concept of “urban pretty man” or dushi yunan having arrived. Even men are spending their yuan on surgery or metrosexual grooming products. Global cosmetic companies are tripping over themselves in the rush to get their share of the 96 billion yuan being spent yearly on luxury cosmetic brands.

The quest for artificial beauty in China tells many disturbing stories: a 37 year old woman who voluntarily has her legs broken and painfully stretched 5cm so she can wear her elegant European trousers; an aspiring actress who endures 16 surgeries in pursuit of who knows what. Perhaps the most distressing trend is that taller people are seen to have better job prospects and employment ads sometimes state height requirements. So what will this new world of artificial beauty mean for the less than pretty, shorter Chinese woman I ask? or the “non-urban pretty man”?

Where did we all go wrong and start to compare ourselves against some external notion of beauty that pressures a person (usually female) to submit to being sliced and diced? it’s politically correct to state that we welcome and accept diversity but somehow the ongoing obsession and trend towards the homogeneous desire to be aesthetically pleasing seems to negate this.

Entry filed under: Rant.

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