A more beautiful life? TV show gets Chinese talking about plastic surgery

As more people go under the knife in the country, discussion of ‘complete vs natural beauty’ fuels debate on social media

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2018, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 11:19am

A discussion about plastic surgery on a popular Chinese variety show has fuelled debate on social media over the booming demand for procedures on the mainland.

With the theme of “complete beauty vs natural beauty”, the Can’t Say show invited Wu Xiaochen, a woman who has been having cosmetic surgery for 15 years, to talk about the issue with Wang Nuonu, who has not had any, news website Sohu reported.

More people are going under the knife in China as incomes rise and Western influences grow. The country accounted for 13 per cent of cosmetic surgery worldwide in 2016, making it the third biggest for number of procedures, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

It said the number of cosmetic surgery procedures had grown from 2.7 million in 2009 to 4.8 million in 2013. This year, that figure is expected to reach 10.2 million.

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On social media, debate has been raging over the craze since the variety show aired two weeks ago, with some accusing those who have surgery of being superficial, false and their faces “plastic”, The Beijing News reported on Wednesday.

Others believe it is a reflection of problems in society. “We can only say that the world has a lot of hostility towards ugliness that it puts a girl through all of this,” one person wrote on Sina News on Thursday.

Another said natural beauty was the real beauty, supporting Wang, who has a master’s from Cambridge University and argued on the show against facial surgery and such an emphasis on appearance.

The most popular comment read: “Impressing others with your beauty will not work for long.”

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But many people have also said they admired Wu for being outspoken about modern beauty, according to the report.

“The ‘complete beauty’ has the courage to speak the truth, and does so in a comparatively straightforward way,” one online commenter wrote.

The positive comments took Wu by surprise, the report said. “I’ve never heard people putting my appearance aside and discussing my character before,” she was quoted as saying.

“I told my story on the show because I don’t want people to get cosmetic surgery done in their teens like I did,” said Wu, who is now 29.

“They must think rationally about changing their beauty. Plastic surgery may give extra points to my outer appearance, but it does not make my life more beautiful.”

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Wu first went under the knife for a facelift when she was just 14 and has since had around 100 procedures, the newspaper said.

The cosmetic surgery has cost her some 4 million yuan (US$623,000), funded mainly by her parents, and she has experienced numerous complications and infections as a result of the procedures.

“With the increasing popularity of plastic surgery, people can enjoy being beautiful – but the risks are rarely mentioned,” she said, adding that despite this she would continue to have surgery in “pursuit of perfection”.