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where offline desires become online realities

In places like china mostly, but South Korea and Japan, too social media and actual cosmetic surgery are enabling women to change their face and lives. In such societies, “there are no ugly women, only lazy ones”.

Cosmetic surgery has increased exponentially in China: the medical procedure has been transformed into a consumer product no thanks to the plethora of ads that show what beauty is or should be. Women feel empowered when they can change their face, body and life. Of the more than 140 million potential cosmetic surgery customers in 2014, 1 out of every 1000 faces has undergone either major or minor surgical treatment and 2 out of every 1000 have considered going under the knife [see Oiwan lam Nytimes 21 oct 2015 ” how social media fuels china’s growing love of cosmetic surgery” ] .

We might ask how such outer or outward changes can change the inner life or self in a culture which prizes Confucius’ teachings that spiritual upbringing is more important than looks. But the young Chinese feel that looks can determine their fate, and so they tweak their looks to have a more beautiful life.

The reigning obsession among the young in China is a younger, more beautiful self. Chinese don’t care whether it is artificial or natural as long as they’re happy. Soyoung.com is a website, established in 2013, dedicated to selling services to enhance beauty. “Young people have an open mind for plastic surgery, especially the post 90s generation who account for more than half of the users who have shared their experiences on the site, boasts the founder of soyoung- Jin Xing.  Soyoung is an online diary which allows people to upload their photos and share their surgical experience. It connects both domestic and international doctors and hospitals directly with their clients and enables users to have online dialog and make appointments. In just 2 years, soyoung has accumulated more than 600,000 registered users and facilitated 2000 cosmetic surgery facilities in reaching out to clients. There are at least a dozen other platforms that help the industry to promote their medical services.

No longer is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but the person beholden; she who desires white skin, double eyelids, tall and straight nose, oval shaped face, big breasts, long and slim legs. Mobile apps give young Chinese and Japanese girls the immediate gratification to see themselves transform into their desired looks. The beauty industry is pushing women to make surgical changes to be beautiful. So strong is the drive to surgically transform that botched up surgeries are suppressed: the cosmetic surgery industry aggressively uses social media to suppress complaints on botched up procedures and creates a herd mentality among potential clients.

In a country where reviews are everything, from Yelp to Google to Amazon to now doctors in America, it is odd to see that the Chinese beauty industry has managed to convince clients who had surgical errors to forget the potential risks and instead they announce that such stories are malicious rumors spread by competitors. Without reviews we shy away from buying or using services in USA. But in China, the client participate in a social media Q&A and is flooded with lots of positive comments which make her excited and ready to embrace surgery. what’s worse is that the women who had botched up errors aren’t willing to share their botched up story, because Chinese society has no sympathy for them.

The imbalance of info reflects the adverse effects of China’s current internet governing policies which encourage the growth of online businesses while suppressing the development of virtual communities and especially those dedicated to feminist consumer and individual rights issues. It affects women’s ability to know and to speak out. One blogger’s comment shows the prevailing mentality of women when she writes:

“I don’t have sympathy for people who fall for these ‘super cheap’ schemes. ok plastic surgeons aren’t as qualified as real surgeons, but it still takes a lot of hard work and training to do it, if people are being cheapskates about it and trying to save money by using dodgy surgeons then they are hurting the honest ones who learn how to do it properly and are good at it.”

The writer isn’t against cosmetic surgery, but only against bad cosmetic surgery. In a country where there’s limited access to necessary info, soyoung is able to fill the void easily and provide answers to prospective clients. it makes women feel empowered by giving them choices: to choose a doctor they like, a hospital they like, prices they like and even operation items they like. But they cannot choose not to conform to all looking alike nor to reality. They all want to fit in, not stand out.

But women everywhere fall victim to such myths about beauty. Americans invest to get bigger breasts, Angelina Jolie or Kim kardashian type lips, tummy tucks and wrinkles removals. Brazilians like bigger bottoms and tummy tucks, too. Europeans do nose jobs as well as Iranian women, who actually stand #1 now in surgery. They even leave the bandage on their nose for months to make sure everybody knows they’ve done a nose job. Jamaican and Indian women strive to be white and whiten their skin. some even bleach their skin endangering their health. Many years ago a dear friend told me that every young person in Argentina [her home country] does rhinoplasty and have a ‘shrink’ even though the country has been, and still is, in dire economic straits.

I notice in the articles and youtube vids and blogs I sourced, that it is mostly women who comment. Men are missing. It would be nice if men would comment on these procedures because perhaps their comments could save women time, effort, and money since such enhancements are done to please men. These women who transform only their outer selves are setting up their future children for major disappointment. They’re creating illusions that will disillusion their children in the next generation.


5 Comments

  1. Rhett says:

    This trend of Asian women electing to have cosmetic surgery with the goal of more closely conforming to the Nordic model of physical beauty is not new but it is growing and it is particularly interesting when viewed in the context of what I call the Two Chinas phenomenon. There are 1.2 billion Chinese. About 900 million (75%) of Chinese live in rural inland China, far from the glittering towers of Shanghai and Hong Kong.Their lives are simple struggles for survival, as was the case for their ancestors going back a thousand generations. Another 300 million or so Chinese live in the New China, the China of big cities along the coast. These Chinese are middle class consumers in the American style. They have discretionary income. They own Apple products as status symbols as much as for their practical use. They are “plugged in” via the internet (to the extent that it is regulated) to Western media and culture. This trend of “Westernizing” their physical appearance is, needless to say, an phenomenon exclusive to these urban elite Chinese. In this sense, the Two Chinas are growing even further apart, not just economically and socially, but also in terms of actual physical appearance! It would seem that many young, wealthy coastal Chinese are so enamored with becoming Western that they are not satisfied to limit the transformation to their clothes, accessories, or language. Now, some want to extend the metamorphosis to their faces and bodies. Another chapter in the Tale of 2 Chinas.

    • great wall of disaster and sadness! gone is the wise confucian philosophy of the person inside, and welcome to the instragrammed person! Confucius said “by three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest”. today’s moneyed Chinese is truly learning by imitation to an impossible notion of beauty, which will become a bitter reality later. Japanese are doing the same.

    • it seems that Chinese and Japanese are going to Korea for surgery.<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9eLe-rxOSlg&quot; frameborder

  2. Rhett says:

    It is moderately depressing that so many women around the world, East and West alike, feel such pressure to conform to increasingly onerous physical standards of beauty. Fear of rejection, by friends or lovers or even strangers…this psychological hold needs to be broken, starting with our girls. I admit that, as a man, my understanding of this social pressure is limited, but my sympathy is with all girls and all women who wish to transform the lady in the mirror into the lady in the magazine, and who won’t be satisfied with their bodies until they have.

    Girls, take it from a man: any man who won’t be “satisfied” with you until you make changes, is not a man worth making changes for.

    [From Above]
    “I notice in the articles and youtube vids and blogs I sourced, that it is mostly women who comment. Men are missing. It would be nice if men would comment on these procedures because perhaps their comments could save women time, effort, and money since such enhancements are done to please men.”

    Voila! Je sers! : )

    • YOU GOT MY VOTE! when i was younger i, too, felt pressure to conform to the majority. i’d like to tell my girls – via teaching film and even grammar – that the torture to be someone else ain’t worth it. that’ll be my grammar of beauty.

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