Snip and tuck: young Chinese seek perfection

Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:34am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - When 21-year-old Michelle returns to university this fall, the math major from western Shanxi province will be sporting a new look, and not just because of her fashionable outfits.

Her father drove her six hours to Beijing earlier this month to the Qingmu Plastic Surgery Center, where he paid 6,000 yuan ($940) for surgery to give her double-fold eyelids -- a common attribute of Westerners that is increasingly popular in China.

She emerged from the half-hour operation ebullient in her clingy black top and stylish green miniskirt, despite swollen eyes behind oversized sunglasses.

"I wanted to look and feel better about myself," said Michelle, who declined to give her surname. "When the swelling goes down in a few days, my eyes will be bigger and more lovely."

A generation of Chinese young people is growing up better-looking than their parents, and it's not just good nutrition.

Plastic surgery is booming. The number of procedures hit 3 million in 2010, the Ministry of Health said, as the newly rich trade up not only handbags and phones, but also their looks.

They're starting early, too.

Students made up as much as 80 percent of plastic surgery patients in Beijing last summer, according to a study by the China Medical Treatment Orthopedics and Beauty Association.

"Parents want their daughters to be beautiful so they'll have an easier time finding a job or a husband," said Ding Xiaobang, a Beijing plastic surgeon, as he took a breather between consecutive breast augmentation surgeries.   Continued...