China’s Emerging Cosmetic Surgery Trends

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Thirty years ago, China had virtually no cosmetic surgery. Now, however, as CNN reports, it claims to be a groundbreaker in the practice. But instead of requesting the physical ideals of the Western world, where modern plastic surgery was born, patients are asking for improvements that are consistent with China’s centuries-old beauty ideals.

Hollywood-inspired surgical choices gained popularity in China a decade ago, with women frequently opting to create a more Caucasian-looking eyelid. Today, however, both surgeons and patients are embracing Asian beauty. On a Chinese makeover show called Lovely Cinderella, candidates say they want to look like actress Maggie Cheung (above), former Miss Hong Kong Li Jiaxin, and South Korean soap opera star Kim Heesun.

And where Chinese men once never bothered with cosmetic improvements, some now find themselves called dushi yunan-a Mandarin term literally meaning “urban pretty man,” or metrosexual. An estimated 10% of China’s cosmetic surgery patients are men.

Half a century ago, most in China were fully dedicated to the revolution and to the communist cause, and wearing makeup was cause for harsh criticism. When one Lovely Cinderella participant was asked what Mao Zedong would think of the show, she answered, “How can I answer that? I think that people today, with their more liberal ways of thinking, are at a place where if someone has an opportunity to change their life and become more confident, then everyone would want to support that.”

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