“There is a popular saying: ‘Only a beautiful person can enjoy youth.’ I don’t totally agree with it. It’s not just youth: The whole world belongs to people who are better looking,” said Sun Yibing 孙一冰 to the judges of a TV dating show (in Chinese). She has undergone 13 plastic surgery procedures since she was 17.
Sun compared her life before and after surgery and recounted her painful childhood of being mistreated due to her “ugly” appearance. “For example,” she continued, “when I was in middle school, all the boys in my class were playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. The loser was forced to confess his love to me,” Sun said in tears. But after plastic surgery, she explained, her life became much brighter, and many people complimented her on her good looks. She now has a boyfriend, whom she noted wouldn’t even have looked at her before she changed her appearance. “Even though my life is fake, so what?” she said.
Her speech went viral on Chinese social media platform Weibo (in Chinese), generating more than 15 million views in less than a day. Many internet users expressed sympathy for her, and some agreed that society indeed overly values a person’s appearance. “No doubt, this world is not that tolerant to people who are less beautiful. Reality prefers people who are better looking,” one commenter said. Another stated, “I think the speech is very inspiring. It’s not wrong for people to pursue beauty. However, there are many beautiful appearances out there, but very few also are beautiful inside. Appearance is important. But if a person who is good-looking does something ugly, it’s just like the saying ‘All that glitters is not gold.’” Still another person said, “It’s terrifying to live in a society that only values a person according to their appearance.”
The plastic surgery industry is booming in China. According to the 2016 Cosmetic Surgery White Paper published by Gengmei, a cosmetic surgery app with more than 15 million Chinese users, the number of customers aged under 25 and over 35 increased from 31 percent to 39 percent. Male customers accounted for 21 percent in 2016, up 4 percent from the previous year. HSBC expects China’s cosmetic surgery industry to double in market size by 2019, reaching $116.3 billion and making the nation the world’s third largest following the U.S. and Japan.
Some people undergo plastic surgery in order to land a job. Sina reported (in Chinese) that a woman who interviewed for a waiter position at an entertainment club was told she wasn’t pretty enough for the job. Then, she was taken to a clinic by the club for a plastic surgery procedure, which cost about 60,000 yuan ($8,500) that she borrowed. However, even after surgery, the club still refused to hire her because of her appearance.
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