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Beauty has an ugly side
By Tiffany Tan and Mei Jia
Nov 30 2010 8:51
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You You/China Daily
More Chinese are seeking out the surgeon's knife or a beautician's tools, to improve their looks.

For years Wang Ziwen contemplated having plastic surgery to make her jaw line fashionably narrow and her face smaller. The Beijinger finally decided against it a few days ago after hearing of the death of former Super Girl contestant Wang Bei during "facial bone-grinding surgery" in mid-November. Wang Bei, 24, is said to have gone under the knife in Wuhan, Hubei province, to jump-start her faltering showbiz career. "Wang Bei's death rang the warning bell for me," Wang Ziwen said in a tweet on her Sina Weibo micro blog. "It was frightening and I gave up the plan."

Denny Chen, a 27-year-old Beijing hairdresser, also dropped his plans for vision-correcting laser surgery because of the news.

"I'm afraid the same thing might happen to me, so I've decided to forget the surgery," he says.

It seems the aspiring singer Wang Bei has finally achieved the fame and influence that eluded her during her lifetime.

A survey on the reaction to Wang's death, conducted by Tencent, which runs China's most popular instant-messaging service, received more than 600,000 responses, as of press time Monday.

Forty-one percent of respondents expressed sorrow over her death, saying, "It's a pity she died at such a young age." Some 31 percent said she should have been more cautious and less vain, while 10 percent were enraged at the hospital that conducted the surgery. The remaining 18 percent were indifferent.

A common thread of online discussion is why someone considered beautiful was so dissatisfied with her looks. Some netizens said Wang was a victim of society's unrealistic ideal of beauty: double eyelids, an aquiline nose and the pointed chin typical of Western celebrities. Others said her death underscores the limits to which people will go to achieve fame and fortune.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) stepped in on Nov 27, calling on health authorities nationwide to step up supervision of the country's medical cosmetology industry. It also instructed the Hubei health department to investigate Wang's death and "to make the results of the investigation public as soon as possible".

Wang's death highlights the fact that cosmetic surgery has become one of China's biggest beauty secrets. Last year an estimated 15 billion yuan ($2.2 billion) was spent on cosmetic surgery and the figure is expected to rise 20 percent annually, a China Central Television report concluded.

Some 3 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures are done in the country annually, according to partial data from the Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics, under the MOH.

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