Biz Unusual

Students go under knife for better prospects

By Li Wenfang and Wang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-24 13:52
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Guangzhou - Double eyelids, nose jobs, breast enlargements; that is what a growing number of Chinese college and high school students are looking for during the summer vacation after putting down their textbooks.

Students go under knife for better prospects
Two students take to the streets on Friday in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, trying to win a 150,000-yuan ($22,000) hospital fund for cosmetic surgery. [China Daily] 

Up to 80 percent of Beijing's plastic surgery market this summer consists of senior high school and college students hoping to improve their appearance and land better jobs, according to a study on the Beijing market by China Medical Treatment Orthopedics and Beauty Association.

That proportion is expected to hit 90 percent in the coming years, the association said.

Excessive employment pressures and higher beauty standards are the leading reasons for th

e popularity of the surgery, said a researcher called Xu who worked on the study.

"Students believe having a better appearance increases their employment chances amid the bleak job market," he said. "Better looks will boost their self-confidence, they think."

A doctor surnamed Zhong at Guangmei Cosmetic Surgery Hospital in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, explained student clients have been growing markedly since the start of the summer vacation.

Students go under knife for better prospects

A female college student is examined at Shiguang Cosmetic Surgery Hospital in Shanghai on June 27. [CFP] 

Many cosmetic surgeons in the city offer special packages for young people, he said.

The number of students visiting cosmetic surgery clinics during summer and winter vacations has been 10 times more than in school time in the last two years, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

Shenzhen Humanity Hospital received 30 student clients last summer, about 30 percent more than usual. That figure is expected to increase by 10 this year.

Many are from art schools. A dance major at Shenzhen University said 80 percent of her 50 classmates have gone under the knife.

Liu Chen (not her real name), a senior at Shenyang Normal University who is majoring in art, flew from Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, to Beijing to get breast implants at China-Japan Friendship Hospital.

"Once the operation is done I will be more confident, which is key for a successful job interview," she said. "I always want to wear bikini at the beach. I'm so happy."

Many students also want to copy their favorite celebrities, said Zhong at Guangmei Hospital.

Many parents, too, are now very open-minded and believe surgery can increase their children's confidence in a competitive job market, said a psychologist surnamed Weng at Shenzhen Kangning Hospital.

Young men are no longer shy in the practice either and account for 10 percent of the clients at Shenzhen Sun Hospital alone.

However, human resources experts question the mentality. Zhang Hui, director of Peking University's graduate employment instruction center, said better looks do not guarantee better jobs, which should be earned by education and working ability.

Despite experts' objections, though, many top hospitals are now packed with students.

Beijing Air Force 466 Hospital has received more than 200 students for cosmetic surgery since mid-June, a 24 percent increase compared with the same period last year, reported.

China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing has also seen more than 10 students a day at its orthopedics department this summer, while during normal days there were hardly any clients, said Ma Haihuan, director of the department.

He said the most common operations are for double eyelids and nose jobs, but breast implants and laser treatments are also gaining popularity.

The desire for surgery among lower age groups is another trend, added Ma.

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"Five years ago, groups of students from top fine arts colleges came to me for plastic surgery, while nowadays my office is still packed but with high school children looking to enroll in top fine arts colleges," he said.

Some students, however, are becoming more rational when it comes to surgery.

"They don't bring stars' pictures and tell me they want the same nose," said Ma. "Instead they do research on what shape fits them best."

The popularity of cosmetic surgery indicates enhanced aesthetic concepts and people's belief in the opportunities, wealth and love brought by beauty, said Zhao Wei, a professor of education at Shenzhen University.

Some students, however, go under the knife at a very young age because of deceptive promotions by some hospitals, he warned, adding that parents should provide more guidance.