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Plastic-surgery marathon begins
( 2003-12-03 13:58) (eastday.com)

Zhang Di embarked on a three-week plastic surgery marathon yesterday, thanks to a local tabloid newspaper that is putting up 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) to turn the 26-year-old translator into a "man-made beauty."

Zhang underwent the first of 10 operations yesterday at Shanghai Kinway Plastic & Cosmetics Surgery Center to have her once-round face restructured to look more oval.

"I took a picture last Friday," said Zhang, just before she was wheeled into the operating room. "I want to keep my previous appearance in my memory and live a happier life with a new face."

Apparently she isn't the only woman in Shanghai seeking a completely new face. Last week, Zhang beat out 50 other contestants to win the free plastic surgery in a competition sponsored by the New Times newspaper.

The tabloid said it was inspired by a similar competition in Beijing that saw one woman win a new face, slimmer stomach and bigger breasts.

Hao Lulu, 24, became a media sensation when she accepted 300,000 yuan worth of "head-to-toe" plastic surgery earlier this year.

Her recent return to public following the overhaul has led to a great deal of discussion in the media and on the Internet.

Many Web surfers have posted negative comments about Hao, calling her "extremely vain" and suggesting the competition was "absurd."

While most local residents Shanghai Daily interviewed said they don't approve of Zhang's decision to go under the scalpel, many were understanding.

"Pursuit of beauty is the most natural desire of everybody, it is understandable for ordinary-looking girls to have their appearance improved," said Zhong Xiuting, 23.

"It will certainly be good if I can improve my appearance, so that I can get more opportunities," she said. "Besides, I will be more confident if I look prettier."

"I don't care whether my girlfriend has had plastic surgery or not so long as I like her," said Michael Shen, a local office worker, adding that most of his male co-workers agree with him.

"People are born different. Why should everybody intentionally squeeze into a formatted beauty?" asked Jane Chen, a local resident.

While few are willing to go to the extremes Hao and Zhang chose to, more and more people are using plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

"We normally conduct 50 to 60 plastic surgeries every day. During holidays, the figure will double," said Dr Sun Baoshan, vice director of the plastic and reconstructive department at the Shanghai No 9 People's Hospital.

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