Young graduates look to surgery for better jobs

By Stuart Beaton ( China Daily ) Updated: 2010-11-16 09:45:14
Young graduates look to surgery for better jobs

Recently I spoke to some of my students about what they wanted to do after they graduate, and what kind of job prospects they thought they had.

Given that I teach students who are training to be doctors, I was surprised to find that most thought that they would not be able to get the jobs they wanted without "outside help".

"What kind of help is that?", I asked, expecting them to tell me that they would need a relative or family friend to help them out.

"Surgery", one replied.

I was pretty alarmed by that response.

It seems that the graduates of today are increasingly willing to go under the knife to get ahead of the pack when it comes to getting a job.

Young graduates look to surgery for better jobs

Some of my students told me they were thinking of having elective surgery to straighten their noses, or have their eyelids altered.

One girl told me that she was considering surgery to increase her height. "They break your legs, put in special extending screws, and slowly expand the gap between the two ends of the bone as it re-grows, you can get at least 5 cm taller!"

At that point, it all went dark, and I awoke to find several students around me, reviving me.

I am short, I can't deny that, but I don't think I would put myself through months of agony just to be a few centimeters taller. I don't even bother to wear shoes with thick soles, as I'm not trying to hide the fact that I am just not tall!

But the willingness to go to such extremes makes me worry about what kind of message society is trying to send to young people.

It seems to me that there is a trend toward wanting "perfection", and that is an ideal that just does not exist in reality.

No one is born perfect, yet magazines, TV shows and movies present images of thin, tall, beautiful people as being the norm. Advertisements for slimming aids, beauty treatments and cosmetic surgery clinics fill the pages of newspapers, further creating an idea that "perfection" is a requirement, and that it must be purchased, no matter what the cost.

Cosmetic surgery has long been nicknamed "psychiatry by knife", as the changes it makes can alter a patient's self-esteem. However, it does not always solve the problem at the heart of the matter, and can lead to even more problems in the future.

A few years ago, I had a student who had undergone surgery to round out the shape of her eyes, and give them a more Western appearance. Unfortunately, the surgeon had botched the job, and she is no longer able to fully close her eyes - not exactly what she had in mind when she made the payment to him.

In Australia, it is illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of his age or gender - or his looks. Hiring for jobs is based on the idea that the person with the best skills is the one best suited for the position - to do otherwise seems just illogical.

Is Chinese society that image-driven that we would rather have people in jobs that have lower skill sets, but look good? It worries me that this push for unnaturally beautiful people to fill positions is hurting, not helping, the companies that use such policies for employment.

Skills, not vanity, should determine how successful a person is in his chosen career.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be treated by a doctor who is just a pretty face.

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