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'Give me a job so that I can survive'
( 2004-01-09 10:11) (Shanghai Star)

Zhang Jing, a girl in the northern municipality of Tianjin, has become a household name in China for her weal and woe over the past year.

Zhang Jing looks much better after three face lifts. [Shanghai Star]
The 25-year-old girl stood up against discriminatory employers when she failed time and again to find a job to support her family of five, four of whom were handicapped - only because she looked too homely.

"Give me a job so that I can survive," she yelled out to Chinese media in July 2003.

A number of kind-hearted people responded to Zhang's call: readers and netizens who expressed their sympathy, hospitals that offered free face-lifts and employers who voiced a readiness to hire her.

With the help of these loving people, the girl started to work as a domestic helper in a senior citizens' centre in Tianjin last August and underwent three major face-lifts, all free of charge, in four months.

Zhang became much better looking after her third face-lift on December 25.

"I had thought all my worries would fade away as soon as I looked much better," said the former ugly duckling with a new, lovely hairstyle, a sweet and charming smile and a delicate pair of glasses in a recent interview with Xinhua, her face lit up with an air of pride, confidence and perseverance. "Now I know how naive and childish I was."

Zhang said she quickly awoke from her dreams of finding a decently-paid job after being frustrated repeatedly by the same simple question: "What can you do?"

"I've come to realize I'm still my old self, except for a regular and prettier face. So I'm going to do more reading and pick up some practical skills - that's my biggest plan for the new year."

The girl said she was also prompted by her long-held desire to write an autobiography.

"I began writing down my life story last year," she said. "I had written approximately 10,000 characters when I found it was really hard to express myself well. After all, I've only finished junior high school."

Zhang said she hoped to complete the book this year, probably with the help of others. "A writer with the Tianjin Writers' Association has helped me to decide the name of my book."

Like most girls of her age, Zhang often had fond dreams of her Mr. Right and hopes she will find an ideal husband in the new year.

"I'm just an ordinary girl and I long for true love," said Zhang, with tears in her eyes. "I hope to find someone to really love and care for me all my life."

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