So there are many things interesting about China’s Miss Artificial Beauty pageant. One is that it exists at all, that the Chinese seem eager to promote and accept something we in this country are still a little leery of: cosmetic surgery not as a prophylactic or a defense for self-esteem as we age, but as a conscious program of bodily manipulation in the quest for true beauty.
Another interesting facet of the pageant is the range of contestants. The contestants raged in age from 17 (which is generally considered too young for plastic surgery in this country) to 62, and although the winner was at the younger end of this spectrum (at age 22), this range affirms that women are able to be and remain beautiful as they age, unlike more traditional beauty pageants, where most of the contestants are below legal drinking age.
The contestants also included a transsexual, who would not of course have been allowed to compete in this country. In fact, she might not even be allowed to use the ladies’ restroom (but, then again, neither are some women). Is this likely to increase acceptance of transsexuals in this country? Unlikely, but it’s also unlikely to hurt.
The women in the pageant seemed, overall, to have fairly subtle modifications. It’s hard to say what, exactly, they had done. In a few cases, it seems the women might have had facelifts, from the way their skin is taut over their cheekbones, and since they are mostly very slender, many of them probably had some combination of liposuction to various areas. A couple have obviously had breast augmentations.
But of course what’s most interesting about the pageant is its ties to the growing popularity of cosmetic surgery in China. The practice was banned in the country until 2001, but since then the industry has been growing rapidly, and last year it took in $2.4 billion dollars, more than one fifth of what was spent in this country last year. With the continued surge in the Chinese economy, this could be yet another area in which the country that Mao built outstrips us.