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 • Beauty  • American Beauty Infects China Pursuit of Beauty

American Beauty Infects China Pursuit of Beauty

China and American Beauty

Lisa Ling traveled to China to investigate the growing multi-billion dollar Chinese beauty industry.   What she discovered around Shanghai’s beauty scene was utterly appalling.

China, as a society, includes a large population of petite women which are often recognized around the world for their gorgeousVogue_angelica cheung_Lisa Ling_Oprah black hair and intriguing brown eyes.   Unfortunately, though, it seems the influence of American fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, Glamour, and a myriad other magazine have infected Chinese culture with their western ideal of beauty.

Vogue Magazine launched a Chinese edition just five years ago.  Angelica Cheung, the editor-in-chief, tells Lisa Ling it’s been a success since the first issue hit the stands. “We were the first Vogue actually to make a profit in the first year,” she says.

Has success for magazines, such as Vogue in China come at a price chinese women_plastic surgeryfor Chinese women?  Ling found that a growing segment of women has been persuaded that looking like Barbie, that means being blonde haired blue eyed and Amazonian in stature, equals real beauty.   The impacts of this indoctrination have been mind-blowing.

A growing segment of Chinese women is undergoing plastic surgery including procedures to change their eyelids, cheek implants, lip injections, breast implants and even dying their hair blonde!  The sad news is that it doesnโ€™t end there.


Among the most extreme new trends in China is the rise of leg extension procedures.  Yes, you heard me, leg extensions!  These women feel that being petite is a negative and keeps them from feeling “confident, attractive and competent in the workplace.โ€

Furthermore, even Chinese men are unable to gain employment without increasing their height.  These men and women are breaking their legs and enduring a year and a half of painful procedures, all in the name of being taller.

  • You have to note that the culture there is very, very, very critical of personal appearance. It is actually NOT impolite (yet) to say that someone is fat. It is also NOT impolite to ask a person's age, comment that someone is wrinkly (seriously, women at cosmetics counters at department stores do that ALL THE FREAKING TIME and will say that to anyone who looks over 30-35) as well as about their salary. However, I think people there go to the extremes at times – right now, in China, it's about playing catch-up to the developed world – they want to appear sophisticated and developed. Otherwise, they feel that they'd lose face (you don't want to lose face in Chinese (and other Confucius-influenced) culture). For example, parks are created within months by placing semi-mature trees in open spaces – I was in Shanghai in 2003 and a friend mentioned that the park across from the restaurant we were eating at wasn't there two or three months prior. This isn't something that's done over here. I'd give them some time. In a few years, they'd realize that what they're doing is bad.

    March 6, 2010
    • shaq


      Ah i agree with u, actually yes, in many asian countries (except japan), saying someone fatter or darker or asking age isnt impolite if u comment as a matter of fact-ly. Actually i kinda surprised the first time i knew how sensitive Americans abt things like age and skin colors haha. Here comments like “omg u look black/u’re getting fatter” will rarely offend anyone, and no one will even relate it to racism.

      February 4, 2014
      • lolita


        That comment would offend a black person, saying ” you look black”, the only reason they say that so openly is because there is not a lot of black people over there. I have always wondered why Asian people make fun of black people looks. Just strange for that to happen. Just like black people, they have very unique features that are no western, I guess hence the need for ‘surgeries’

        December 9, 2017
  • fab


    whoever destroy the balance of earth will pay for its own price at the end

    March 10, 2010
  • maggie


    I use to feel the same way bc I have dreams of modeling and I'm always getting told no bc of my height even when I wanted to participate in a pageant I was getting told no and constantly getting held back from a dream that I can see but can't touch. But after seeing that article I was so disgusted I was nauceous! And I've come to terms that my height is just fine! & that going to those kinda of drastics measures just to be taller is not worth it!

    March 10, 2010
  • Francine Bay


    I really enjoyed this article, and that is scary that people are going to that extreme of plastic surgery.. to gain a few inches.. and yes some fashion designers have it in their head they have to make clothing tall to showcase it.. and show detail, which is a load of crock.. or it's easy to repair, i've heard that too, im like maybe you should make better clothing so it doesn't fall apart on the runway.. and either way its easy to fix..

    when i was working with Jillian in portland with the fashion show, i had to work with the chineese clothing, and they were soo tall.. and skinnier.. and teh ladies who came where short and healthy looking.. and they see this women down the runway…

    "It’s about time petite women reign in the world of beauty and fashion. Men prefer petite women not amazons, it’s a fact, there is even scientific proof from recent studies and research to make the case. Petite women are the real women and the look of beauty. Petite women should never feel less than perfect!" i didn't like this part… because tall women are real women too.. we have to realize everybody comes in different shapes, sizes, height, and colors.. by saying that.. it might make a tall women feel less about herself too.. i think petite model should be in the industry as well, being petite myself, but we aren't just the look of beauty, its all women that are!!! just my own insight

    May 20, 2010
  • All Around the World News


    American Beauty Infects China – Bella Petite – Fashion and ……

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    June 11, 2010
  • Carla


    I hate to read about something like this. Each and every woman is beautiful due to their own unique physical/cultural attributes.

    July 17, 2010
  • angela phillips


    This is the info we need to get out! Another great article by Ann Lauren!

    July 19, 2010
  • Abigaille


    Wow I didn’t know this was happening! It’s terrible what these magazines are doing but it’s also the ppl who are buying them and trying to become the exact reflection of these “gorgeous perfect models/actresses”…. And anways I don’t think being a tall shapeless/curveless giraffe is the “perfect type” not that I’m saying all tall girls are horrible looking but I rather be my height are shorter.. Most guys prefer shorter girls not girls the same exact height as them…I’m not even tall but some guys think I’m too “tall” even though I’m 5’5 or 5’6 (I grew ovr the winter) and I’m even taller then one of my crushes! I think being “petite” is good… Nobody should make you feel bad about your height and if you let that really take a bite of you which makes you want to get these leg extensions maybe you should just see a therapist or something….

    January 16, 2011
    • skinnyminny


      There’s nothing wring with being skinny. Some people are just naturally tall and skinny. I’m not saying that only really tall really skinny people are pretty. I’m just saying that people need to stop hating. Not all of us are fake, and I personally think that some people look better with some cushion.

      May 12, 2012
  • Abigaille


    Oh yeah I forgot…
    Great article!!!!
    You guys should like day a few new articles each day because I visit your site everyday and I don’t really see new articles..
    And I love reading your articles.
    I’m a teenager and these articles are really teaching me things ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 16, 2011
  • Abigaille


    I meant to put “make” not day.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 16, 2011
  • Happened across this article while sending a message on FB to petite model Angela Phillips and had to chime in on this, even tho it’s last year’s article. I’m sure it’s still current and has gotten worse!

    Note to Chinese women- DON”T DO THIS! Don’t fall for what may soon be slipping into the term deemed “Old School” by modern thinkers and doers. As long as you are height/weight proportionate, you are as good or better as any Amazonian stick-legged prisoner of trends. Stretching your bones? That’s far worse than getting a tattoo. When you get older you may end up a cripple! If you find that fashionable, go for it. While tattoo’s might be tolerable, you might be miserable.

    Personally I don’t like big breasts, and don’t prefer tall women and I think there may be a huge change that parallel’s this train of thought coming down the pike. May as well go shopping for a shirt now that says “I’m with stupid” and it points to YOU!

    January 20, 2011
  • petite


    The same ideal is everywhere, but I wouldn’t blame American beauty propaganda… Look at the greek statues, those of ancient Goddesses representing beauty, they were pictured as normally tall…. it is men’s preference, and women have always wanted to be liked and desired for their sexual features. Long legs are among the most important features a man notices and likes in a woman.

    July 16, 2017
  • Rania


    The same ideal is everywhere, but I wouldn’t blame American beauty propaganda… Look at the greek statues, those of ancient Goddesses representing beauty, they were pictured as normally tall…. it is men’s preference, and women have always wanted to be liked and desired for their sexual features. Long legs are among the most important features a man notices and likes in a woman.

    July 16, 2017