Old French proverb: Beauty and madness are often companions
What constitutes Chinese beauty?
A Weibo user, after browsing beauty research online with hashtags like “manga size”, “wide eyes”, “pale white skin”, “elf ears” and “calf nerve blocking”, replied wryly that it all sounded like Gollum, the “Lord of the Rings” monster. The comment was retweeted 30,000 times.
Elf ears and calf nerves blocked? These last two hot topics have shocked millions of Chinese internet users. In one week, the hashtag “elf ear” recorded more than 710 million clicks and “block the nerves of the calves” recorded more than 310 million.
“Elf Ear” does not refer to the pointy ears of the Elven Prince portrayed by Orlando Bloom in “The Lord of the Rings”. It is a procedure that involves injecting Botox behind the ears so that they appear closer to the face and presumably make it smaller.
“Blocking Calf Nerves” refers to a procedure to block the nerves of the gastrocnemius muscle in the lower leg so that they stop working and the leg looks smaller.
What is all this nonsense?
Dr Liu Xianchao, vice-director of the plastic surgery department at Ren’ai Hospital in Shanghai, calls such procedures “self-handicapping.”
“These strange, non-standard surgeries are often performed and promoted by non-traditional institutes as a way to promote sales through new products,” Liu told the Shanghai Daily.
“Each type of surgery we perform in our hospital must be registered with the relevant medical authorities,” he explained. A legitimate doctor knows when to reject a request for surgery. I will never do such “self-disabled” surgeries, which are irreversible. . “
What causes this beauty frenzy?
A CCTV.com survey found that nearly 80 percent of people born after 1995 have concerns about their appearance. This obsession may well be the result of business trends that exploit stranger avenues to perceived beauty.
In 2016, many internet users were quick to follow celebrity selfies showing things like measuring the waist to the 8-inch width of a vertical A4 sheet of paper.
Today, many internet users are calling for an end to the bizarre new standards of beauty and the general obsession with personal appearance.
The industry of “medical aesthetics”, which refers to plastic surgery aimed at improving beauty and not correcting legitimate bodily problems, also includes non-surgical treatments. This is one of the latest investment hot spots.
According to an iResearch report, the industry’s value reached 176 billion yuan ($ 28 billion) in 2019, almost a quarter from the previous year. It showed that there were around 13,000 qualified institutes in the industry, with over 2,000 exceeding their qualifications and 8,000 without any qualifications.
“Many aesthetic medical companies have secured two or three rounds of investor funding, and the trend seems to be intensifying this year,” Hangzhou-based angel investor Kalyn Huang told the Shanghai Daily.
“The sheer size and speed of emergence of new businesses essentially means that they disappear within the first six months if they cannot show a large customer base and a profit model,” Huang said. “Using social media platforms and live streamers is becoming the cheapest and fastest way for them to grow.”
National and regional authorities have taken action to crack down on wacky beauty suppliers, but the relatively new sector continues to come up with new ways to attract consumers.
The iResearch report also listed some of the beauty standards most sought after by these consumers – among others, flawless white skin (94.6%), a pointy chin (69.3%) and the thinner the better (54 , 8%).
Chinese netizens call it simply “white, thin and young”. Many develop anxieties when they do not have these attributes.
Angela Chen is a regular at “medico-aesthetic” institutes. She explains that she is constantly trying to perfect her face and body.
“I’m not doing it to please men,” the 21-year-old student told the Shanghai Daily. “Why can’t I do whatever I want with my face and body if I like it?” “
She added that a big part of “having fun” is having a socially pleasing image, and her idea of that image mostly comes from selfies on social media platforms and live streamers.
In addition to having her eyes and nose “modified” and regular skin treatments at institutes, she underwent “calf slimming injections”, which consist of an injection of botulinum toxin into her lower legs. It is a legitimate procedure in most plastic surgery hospitals, but Chen said she was not satisfied with the result, so she is studying treatment for “calf nerve blockage.”
When inquiring about the procedure, the institute’s “beauty consultant”, a glorified salesperson, recommended that she also receive botulinum toxin injections to tighten the trapezius, or back muscle connecting the head. and the body, to straighten his shoulders.
“I’m a little hesitant now because when this procedure became a ‘hot’ topic of research, doctors and experts advised against the procedure,” Chen said. “But I am very tempted by the before and after photos because they make it so beautiful!”
According to Dr Liu, who specializes in repairing failed plastic surgeries, this hot new research isn’t even a new procedure. It was abandoned a long time ago due to serious side effects. And the slimming effect is also temporary, he said.
Liu said he saw such surgeries in small-scale experiments over 20 years ago.
“These leg muscles have functions and could be important when needed,” Liu said. “One needs the support of the gastrocnemius muscles when climbing or jogging. Blocked nerves affect the ability to exercise. These muscles can also be turned into knee joints for patients with injuries.”
Any “slimming” effect is likely to wear off as other muscles move to replace lost function and gain size.
“Elf Ear” is a new phenomenon, even for a seasoned doctor like Liu.
“No legitimate doctor would do such a procedure,” he said. “We have procedures to treat ‘wind-catching ears’, which do the exact opposite.”
“Wind-catching ears” are what the Chinese call ears too close to the face. A typical example would be the pig character Zhu Bajie in the classic Monkey King story “Journey to the West”.
“People should have a normal sense of aesthetics,” Liu said. “Beauty is not a fashion trend. You can’t just go blindly and change the shape of your nose every few years.”
He added: “As plastic surgery doctors, we study ancient beauty standards, and there are some that are commonly recognized. The most important thing is that the beauty matches the rest of the face. and the body. “