Fan Bingbing a role model, but not for looks

By Du Qiongfang Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-4 18:43:01

Illustrations: Lu Ting/GT

It has become a ridiculously ironic phenomenon among renowned Chinese actresses to deny that they have ever "gone under the knife" of reconstructive surgery in order to alter their looks, as many young Chinese women are now also undergoing plastic surgery to keep up with the ever-altering faces of their favorite idols.

One 29-year-old Chinese woman has so far blown 800,000 yuan ($123,447) on 20 plastic surgery operations over the past two years in a desperate attempt to resemble Fan Bingbing, a superstar Chinese actress famous for her severely pointed chin and ultra-wide double eyelids.

The "fake Fan" recently appeared on a television talk show in Shanghai, saying so far she has undergone jaw shaving, nose reconstruction, double eyelid operations and lip reshaping. She is also planning to "grow taller" by breaking her shin bones to insert implants. Due to her addiction to plastic surgery, Fake Fan's mother has threatened to disown her.

The irony of this woman's obsession over Fan Bingbing is that, before the real Fan became famous for her face, she was highly regarded for her fierce independence and unyielding personality. She got her start on TV playing mere supporting roles but won a loyal following for her plain "typical servant face," which gave hope to legions of average-looking Chinese girls across the nation.

While other actresses were gradually forgotten or retired, Fan persisted in the industry. Scandals and rumors involving Fan only fueled the rising star's popularity with viewers, and her drive to become China's leading star. Despite her behind-the-scenes reputation, Fan eventually won leading roles - and the hearts of audiences - with her stellar performances, going on to win some best-actress awards.

Another Chinese actress who also had to climb the industry ladder like Fan is Maggie Cheung, who was happy to accept roles in any B-movie she could get in order to prove herself to directors and audiences. "As long as you make great efforts to perform, your efforts will be noticed by others," Cheung once advised young actresses. She eventually became the first Chinese to win best actress awards for the Berlin International Film Festival and Cannes International Film Festival.

Neither Cheung nor Fan started out as leading stars or got ahead in the industry strictly on their looks. And yet, now that they have become internationally famous, untold numbers of Chinese girls think that they, too, can become stars just by looking like their favorite idols. Playing a big role in this myth-making are those unscrupulous plastic surgery hospitals who prey on the insecurities of average-looking women by making them think that looks are the only thing that matters.

In many situations, a beautiful face can even become an obstacle in a young woman's career. Just like how Westerners think blonde women are all dumb, the Chinese stereotype against "too-beautiful" women is that they must lack smarts. I'd like to argue that this isn't true, but considering how popular plastic surgery has become in China, it's hard to defend such women as being intelligent.

The opinions expressed in these articles are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

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Posted in: TwoCents, Metro Shanghai

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