People can feel immense pressure to fit in, and we’re not talking about wearing the latest fashions and hanging out with the cool kids. These days, physical appearance can influence the job you have and the friends you make. Some parents have even been known to give their children cosmetic surgery as a reward for good grades. beijingkids sat down with four students from Shuren Ribet Private School to discuss the pressure to be beautiful, when it’s acceptable to have plastic surgery and if beauty is only skin deep.
Alexandria Pineda, 16, Malaysia, has lived in Beijing for four years
Zhu Huazang, 17, China, has lived in Beijing for three years
Baek Seung Min, 15, South Korea, has lived in Beijing for eight months
Kate Ustyuzhanina, 17, Kazakhstan, has lived in Beijing for two years
Would you consider plastic surgery?
Seung Min: No, I think it would be too expensive. I’m scared it would hurt.
Kate: I wouldn’t do it. Beauty is more than just the way we look. People have been brainwashed – they want to look like dolls. Girls in the magazines don’t look real.
Alexandria: I wouldn’t, because it’s harmful. It’s unnecessary for us to hurt our bodies to look beautiful for other people.
Huazang: I’ve never thought about it. I’m Chinese, and we believe our bodies are a gift from from our parents. Synthetic man-made changes can’t create beauty.
If somebody had plastic surgery, would this change your opinion of them?
Huazang: It’s their way to deal with life, but it would affect my opinion. I wouldn’t trust someone who changed their body – it’s weird. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should I?
Kate: I had a friend who had plastic surgery on her lips. It was her personal choice. She wasn’t as happy as she though she would be, though.
Would you try to dissuade a friend from getting cosmetic surgery?
Seung Min: If my friend wants to do it, it’s his or her choice.
Alexandria: If they are happy, then they can do it. But I’d try to dissuade them.
Kate: I’d press them not to do it. I wouldn’t want to see my friend in pain. I’d try to explain that I love them the way they are.
Huazang: At first I’d ask them to calm down. I’d tell them my opinion and buy them some books to help them understand their choice. If they thought about it and came back a second time, I’d let them.
When is plastic surgery acceptable?
Kate: If you’ve been physically hurt – if there is a medical need, and this is your only choice. For some people, it gives you a new chance at life. It’s more about need than desire, though.
Alexandria: I agree with Kate. There are advantages – it can correct defects, things like acne or something that has plagued a person since birth. If it’s the only thing that can give them a normal life, then I think it’s OK.
Seung Min: I’m from Korea. It’s very hard to find a job there, so many people change the way they look to get a job. They make their eyes bigger. In Korea that is acceptable – it’s better than not having a job.
What age is it appropriate to have cosmetic surgery?
Seung Min: Older than 30. In your 20s girls are all about looks, and boys are all about money. When you get older you grow out of that behavior.
Alexandria: After puberty.
Kate: Older than 25. Then your body has developed and so has your mind; you are more mature and understand life. I think there should be an age restriction, like for alcohol.
Huazang: No discussion. It should never be done.
Why do you think people have plastic surgery?
Kate: Nowadays, beauty is the key to success. Even in business, a beautiful woman is more convincing than an ugly one. It’s human nature to want to be perfect.
Huazang: It shows the emptiness of people’s minds – they focus on looks rather than learning. Humans think they can change everything themselves.
Alexandria: They do it to attract people and get a job.
Do you think celebrities should have plastic surgery to maintain their image?
Seung Min: If they get prettier they can get more fans, more money. If they spend the money on plastic surgery, they will get it back. I think it’s OK.
Kate: People all have to give up something for their job, and it’s the same for celebrities. People won’t like you if you look bad – you’re an idol. Beauty is the key to success.
Huazang: I argue about this with my friends. I wish stars would focus on their craft instead. People will forget you.World leaders don’t get plastic surgery, and people remember them.
Is it acceptable for parents to give cosmetic surgery as a gift?
Seung Min: I really disagree with that.
Huazang: I think it’s a difference between East and West. Most Chinese are Buddhist so we believe that if you’re a good person, people can even see a light around you.
Do you feel any pressure to change the way you look?
Kate: Society wants me to change from the inside – for example, to be more patient. But I’ve never felt pressure to change the way I look.
Huazang: No. I’ve never felt any pressure.
Seung Min: I’ve considered it. In Korea if you want a job, you have to do that. If my girlfriend said, “I hate your face,” I’d change it.
What do you think about Pamela Anderson?
Kate: She is empty, filled with silicone but no brain. She has to realize how it influences teenage girls. Breasts are a major issue; a lot of teenage girls have a complex.
Huazang: She needs a good friend to talk to her about her mental state. If she stops, I think she might find inner peace.
Alexandria: Her breasts are too big!
Seung Min: Her breasts are too big – she thinks it’s cool and sexy, others find it ridiculous.
Alexandria: Fans will follow her and compare – it will negatively affect her fans.