The Chinese government has been cracking down on conspicuous consumption and tall poppies in recent months. Billionaires have disappeared; movie stars have become unpersons; at least one scientist, He Jiankui, has been jailed.
The latest target is China’s huge cosmetic surgery industry.
The official People’s Daily declared this week that it was “imperative and urgent” to regulate advertising. “From posters at bus stops and in subways, to introductions on social websites and content platforms, from advertisements planted in films and television variety shows to promotions by live-streamers, medical beauty advertisements are overwhelmingly pervasive,” it said.
Some advertisements associate good looks with “high quality”, “diligence” and “success”, fabricating stories about “plastic surgery changing one’s destiny” and distorting aesthetic perceptions.
The market for plastic surgery in China could reach US$46 billion by 2022 and $201 billion by 2030, according to a report by the Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics.
Deng Liqiang, director of the China Health Law Society and an expert in plastic surgery, told the Global Times this week that the boom in the beauty care industry is due to the crass exploitation of “appearance anxiety”.
“The young trend in the cosmetic surgery field will continue distorting the values of younger generations if the authorities do not conduct a strict crackdown,” he declared.
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