It is peak season for plastic surgery in one of the world's oldest continuous civilisations. In China, nose and eye jobs are among the most popular graduation presents for high-school students who survive the gaokao university entrance examinations. Parents see it as an investment: piano lessons, mathematics tutoring, double eyelid surgery. Tiger Mum knows best.
Studying for the gaokao is enough to make anyone's eyelids droop, but these kids are not getting their lids lifted, they are getting new ones installed. Western plastic surgeons are asked to shrink noses and eyelids, but their Chinese counterparts have the opposite job: build an eyelid fold where none went before and give that flat nose a hump and some height.
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To each their own corporeal obsessions: Michelle Obama's admirably firm upper arms apparently helped spark a 4,000 per cent increase in elective arm surgery over the past 12 years, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
And although the plastic surgery history of Peng Liyuan, China's first lady, is hardly a matter of public record, her plump ear lobes have been singled out for favourable comment in the blogosphere, since substantial lobes are apparently a guarantee of lifetime financial security. (Her nose and chin shape are, it seems, good for her husband's career, her mouth and teeth indicate she's no gossip, and her oval facial shape is also a good omen.)
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But in today's China, all this is about jobs. Ask the 15 university students who came to the Shanghai Time Plastic Surgery Hospital last month to attend a seminar on physiognomic enhancement. They weren't warbling on about Ms Peng's ear lobes or Ms Obama's upper arms – they were talking salary.