China chose its first Miss Artificial Beauty on Saturday, giving the crown to a 22-year-old from the northeastern city of Jilin who couldn't have done it without the help of her plastic surgeon.
Twenty contestants aged 17 to 62 competed in the final round of the "man-made beauty" pageant at a Beijing opera house, all having gone under the knife to improve their appearance.
When the result was announced, it was a buoyant Feng Qian who had doctors to thank for four procedures that added a fold to her eyelids, liposuctioned fat from her belly, reshaped her cheeks, and injected botox to alter facial muscles.
Feng, wearing a flowing gold evening gown and a bright smile on her resculpted face, said she hoped the event would remove some of the stigma associated with plastic surgery.
"I hope this pageant will give a positive sign to the public," she said, adding that the secret of her victory was confidence.
Rising urban incomes have made extreme makeovers fashionable in China, and many women are going under the knife in search of movie-star looks -- raising concern about the nation's rapidly growing, but unregulated plastic surgery business.
The first runner up, Zhang Shuang, also 22, from the southern city of Changsha, underwent 10 procedures -- more than any other contestant -- including fixing her eyelids, nose, ears, breasts and upper and lower jaw as well as softening her skin and removing body hair.
Shanghai's Cheng Lili, also 22, second runner up, had six procedures including nose and breast augmentations.
Organizers dreamt up the pageant after a contestant in a regular beauty contest in May was disqualified after it was discovered she had spent 110,000 yuan ($13,000) on improving her looks.
China banned beauty pageants after New China was founded in 1949 and took decades to revive them. It first entered the Miss World Competition in 2001 -- but has hosted the pageant for the past two years on the southern island of Hainan.
(CRI December 20, 2004)