Saving “face” in China: modernization, parental pressure, and plastic surgery



  • Using adolescent women living and working in Shanghai, as our sample group, we argue that a consequence of a modernizing Peoples Republic of China11 are the cultural values embodied in consumption are increasingly representing western consumption narratives. The extreme of this ideal is the consumption of the body through plastic surgery and the construction of an identity reflective of wider societal changes in China. Using an ethno-consumerist methodology and interviewing women in Shanghai, our findings indicated that participants were encouraged to undertake plastic surgery operations by drawing upon traditional Chinese cultural hierarchies, i.e., family and society, and a need to compete in a modernizing society. Plastic surgery was used by participants then to construct a future biography of themselves as the embodiment of a new China: perfect, successful, and wealthy.

Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.