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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Fake Beauty

Strange, but true:

Plastic surgeons around the world are being given the chance to show off their talents, in a new artificial beauty pageant in China. A contest will be held in October among women who have undergone cosmetic surgery, according to state media.

It will be open to any woman who can prove her beauty is man-made.

Plastic surgery is on the increase in China, China Daily newspaper said, with around 20bn yuan ($2.4bn) spent yearly on beauty treatments.

The idea for "Miss Plastic Surgery" was reportedly born after a woman was barred from a traditional beauty contest after spending $13,000 on 11 cosmetic operations.

The paper said China now had a million beauty salons, employing six million people.

Their clients range from body-conscious teenage girls to women in their 30s seeking facial jobs and breast implants, it added.

The rise of the salons is based on the assumption that beauty is a route to success, China Daily said, citing findings by US economists which indicated that good looks increased overall hourly income by 5%.

China recently lifted a 54-year ban on beauty pageants, which the authorities used to see as bourgeois and decadent.

But the explosion of economic growth and the loosening of social controls of the past few years has led to a growing preoccupation with how people look.

The Miss World contest was held in China for the first time in 2003.

BBC News, "China to hold fake beauty pageant"
A hat-tip to Microsoft's Raymond Chen for pointing out this article. He was talking about steroids in baseball, and proposed that there be a "juiced" division and a "non-juiced" division so that we can satisfy everyone, saying "it worked for beauty pageants" and providing the link to the news story.

But the problem with the analogy between steroids and plastic surgery is that while it seems pretty easy to distinguish between natural and unnatural athleticism (no injections as a rule of thumb), I find it hard to call regular beauty pageant contestants 100% natural. A true contest of natural beauty would require that contestants use no makeup, no styling products, and wear no clothing. Honestly! It would be the only way to evaluate their actual appearance. Work out all you like, use whatever beauty regimen you normally use to enhance your appearance, but when you are evaluated, the judges should be evaluating only you. And you know what? I bet you money that we wouldn't see these big-mouthed, big-haired, skeletal waifs winning anything anymore. That's not what a really beautiful woman looks like.

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