Buying Beauty

Cosmetic Surgery in China


Wen Hua

ISBN : 978-988-8139-81-1

Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology

January 2013

284 pages, 6″ x 9″, 22 color and 3 b&w illus.

  • HK$500.00

Also available in Paperback HK$195.00

Cosmetic surgery in China has grown rapidly in recent years of dramatic social transition. Facing fierce competition in all spheres of daily life, more and more women consider cosmetic surgery as an investment to gain “beauty capital” to increase opportunities for social and career success.

Building on rich ethnographic data, this book presents the perspectives of women who have undergone cosmetic surgery, illuminating the aspirations behind their choices. The author explores how turbulent economic, socio-cultural and political changes in China since the 1980s have produced immense anxiety that is experienced by women both mentally and physically. This book will appeal to readers who are interested in gender studies, China studies, anthropology and sociology of the body, and cultural studies.

Wen Hua received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has worked in academia and international organizations in the field of gender and development.

“China is undergoing significant socio-economic, cultural as well as political changes. It offers an opportunity to examine how people develop their new perspective of what constitutes beauty, how they would work on their bodies in order to respond to new expectations and the new socio-economic environment, and how the socialist state is loosening its grip on the ordinary people. This book offers its readers the excitement of looking at social transformation in China.” —Tai-lok Lui, the University of Hong Kong

“This book contains rich ethnographic detail, offers a good account of how cosmetic surgery has become a fairly common phenomenon, and carefully contextualizes cosmetic surgery in the broader sociocultural changes in contemporary China. Scholars and students interested in gender, the body and social change will find the book a good window on a fascinating, complex and rapidly changing Chinese society.” —Jianhua Zhao, The China Journal