by Mai Hien
The "Change Life" programme has cer-tainly lived up to its name, transforming two "plain" looking women to "hot" beauties.
It was only to be expected that this has created a "face rush," with many people now wanting cosmetic surgery to make them good looking.
LeThi Thuy, a medical university student, had a scar on her face, and Vu Thanh Quynh, a fashion designer, was self-conscious about a protruding lip.
The reality TV show has given them a fresh lease of life with new looks that have boosted their self confidence.
My friend Hoa immediately decided to register for the programme.
"It's a good chance. Why can't I take it to make myself more beautiful?" she argued.
Hoa, a secondary school teacher, said she'd always carried a complex about her looks and wished she was more attractive to her students.
An, a colleague with a tall and eye-catching face, told me she wanted to have a surgery and get a "higher nose."
Many women I talked to said they would be willing to undergo surgery if they were not satisfied with their physical appearance. They also agreed that surgeries were a must for those with congenital defects or defects caused by injuries or illness.
"If I had a big scar on the face like Le Thi Thuy, I would certainly have cosmetic surgery," said Thu, one of my neighbours, explaining that she wouldn't want people to look at her face and feel sorry for her.
The Change Life programme is produced by Vietnam Television in collaboration with a South Korean Television Channel. It provides free cosmetic surgeries and treatment for people over 18 who have suffered from inferiority complex for many years and have not been able to afford the surgery they've wanted.
But, surely, isn't there more to this story than the right to beautify oneself?
Khuat Thu Hong, director of Viet Nam Psychology Institute, said she would not encourage people to undergo cosmetic surgery, although everybody has a right to do so.
They would have to carefully consider this decision, Hong said, adding that issues of both physical health and mental well-being were involved.
"While cosmetic surgeries can indeed boost self-confidence and lead to a better life in some cases, it is not one's outer appearance, but one's competence and diligence that are key factors leading to success," she explained.
"Beauty lies in a human being's dignity and spirit. Nobody is going to be attracted by a good appearance with an empty spirit," she added.
Hong cited Vo Thi Hoang Yen, 49, as an example of real success.
Yen, who cannot walk normally because she was affected by polio, was one of 95 international students who won International Fellowship Programme to do a master's degree in the United States. She is now director of Disability Resource and Development (DRD), a non-profit centre for differently-abled people in HCM City.
Game of chance?
One should remember that not all cosmetic surgeries are successful. The two women are lucky, but others have not been so fortunate.
Many women want to be more beautiful but not many can afford the cost of cosmetic surgery as well as the large amount of money needed to maintain their "plastic beauty".
Dr Nguyen Tai Son, head of Central Military Hospital 108's and Maxillofacial and Plastic Surgery Department, said that in recent years, many women had opted to undergo cosmetic surgery to have a V-shaped face or opted for rhinoplasty to mimic the appearance of their idols in movies.
"However, these people know little about financial and other costs of the surgery," he said.
"Whatever you want to alternate on your face, it should be in harmony with other parts," Son said, adding that the patients should take the surgeon's advice and prevent cosmetic surgery "nightmares" that are very difficult to correct.
He said his department received a lot of patients suffering post surgical complications like infections, imbalanced breasts and caseation (a form of necrosis in which diseased tissue forms a firm, dry mass like cheese in appearance).
The example of Phi Thanh Van, well known for having undergone a lot of cosmetic surgery, is worth looking at. In the past, she was glad to be called "the Queen of cosmetic surgery" and willing to tell everyone what she did in her beautification projects. She has recently admitted that her plastic nose has changed shape and faces the risk of caseation.
There is a place for cosmetic surgery, but we should remember that getting a new face is not like buying a new shirt that we can discard when we are dissatisfied with it.
Instead, we could consider this: If we were to pay more attention to making our inner selves more beautiful, we would not only save money, but could end up gaining long-lasting confidence and fulfillment that no cosmetic surgery can deliver. — VNS