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Aspiring internet stars turn to surgery to gain popularity

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 02:00

Young aspiring internet stars resort to plastic surgery to increase their chances of success in the Chinese live-streaming industry. Edward Baran reports.

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Jing Qi is about to undergo a five-hour rhinoplasty and fat transfer surgery that she hopes will make her look more attractive. The 27-year-old is among tens of thousands hoping for fame as an anchor on a live video streaming platform in China. Appearing on the shows allows her to earn extra money when fans buy her virtual gifts which she then redeems for cash. SOUNDBITE, 27-YEAR-OLD LIVE STREAMING ANCHOR, JING QI (Mandarin): "The surgery will make my live streaming performance nicer, and yes, greatly increase the number of my fans. This is because today's society values personal appearance." The surgery is costing Jing 14 and a half thousand US dollars -- ten times her monthly wage. Data from China's Internet Network Information Center shows some 47 per cent of internet users in China now participate in live streaming, Agents like Deng Jian are trying to capitalise on the billion-dollar industry. His anchor girls work each day round the clock in three shifts in Beijing - sitting in a small anchor booth, flirting with fans and encouraging them to buy gifts. Sometimes they go further with provocative gestures and language, but this has resulted in a government crackdown on some platforms. As for Jing, a day after her surgery, she's struggling to breathe through her mouth as her nose is blocked, but says it's all worth it. SOUNDBITE, 27-YEAR-OLD LIVE STREAMING ANCHOR, JING QI (Mandarin): "Yes, this is all worth it. You trade 72 hours for the beauty that will last for three to five years, it is totally worth it." Just three weeks later Jing is back with her fans -- but the road to success isn't over. Next she'll undergo lower-eyelid extension surgery, an operation she says will make her eyes appear sparkly and bright. All part of her never-ending quest to attract even more followers.

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Aspiring internet stars turn to surgery to gain popularity

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 02:00