It had to happen: a beauty contest for the surgically enhanced. The inevitable took place in Budapest on Friday night, when the city staged Miss Plastic Hungary. And, since behind every cosmetically amended woman there is a surgeon, there were prizes for the scalpel-wielders, too.
It was a night for unnatural beauties. Contestants showed off breast implants, nose jobs and facelifts as Miss Plastic Hungary 2009 strove to promote the benefits of plastic surgery in a country where such enhancements are viewed mostly with a wary eye. "I think this competition is long overdue," said Marton Szipal, a photographer and one of the judges. "Hungarians used to laugh about plastic surgery but it's time for Hungarian women to care more about their appearance. They are the most beautiful in Europe."
To qualify for the pageant, the 18 Hungarian contestants had to prove they'd gone under the knife – mere Botox or collagen injections did not count. Nearly all of them showed off augmented breasts, while reshaped noses were also popular. One finalist had surgically adjusted toes.
The organisers claimed the women were expected to demonstrate "a perfect harmony of body and soul", but the three-part contest concentrated almost exclusively on their physical attributes, leaving even the conspicuous wishes for world peace, common in more traditional beauty pageants, missing.
Entrants, who were at least 18 years old, included a former rhythmic gymnast, a firefighter married to a police officer, a mother of three and several strippers. There was a separate category for women aged over 30.
The rules, should anyone think of replicating the event in footballers' wives land, were particular about who could, or could not, compete. They declared the contest open to any 18-year-old who "has had local anaesthetic or dormant plastic surgery. The so-called ambulant injection treatments such as Botox, hyaluronic acid or collagen injections, furthermore, lip treatments like Artecoll, are not sufficient for applying for the contest. Mechanical skin treatment or that with laser or acid are subject to individual reconsideration".
The overall winner, Reka Urban, a 22-year-old hostess, won an apartment in Budapest, while the first runner-up, Edina Kulcsar, was given a new car and the second runner-up, Alexandra Horvath, took home diamond jewellery worth two million forints (£6,750). Their surgeons also received awards.
Ms Horvath's plastic surgeon, Dr Tamas Rozsos, said the contest showed that cosmetic corrections did not have to be about oversized breasts, bulbous lips and skin stretched to near tearing point.
"This is about restoring harmony... eliminating asymmetries and giving women the opportunity to have normal features," Dr Rozsos said. "Plastic surgery has a bad reputation in Hungary, but it is mostly due to the exaggerations."
Hungary has been hit hard by the global economic crisis, with the government forced to scale back spending on health services, but Dr Rozsos said the number of plastic surgeries has been rising year by year.
"People for whom this is important always find the money," he said.