When a woman has to go to court to prove she's naturally good-looking, we've reached peak beauty

You can be perfect, alone and scrutinised - or a likeable mess

Annie Rice
Friday 16 October 2015 17:17 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


A lawsuit hitting the headlines in China has just got weirder. Chinese actor Angelababy is suing a clinic for defamation after it claimed that she had plastic surgery. As part of her case, the star, whose real name is Yeung Wing, had a series of medical examinations including X-rays and facial probing.

Upon completion of the tests, hospital chief Qi Zuoliang declared her looks to be genuine. "Baby's entire head and facial bones do not have any signs of incisions," he said. You’d be forgiven for being thankful here that you don’t need a male doctor to justify the authenticity of your bone structure.

Even more bizarrely, the 26-year-old’s loving husband Huang Xiaoming defended her in 2014 by saying that: "Actually she sometimes looks quite ugly to me." Well, that’s going to be an awkward car journey home.

Wing is seeking compensation of 500,000 yuan (£51,000) in this public battle. £51,000: the price of natural beauty. The strange nature of this case is almost funny. It’s easy to file it under‘stuff that happens over there’ in our minds, but the truth is that the situation Angelababy finds herself in is not unique to China or to celebrity.

There is a battle faced by every woman to be pretty, but not intimidating; funny but not over-bearing; smart but not threatening; to be popular but approachable. To be the perfect balance of being an attractive, desirable specimen who is also a ‘girls’ girl’. As Tammy Wynette so articulately sang, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.

The unattainable ideals of beauty weigh heavy in the media’s unwavering obsession with the appearance of women in the public eye. The magnified interest in the minutest changes to Jennifer Lawrence’s waistline is frankly stressful. The unattainability of their beauty is part of the charm, however; it’s them and us. We can take on Kim Kardashian’s workout plan and eat like Cara Delevingne until the cows come home and we have to eat the cow because we’re so hungry. The whole point is that they are better than us: that sells the industry and keeps the gossip mag revenues rolling in.

But then, if you do turn out to be pretty and/or thin, the problems still arise. Here’s some water-cooler office chat I was privy to yesterday:

Girl gang of two: Oh Molly [let’s call her Molly], you’re looking so thin - do you eat food? You should eat more!

Molly, (looking uncomfortable): I eat…

Girl gang of two: Well, you should eat more. We say this half out of concern and half out of envy.

Earlier this year, Michelle Miller, the former JP Morgan wealth manager who is now a publishing sensation wrote a column in The Times declaring that being a ‘7 out of 10’ was the secret to her success. She said seven is the sweet spot between being impressive but not alienating. Now, I am morally opposed to rating humans in a numerical scale, but the fact that this was a socially acceptable statement is troubling. So now we should strive to be a seven? What if you wake up in the morning and you’re a three? What about a nine?

The reason Angelababy’s case is so disturbing is because she’s had to file a lawsuit because the alternative is to be seen as a some kind of cheat. Because plastic surgery induced beauty isn’t as good as the beauty you were born with, apparently – even though you’d think it would be advisable if you’re a 2 out of 10 and you know you can’t get on in life without adding five more points to the scale.

The uncomfortable hoops Yeung has jumped through to ‘prove her worth’ expose the reality of the beauty myth for what it really is. But I think I’ve nailed it: you can be perfect, alone and scrutinised - or a likeable mess. That sound about right? Now all we have to do is choose.

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