Thursday, March 31, 2005

Yo, the Chinese wanna be like Yao

Thousands of Chinese are undergoing painful operations to be taller, having surgeons stick pins in their legs and turning screws to lengthen their leg bones.


Or should I say, Yao.

There's mostly definitely an epidemic of height discrimination going on in the world's fastest-growing market, and it's market reforms that are partly to blame for the Chinese people's obsession with being taller.

Reports the LA Times:

For decades, height was largely a nonissue in China. Deng Xiaoping was one of the giants of the country's modern history even though he stood only about 5 feet tall.

But then came the market-oriented reforms of the 1980s, and Chinese began to face an explosion of lifestyle choices. Cosmetic surgery and other appearance-related industries became big business.

These days, China is inundated with images of long-legged success stories. From fashion magazines to billboards to TV shows, young people look up to icons such as Lu Yan, an international supermodel who stands 5 feet 10, and NBA star Yao Ming, who at 7 feet 6 is trumpeted as the walking Great Wall of China.

You have to be a certain height to get into certain schools or land certain jobs, even seemingly low-level posts as driving a bus.

It's somewhat reminiscent of the movie Gattaca, where a guy in a futuristic society undergoes a painful operation to lengthen his legs so he can be an astronaut.

Randy Newman oughta dub his song "Short People" in Cantonese and re-release over in the land of the height-obsessed.

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