Make Me Beautiful

Yufan Lu

2018 - Ongoing


In China, over 10 million people have cosmetic surgeries each year. As it self-discipline on face gets more and more common, and cosmetic surgery becomes an increasingly resorted to measure for common people, I'm interested in the reasons and mechanism behind such zeal.

I went to different cosmetic surgeries for diagnoses, and asked the “beauty designers“ to write surgery plans for my face. Other than pointing out my "defects", they also volunteer to offer me different solutions according to my preference, letting me choose from the most popular types of faces like choosing products on a shelf - sounds like face is my only obstacle to those dream life. I smell my desire and weakness in front of the overwhelming consumerism culture.

Apart from cosmetic surgery diagnoses and photos I took of some cosmetic surgeries, I also collected pre-surgery portrait photos of the people who have already done cosmetic surgeries from cosmetic surgery specialty websites, removed watermarks added by the websites to return their original look, and cut patterns on the portraits with a knife, before attaching to each of them thoughts shared by people who have done cosmetic surgery in my own handwriting.These photos remind me of death masks, post-mortem photos, or perhaps all the photos - as the moment they are being made suggests the past and the lost. But there are more to these portraits: hope, insecurity, determination, farewell, secret…

The project is ongoing, and I wish I could eventually make a photobook out of it.

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  • My cosmetic surgery diagnosis 1

  • Inside a cosmetic surgery beauty consulting room in Beijing, China

  • My cosmetic surgery diagnosis 2

  • At the doorstep of a cosmetic surgery in Beijing, China

  • My cosmetic surgery diagnosis 3

  • Having a skin test at a cosmetic surgery in Beijing, China

  • A corner of a cosmetic surgery beauty consulting room, Tianjin, China

  • Obsession

  • My cosmetic surgery diagnosis 4

  • Time tunnel 1

  • A staircase nicknamed "time tunnel" at a cosmetic surgery, Beijing, China

  • Time tunnel 2

  • My cosmetic surgery diagnosis 5

  • A mirror full of fingerprints, recreated from a mirror I saw at a cosmetic surgery in Tianjin, China

  • These are eight photos of people who have done cosmetic surgery, taken before the surgeries were done. The photos are published on websites specialized in cosmetic surgery sharing and searching, along with their selfie photos after the surgery and their "feelings" throughout their journey towards beauty. Although the "feelings" are claimed to be written by these people themselves, they appear rather publicity-like. I saved their pre-surgery photos, removed the commercial watermarks added by the website on them, used knife to cut on them, and searched for real feelings people who have done cosmetic surgery left on public forums, TV speeches and so on to pair with the photos that are restored and processed again.

    "I smile every time I see myself in the mirror."

  • "It is the first time I was called a “Goddess”.
    It is the first time I was favored by a prince-like guy.
    It is the first time I liked being photographed.
    It is the first time I think my money was well spent.
    It is the first time that I know pretty people are treated differently.
    It is the first time that no one calls me ugly or a man.
    It is the first time I dare to post my photo on social media, saying
    that I look a bit off color today.
    It is the first time I dare to speak up for myself without worrying
    about comments like “Ugly people always make more troubles”.

    Even though I’m from an ordinary family, people think I’m rich.
    As long as my personality is not too bad I can be popular."

  • "My desire for cosmetic surgery was born when I was a fourth-grade
    student in primary school. It may sound unimaginable but in that young
    mind, apart from multiplication maths, are plans of how I should wound
    myself in the future. And, until high school graduation, I never appeared
    in single one of group photos.

    First night after the surgery, I kept throwing up because of anesthetic
    allergies. I was at the edge of collapsing, but I at last had the courage to
    take out the few photos I had of myself, and looked at them through the
    gauze. The young me had hidden double eye lid, quite puffy eyes, weird
    nose and a fairly acceptable oval face. With half-abased, half-angry
    expressions, I stared into the camera.

    “Farewell.” I said."

  • "Sometimes I also wonder
    Who’s the person in the mirror?"

  • "I’ve had cosmetic surgeries for thirteen times.
    I became the beauty in people’s eyes.
    Suddenly people treated me differently.
    It’s like a dream.
    I’m living a fake life,
    spending everyday like a heroine of idol drama.
    Some people call me a cosmetic surgery monster,
    calling my face fake,
    and the kindness and love I gained because of my face are all fake.
    But so what? At least I gained them.

    Without good appearance, people won’t even want to know your inner world.

    Sorry, I had come to terms with this world that judges people by appearances."