Young aspiring internet stars resort to plastic surgery to increase their chances of success in the Chinese live-streaming industry. Samantha Vadas reports.
An office building in the suburbs of Beijing. The last place you'd expect to find this. Online personalities working around the clock. Getting friendly with fans and encouraging them to buy virtual gifts. Which they then redeem for cash. It's all part of a live video steaming phenomenon currently taking China by storm. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER ANITA LI, SAYING: I'm Reuters Anita Li in Shanghai. Hundreds of millions of internet users here in China are now participating in this kind of live streaming. It's an explosive market which barely existed three years ago, and now rakes in around four billion dollars a year. But for some women hoping to tap into the booming industry, it comes at a high price" Jing Qi is one of those finding online stardom. The 27 year old is about to undergo a 5 hour surgery. Which she says she hopes will make her more attractive and boost her following. It's costing her more than 14 thousand dollars. That's 10 times her monthly wage in her advertising job. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 27-YEAR-OLD LIVE STREAMING ANCHOR, JING QI, SAYING "Once you manage to breathe through the nose and not the mouth, and when the swelling goes away, then you will become very beautiful. 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." And she's not alone. Around 95 percent of anchors have cosmetic surgery. according to Jin Xing who's cashing in on China's rising appetite for beauty. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CEO OF SOYOUNG, A WEBSITE PROVIDING LOCAL PLASTIC SURGERY HOSPITAL INFORMATION, JIN XING, SAYING: " It is very difficult to cheat in video, so a host's look really matters, so many people resort to plastic surgeries, so they can get paid more." Three weeks later Jing is back streaming live for her fans. But her road to self-improvement is far from over. Her next step will be a lower eyelid extension. Which she hopes will make her even more famous.