SINGAPORE - Face it, being beautiful can open more doors to better opportunities.
And local blogger Peggy Heng, 23, unabashedly admits she has had cosmetic surgery to further her career as a model and beauty contestant.
But she used to criticise others for going under the knife to look better.
The change in attitude is stark. Like many other impressionable wannabes, she has been seduced by the fame and fortune of a falsified face.
And she has become mercenary too - again, unabashedly so.
Just before her trip to Seoul for surgery in July, she offered The New Paper an exclusive look at what she was going in for.
This week, Miss Heng has come out to share what her journey of vanity has been like.
"I feel so wonderful now, even more confident than I ever was," she gushes.
That confidence, she says, is especially vital to a model and pageant queen.
She added: "In the past, I'd be concerned over which angle is better for the cameras, but now I don't have to worry about such details. I'm really pleased with the results."
The surgery - on her face, eyes and nose - cost 16 million won (S$18,000) and was sponsored by Korean cosmetic surgery company Item Clinic.
Not everyone can see the difference before and after the surgery, she concedes.
"Only family members and close friends can tell what's really been done."
That's because people have to see her without her make-up, she says.
The imperfections that she was unhappy with previously included "small and sleepy eyes despite my double eyelids", a round nose tip, a square chin and a flat face.
'I only have one life'
'I only have one life'
Miss Heng explains: "My eyes are now brighter and bigger. I don't have to depend on make-up to create the doll-eyes effect."
Add to that, a smaller and sharper nose, and a face that is no longer flat and concave.
Her protruding chin has also been fixed - it is now V-lined with a more defined jawline.
In return for Item Clinic's sponsorship, she has blogged about her experience and will continue to share updates for the next five years as its ambassador.
"It's human nature to constantly seek perfection. I have only one life," she says.
"Most importantly, I want to live for myself, to do this for my own happiness. And that means I will not be affected by what others think or say of me."
Did her move have anything to do with being a victim of bullying when she was in secondary school? "People called me names like 'horse face', 'banana' and 'peanut' because of my slightly protruding jaw," she recalls.
When she was in her teens, a dentist once suggested that she go under the knife to "correct my under-bite". The procedure is called bimaxillary surgery.
"It was too expensive for me at that age," she says.
Yet Miss Heng admits that the road to changing her face was bumpy - she once sank into a short period of depression.
"The recovery process was painful, especially in the beginning, and I'm not talking about physical pain.
"I felt so negative and emotional about myself and the whole thing (the surgery)."
Day two after the surgery was the most painful, she says.
"I could barely open my eyes with all the discharge (a result of the lateral canthoplasty that was done to help her achieve larger and distinctly vivid eyes) and my face had ballooned beyond imagination," says Miss Heng.
"When I first saw the bandages, I freaked out.
"I was like, is that me? Really? I couldn't make sense of what would happen to my face. But I wasn't too worried that it was a botched job since I was the clinic's ambassador. "Honestly, it's quite painful to be reminded of this most demoralising period of my life."
What helped her pull through the seven days was the support from her family and friends.
"I focused on recovering faster, in the hope that I can see the final result - an even more beautiful me."
She doesn't deny some critics' accusations that she has changed her tune. She had previously blogged against cosmetic surgery.
"That was how I felt when I was younger, but we all go through various phases of thoughts and ideals as we're growing," she says.
"At this stage, after being exposed to more in this (entertainment) industry, I have come to accept the reality that plastic surgery is really very common.
"But not everyone will be happy to announce it. Many tend to pretend that they went off for a holiday and suddenly return looking good and refreshed.
"This world is still superficial to a certain extent, especially in showbiz or front-line service. "You can't deny that good looks will land you more and better opportunities."
Earning $3k to $4k a month
On top of the world
Miss Heng claims that she can easily pocket $3,000 to $4,000 a month from her blog, but that is still nothing compared to what some other top bloggers can earn.
High-profile bloggers like Wendy Cheng (also known as Xiaxue) can pull in an average of $1,500 to $2,000 a week through advertisements, based on the number of readers attracted to their blogs.
A month after her surgery, Miss Heng took the first runner-up position at the Miss Scuba Singapore 2012 and the subsidiary title Miss Beautiful Body.
On Thursday night, she picked up the Miss Physique title at the Best Model of the World (Singapore) 2012 held at Zouk.
Last Saturday, she was named Miss Photogenic and Miss Stylish at the Miss Singapore Bikini International 2012.
Says Miss Heng: "Cosmetic surgery removed my insecurity over my facial flaws and now, I feel like I am on top of my world."
What she had done
According to Miss Elaine Teo, regional marketing manager of Item Clinic, the clinic doctors wanted to create the "Barbie doll" look for Miss Heng.
In total, she underwent five major procedures, performed by three specialists.
FACE: T-osteotomy for V-line mandible contouring and fat transplant. Gathers the bones of the tip of chin and trims the chin line to adjust the ratio of the tip of the chin.
This process also trims the chin line smoothly for people with wide or long chins.
EYES: Full incision double eyelids surgery with magic medial epicanthoplasty. This creates large and distinctly vivid eyes.
It also improves the narrow gap between the eyes and the inclination angle of the inner corner of the eyes.
EYES: Lateral canthoplasty. Helps people have larger and distinctly vivid eyes by extending the length of the outer corner of the eyes.
NOSE: Open rhinoplasty. Corrected Miss Heng's slightly upturned nose so it now slants between 95 and 105 degrees.
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