Beauty and the beast gets a Vietnamese twist

By Moc Mien    November 28, 2018 | 02:48 pm GMT+7
Once upon a time, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, an ‘ugly duckling’ was born.

She had a protruding forehead, crooked nose, buck teeth and dark skin.

Her name was Pham Thi Duyen,

She was constantly taunted for her looks by many people around her, particularly her schoolmates.

"I was rarely called by my real name. They called me ‘the girl who eats papayas without a spoon,’ ‘mouth having roof protection from rain,’ ‘ugly as a toad’...

"My classmates often flattened my bicycle tires and shoved me to the ground. I would cry and ask my mother why I was born ugly like this."

Duyen before and after the plastics surgery

Then and now: Duyen before and after the plastic surgery.

After finishing secondary school, Duyen did not want to remain "invisible" in the classroom, so she left school to find a job in Ho Chi Minh City.

However, she was rejected by all the companies, until she was admitted by a tailoring shop where interaction with customers was not required.

In 2014, Duyen got married to a man from the northern Nam Dinh Province, who was five years older than her and worked as an interior designer.

Her parents-in-law, who did not want their only son to get married to such an ugly woman, did not attend their wedding. So her husband was not willing to take Duyen to his hometown for the Tet Lunar New Year holiday.

In 2016, the young couple welcomed their first child in happiness. But conflicts arose soon. Without any insurance, Duyen had to depend on her husband financially when she became a stay-at-home mom.

"My husband was a good person, but whenever we fought, he pointed out my dependence and ugliness... I was so sad and frustrated that I attempted suicide several times. Once, I took sleeping pills, but woke up at the cry of my son."

When her son was 5 months old, Duyen broke up with her husband without her family knowing. She took her child to Hanoi, rented a small apartment, and sold products online, earning around VND4 million ($171) a month.

In July 2018, as live streaming became a social media sales trend, Duyen started to follow it.

However, when she went live, she received rude, cruel comments. "Too ugly to livestream"; "looking at your face makes me not want to buy anything"; "cover your face please" were some of the insults hurled at her.

Gradually, she became depressed as people bought fewer products and gifted more insults. In her last live streaming in mid-August, one person commented that she has "an offensive ugliness."

Duyen burst into tears and cried in pain: "Do you know your words are killing me? Do you know how much I suffer? Why do you have to insult and torture me...?"

After that final straw, Duyen decided to deactivate Facebook and turn off her cell phone. She closed herself off in her room, only eating bread and instant noodles, and hugging her son, crying. She lost 6 kg in 3 weeks.

"When my mother saw the video, she passed out from shock. She thought I was having a happy life with my husband in Ho Chi Minh City," Duyen said.

Duyen’s mother, Tran Thi Thoan, rushed to Hanoi to find her daughter. Seeing Duyen’s emaciated body, the mother took her to the hospital. When Duyen got better, her mother took Duyen’s son to Dak Lak.

Duyen cries over the insulting comments from customers on her appearance on Facebook. She said: People think their comment is simply a joke, but theyre dangerous. They could destroy people anytime.

Duyen cries over the insulting comments from customers on her appearance on Facebook. She said: "People think their comment is simply a joke, but they're dangerous. They could destroy people anytime."

As recovered from her depression, a friend suggested that Duyen registers for a free cosmetic surgery program. She was lucky enough to be chosen. The plastic surgeons redefined her jawline, lowered her cheekbones, and adjusted her teeth to give Duyen a new look.

A month after the surgery, no one could recognize her.

"I have never looked at the mirror for any length of time, but now I keep looking at myself. I never thought I could become so beautiful."

The days that she had hid behind a facial mask, hoping to remain invisible, are finally gone. With her new look, she has become more confident. "Now I only wish to have a stable job earning money for my son back home. I hope all the good things will come."

Duyen’s mother Thoan was not able to recognize her daughter after the surgery.

"I was against cosmetic surgery because I am worried that it might affect my daughter’s health. But now I’m very glad. I hope she will get a better life after all she’s been through."

go to top