Are Chinese people crazy superficial?

Picture from Flickr member kaybee07

Picture from Flickr member kaybee07

In the Western world everywhere you go and every time you turn on the TV you see beautiful people or perfect models posing in fashion magazines or advertising. Everywhere you are confronted with the so-called “beauty guidelines” everybody is supposed to follow. In my opinion the beauty and fashion industry couldn’t be more wrong and is teaching false values to today’s society. Shocking to me, this situation turned out to be much more intense in China.

When I came to China I was overwhelmed with compliments everywhere I went. “You have such a beautiful white skin!” and “Your eyes are so blue!” became my daily conversation started when I met new people or just random people on the streets. At first, of course, I took it as a positive compliment but later I began to question China’s beauty ideal. Almost every cover of the Chinese version of Cosmopolitan and Co. shows a Western woman or a “Westernized” Chinese woman.

Also one big thing in China: Whitening creams. Chinese women, AND MEN, spend thousands of RMB for special creams that makes their skin whiter. As a foreigner it is especially hard to find beauty products without the whitening stuff in it. But then I have to ask myself, is this any different than those tanning creams in the West?

Colored contact lenses are also experiencing a huge boom in China. Everywhere you go you see girls, again: AND MEN, wearing

photo by Weird News

photo by Weird News

them. Sometimes they just look unnatural and often really really scary. Often bought in combination with colored contact lenses: double eyelid tape. This kind of tape is glued onto the monolid and is creating a Western kind of double lid. Every time I see a girl wearing those and colored contacts I ask myself: Why? Why hide the natural beauty of an Asian face? But then again, is this any different than those teeth whitening, eyebrow coloring and extreme hair dying in the Western world?

However, I did not only receive good compliments in China. When my ex-boyfriend introduced me to his friends, they told him that I was kind of “big” (that’s what he told me afterwards). This was really shocking to me, because where I come from I am considered just plain normal! But of course, if you look around in China you do not see a lot of bigger Chinese people and if you do, they are mostly men. I feel like Chinese women have a lot of pressure in staying thin. And with thin I mean REALLY THIN. Actually, it is actually said to be the case that Western women have thicker bones than Asian women and therefore tend to be curvier.

I learned how to deal with such comments or compliments – both good and bad – but what are Chinese women going to do? I feel like in today’s Chinese society they have such a big burden to bear: They need to be thin, have beautiful white skin, double lid eyes and need to find a husband – preferably really rich – before the age of 25 just because today’s society says so! Of course I am sure you can compare this to beauty ideals in the West but to me it just seems to be much more crazy in China than in Europe or the USA.

Is life for Western women in China even harder? I don’t know. On the one hand you almost permanently stand out. This can sometimes be quite flattering and sometimes be just annoying. On the other hand it can also be hard to make new “real” friends as everyone might want to be friends with you because you are a foreigner.

So are Chinese people really superficial? I don’t think more than people in the West but maybe in a different way. I, as an outsider, just happen to notice those differences more and therefore it seems to be much more superficial than it maybe really is compared to the Western world.

What do you think? Have you made similar experiences? Please share your opinion in a comment below!


13 thoughts on “Are Chinese people crazy superficial?

  1. skin whitening is not about getting closer to Western countries, it’s just they REALLY believe in low and high class people and they think that having tanned skin is like being a farmer or any low paid low class labor work so sun touches your skin and makes you tanned – you don’t need to work or you work in office = you don’t get tanned. besides for women there’s same pressure to be beautiful like for guys to be rich, have a flat to get married etc. just a culture difference we might find shocking but they don’t really feel it 🙂

  2. i forgot to add – they react really funny seeing stereotype white person, in Shanghai I went to see with my husband a bund and there was chinese family asking me to make photos with their son haha like a star 😀

    • Thank you for your comment! i’m sorry i may not have expressed myself clearly enough. I did not mean that Asian who whiten their skin want to look like Western people. I know that they do it because of the class thinking, that’s why I compared it to tanning in the West. When Western people tan their skin they also do not want to look like Asians or darker skinned people. There are just so many commercial about whitening and almost no products without whitening ingredients available so that it seems extreme to me as an “outsider”. Like I said I believe that those differences are just much more obvious to me because I am from a different culture. The Western beauty sector is just as extreme as the one in Asia.

      • You’re right in that sense. The East is obsessed with white because its a symbol of richness, feminine and beauty. Just like the West is obsessed with tanning because its a symbol of well, I’m not sure but its something. But the pressure to look white did indeed come with the advent of globalisation and the wide availability of plastic surgery to try and ‘fit in’ with everyone else.

      • Yes and I feel like its really a problem in today’s fashion industry. They need to put more models of other races than white on their front pages, campaigns and fashion shows… but the trend goes Asian already.. i’ll be writing about that soon.

  3. I have a Chinese husband and every now and then he will occasionally pinch me all over (thighs, arms, back) and will sometimes say I need to work on my fitness. I’m a f-ing SIZE ZERO! This really hurts my feelings but I don’t know how to approach the subject because I know it’s a Chinese thing to especially want a woman that is not larger than the male (He’s basically skin and bones, so I’m probably going to have to be anorexic now). Does anyone have some words of support on the subject? 😦

    • you have to tell him that that’s not okay in your culture. I dont even think it is normal in Chinese culture. Don’t make the same mistake like me and ignore this kind of behavior because you think it is culture related. It is not.

      • Ok.. I will.. He’s not abusive to me in any way really, he tells me quite often that he thinks I’m cute or pretty so it’s not like he thinks I’m a disgusting pig (I’m 5’5″, 110lbs and a bit pear shaped).. I just have the impression that Chinese are more blatant when talking about weight whereas Americans take offense to it. Is this true? This behavior came to me a quite a shock because he’s always been such a gentleman in every other aspect.. I’m thinking that this vanity about how much a woman should weigh is ingrained in his mind from Chinese culture, as opposed to him just being an asshole.

  4. Wow, he did this to you too? Would you mind giving other examples of things he would do that made you think “if he was a westerner I’d break up with him” as you said in your post? If it’s too personal, I understand. Its hard to figure out what’s culture related and what’s not in these relationships

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