From my desk-top at a fantastic history lecture by Tim yesterday morning:
It says, in white-out: “LiÃº ZhÅu-chÃ©ng [hearts] GuÅ JÃ¬ng-mÃng.” (Awww…)
Beauty… with Chinese characteristics
Ha, I’m really going overboard with that phrase. There’s not been much to report lately, since other than go to class and study and practice we don’t do much… not that that bothers me. Funny episode in class this week, though: After seeing photos from my glory days, my teacher thanked me emphatically in class for cutting my hair and shaving my beard. She just can’t believe that anyone would actually choose to look like that, and finds it even harder to believe that Jessica liked it. I asked her why, and took the opportunity to ask what the deal was with Chinese people’s obsession with white skin, and she said white seems clean, and darker skin or facial hair looks dirty. Scruff is out. If you didn’t already know, in China it’s the whiter and cleaner the better. No cowboys, and forget playoff beards. Our friends even saw armpit whitening cream in the store the other day. We’ve seen whitening products for body parts I won’t mention here; just take our word for it that in China, white is beautiful.
[Edited to add…]
I just found a description of the apparent “enduring beauty standard” of the Chinese on ChinaCulture.org, thanks to The Journal of Intercultural Learning. Both links have the article’s full-text, and it’s a nice introduction to general traditional Chinese perceptions of feminine beauty, sans reference to feet. But what’s weird is that it gives the impression of describing present day China, as if this traditional perception of feminine beauty still dominates:
…a rosy plump oval face, new-moon-shaped eyebrows, delicate and soft limbs and fingers, and fine porcelain skin. More than skin deep, a Chinese beauty should also have good manners, temperament, tastes, and style of conversation.
Perhaps it still does – most of the teachers at our school seem to be aiming for that standard, actually – but as the Journal points out,
We find the article very interesting, but one might come across very different views when you ask the younger generations, particularly those who were born after the opening-up, i.e. the-post-80s-generation.
Either way, it’s a short article worth the read. I’d be curious to know how the different generations of today’s China feel about it.
I also found it interesting that an article on ‘the’ Chinese perception of beauty, which completely avoids anything negative and upholds a traditional emphasis on feminine morality, happens to come from China’s Ministry of Culture.