As I entered into the metro station I could not help but to stop, stare, and study the bright advertisement in front of me. An advertisement that, even if you could not understand Chinese, its image spoke so loud to you the language barrier was irrelevant.
I noticed the stares by the security guards as I snapped multiple photos of the billboard. By the looks of their facial expressions I easily assumed that they passed this advertisement 100 times and were not intrigued or even interested in considering the deeper meaning behind the photo. (But thanks to my media studies back grown I have a keen eye to hidden messages.) In any case, I continued to take photos.
What shocked me most about the photo was how thoroughly it depicted its message of borderline starvation. The ad showcased a woman squeezing her two fingers around another women’s waist, suggesting the extreme petite and slimness of her figure. Of course the slim figured woman standing in the advert promoted confidence and strength. I mean, why wouldn’t she? She has society’s most desired body- a completely photoshopped, unobtainable figure. Not to mention the woman’s face was purposely cropped out of the photo, further expressing the idea that a woman’s body is the most important part.
I have great empathy for us as women. Sadly, as I reside in China, my empathy grows greater.
Since living in China one of the main things I have noticed within the female community is how important it is to BE and REMAIN young and slim.
Yes, if you have not noticed, Chinese women are, for the most part, of a smaller frame. A frame that, as foreigners, we may consider a little too small. But being slim and looking young is more than a want to many Chinese women; it’s a sense of importance and security. It’s an acceptance stamp into Chinese society. ‘You are not beautiful if you are not slim. A size four is a little too big, and anyone over 35 is a little too old.’
This issue becomes a greater problem when I hear my primary students say, ‘Teacher, he is fat. I’m slim” or “Teacher why don’t you have a husband?” If a child is being called fat in grade two, than by grade 6, it can be assumed that, he or she will have body weight issues. These are questions and statements that students in grades two and three should never have to concern themselves with.
With all of these media and advertisement persuasions we end up creating people more interested in the physical makeup of their bodies instead of the content of their soul. Is my physical appearance worth more than the health and condition of my body? Why is the size of my waist more important than the mass of information I have in my brain? What if I’m naturally bigger? What if I haven’t found my husband by 30? Am I a curse to society? Or should I work a little harder to be “more attractive” like the woman in the picture? The answer truly is up to perspective, and culture. However, I think that advertisements, like the one shown above, are great ways to begin discussions about women’s health, especially with adolescence. A single step towards self-health and appreciation goes a long way.