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Move Over ‘A4 Waist’, Here Comes the ‘iPhone6 Legs’ Hype – Growing Concerns Over China’s Online Skinny Trends

Now that China’s ‘A4 waist’ online challenge has swept across Sina Weibo, it is time for another trend to show off how skinny you are: the ‘iPhone 6 legs’ (iPhone6腿) rage. Despite the wide propagation of slimming trends, voices opposing these sort of hypes are growing louder.

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Now that China’s ‘A4 waist’ online challenge has swept across Sina Weibo, it is time for another trend to show off how skinny you are: the ‘iPhone 6 legs’ (iPhone6腿) rage. Despite the wide propagation of slimming trends on Chinese social media, voices opposing these sort of hypes are growing louder.

A new trend has taken over Chinese social media. Over the past few days, ‘iPhone 6 legs’ have become a trending topic, with thousands of female netizens posting pictures that show how their smartphones can cover their skinny legs. Although many netizens ridicule the trend, there are also some who worry that these hypes propagate unhealthy beauty standards.

From A4 waist to iPhone legs

Lately, China has seen several trends that have propagated a thin figure as the ruling beauty standard. Since September 2015, an online challenge swept across Sina Weibo, WeChat and other major social media in China, where the goal was for people to try and reach their belly button backhand. Soon, two new challenges emerged, that focused on putting coins on your collarbone and holding a pencil with the bottom line of your breast. The latter is believed to come from Japan, but was no less popular amongst Chinese netizens.

collarbone

Along with these challenges came an online obsession with the so-called ‘mermaid line’, ‘vest line’ and ‘bikini bridge’ – the former two referring to the shape of one’s abs, the latter concerns the visible ends of one’s pelvis.

a4waist

Recently, ‘A4 waist’ (A4腰) pictures took Chinese social media by storm. For this rage, girls posed with an A4 paper before their waist; if there was no waist visible besides the paper, their figure was slim enough for the challenge.

iphone6legs2

Social media’s propagation of beauty criteria does not stop here. Another hype has now become trending on Weibo, where girls are showing off their legs with an iPhone6 in front of it. The supposed rule is: when the iPhone6 covers the width of your legs (knee area), your legs conform to the standard beauty ideal.

50元手腕

Trends like these are quickly followed by others. Sina Weibo now also shows a series of photos where young girls are wrapping paper money around their wrist to show off their slenderness under the hashtag of ’50 RMB Wrist’ (50元手腕).

Unhealthy standards

On Weibo, not all netizens are pleased with yet another beauty trend. “These everyday trends bore me,” one netizen says: “Your standard of beauty is not healthy!”

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Weibo’s recent trends in attaining a slim figure have resulted in a tremendous amount of individual postings, where mostly women are either showing off their perfect figure by succeeding the challenge, or where they are expressing their firm resolution to achieve these results. Influential social media users have released various tips to acquire the perfect figure. As iRead (@壹读), a popular media source on Sina Weibo, states in its video: “One no longer has the courage to post to their friends if one does not have the right body lines.”

Although people are still posting pictures hiding their waist behind a vertically held piece of paper and public Weibo accounts still provide tips to slim your waist, the voices opposing these kinds of trends are becoming louder; Chinese (social) media are becoming seemingly more aware about the beauty ideals it promotes.

Most importantly, people now voice their concerns about the potential health risks of China’s recent slimming trends. One article on Weibo has suggested that trends like the A4 waist could potentially lead to eating disorders, stating that 95% of people suffering from them are young girls who are obsessed with losing weight to meet the ruling “beauty standards”.

iPad legs

But health is not the only concern. Feminist online platform Voice of Feminists (@女权之声) recently published two articles (article 1; article 2) criticising the new trends. They pointed out that such beauty standards are not just “unhealthy”, but also indicate that women are being objectified in a masculine society. The articles argue against homogeneous and male-dominated beauty standards. They have also launched a campaign for women to love their waists – regardless of whether it is A4 size or not.

The A4 waist phenomenon has now also traveled to other international social media platforms, and netizens outside of China post their responses to the trend on Facebook and Twitter. Some women have posed with their diploma’s in front of their waists, propagating that brains go above beauty. Their message, similar to that of Voice of Feminists, is yet again imported back to Sina Weibo. iRead and Nouvelle d’Europe (@欧洲时报) both published articles about these foreign netizens, stating that “A4 paper is only made to prove how clever and creative you can be. Women don’t need to be compared by a fuc*ing sheet of paper”.

iphone6tui

With the new ‘iPhone6 trend’, many netizens seem fed up with China’s skinny trends, calling the girls who post these pictures “brain-dead”, and wondering how the general beauty trend has come to be so unrealistic.

Some netizens have a different problem, with many stating: “I don’t even have an iPhone 6.” Other netizens want to start their own trends: “I don’t have iPhone 6 legs,” one Weibo users comment: “but I have iPad legs.”

“Forget the iPhone 6 legs,” yet another says: “These are Macbook legs.”

One thing’s for sure – with China’s latest skinny trend, everyone seems to wants Apples.

– By Diandian Guo & Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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  1. Avatar

    asfddsa

    April 12, 2016 at 11:51 am

    “y published two articles (article 1; article 2) criticising the new trends. They pointed out that such beauty standards are not just “unhealthy”, but also indicate that women are being objectified in a masculine society. The articles argue against homogeneous and male-dominated beauty standards.”

    There’s no mention of masculine social dominance in these articles…. you just wasted my time reading them.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

A Brew of Controversy: Lu Xun and LELECHA’s ‘Smoky’ Oolong Tea

Chinese tea brand LELECHA faced backlash for using the iconic literary figure Lu Xun to promote their “Smoky Oolong” milk tea, sparking controversy over the exploitation of his legacy.

Manya Koetse

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It seemed like such a good idea. For this year’s World Book Day, Chinese tea brand LELECHA (乐乐茶) put a spotlight on Lu Xun (鲁迅, 1881-1936), one of the most celebrated Chinese authors the 20th century and turned him into the the ‘brand ambassador’ of their special new “Smoky Oolong” (烟腔乌龙) milk tea.

LELECHA is a Chinese chain specializing in new-style tea beverages, including bubble tea and fruit tea. It debuted in Shanghai in 2016, and since then, it has expanded rapidly, opening dozens of new stores not only in Shanghai but also in other major cities across China.

Starting on April 23, not only did the LELECHA ‘Smoky Oolong” paper cups feature Lu Xun’s portrait, but also other promotional materials by LELECHA, such as menus and paper bags, accompanied by the slogan: “Old Smoky Oolong, New Youth” (“老烟腔,新青年”). The marketing campaign was a joint collaboration between LELECHA and publishing house Yilin Press.

Lu Xun featured on LELECHA products, image via Netease.

The slogan “Old Smoky Oolong, New Youth” is a play on the Chinese magazine ‘New Youth’ or ‘La Jeunesse’ (新青年), the influential literary magazine in which Lu’s famous short story, “Diary of a Madman,” was published in 1918.

The design of the tea featuring Lu Xun’s image, its colors, and painting style also pay homage to the era in which Lu Xun rose to prominence.

Lu Xun (pen name of Zhou Shuren) was a leading figure within China’s May Fourth Movement. The May Fourth Movement (1915-24) is also referred to as the Chinese Enlightenment or the Chinese Renaissance. It was the cultural revolution brought about by the political demonstrations on the fourth of May 1919 when citizens and students in Beijing paraded the streets to protest decisions made at the post-World War I Versailles Conference and called for the destruction of traditional culture[1].

In this historical context, Lu Xun emerged as a significant cultural figure, renowned for his critical and enlightened perspectives on Chinese society.

To this day, Lu Xun remains a highly respected figure. In the post-Mao era, some critics felt that Lu Xun was actually revered a bit too much, and called for efforts to ‘demystify’ him. In 1979, for example, writer Mao Dun called for a halt to the movement to turn Lu Xun into “a god-like figure”[2].

Perhaps LELECHA’s marketing team figured they could not go wrong by creating a milk tea product around China’s beloved Lu Xun. But for various reasons, the marketing campaign backfired, landing LELECHA in hot water. The topic went trending on Chinese social media, where many criticized the tea company.

 
Commodification of ‘Marxist’ Lu Xun
 

The first issue with LELECHA’s Lu Xun campaign is a legal one. It seems the tea chain used Lu Xun’s portrait without permission. Zhou Lingfei, Lu Xun’s great-grandson and president of the Lu Xun Cultural Foundation, quickly demanded an end to the unauthorized use of Lu Xun’s image on tea cups and other merchandise. He even hired a law firm to take legal action against the campaign.

Others noted that the image of Lu Xun that was used by LELECHA resembled a famous painting of Lu Xun by Yang Zhiguang (杨之光), potentially also infringing on Yang’s copyright.

But there are more reasons why people online are upset about the Lu Xun x LELECHA marketing campaign. One is how the use of the word “smoky” is seen as disrespectful towards Lu Xun. Lu Xun was known for his heavy smoking, which ultimately contributed to his early death.

It’s also ironic that Lu Xun, widely seen as a Marxist, is being used as a ‘brand ambassador’ for a commercial tea brand. This exploits Lu Xun’s image for profit, turning his legacy into a commodity with the ‘smoky oolong’ tea and related merchandise.

“Such blatant commercialization of Lu Xun, is there no bottom limit anymore?”, one Weibo user wrote. Another person commented: “If Lu Xun were still alive and knew he had become a tool for capitalists to make money, he’d probably scold you in an article. ”

On April 29, LELECHA finally issued an apology to Lu Xun’s relatives and the Lu Xun Cultural Foundation for neglecting the legal aspects of their marketing campaign. They claimed it was meant to promote reading among China’s youth. All Lu Xun materials have now been removed from LELECHA’s stores.

Statement by LELECHA.

On Chinese social media, where the hot tea became a hot potato, opinions on the issue are divided. While many netizens think it is unacceptable to infringe on Lu Xun’s portrait rights like that, there are others who appreciate the merchandise.

The LELECHA controversy is similar to another issue that went trending in late 2023, when the well-known Chinese tea chain HeyTea (喜茶) collaborated with the Jingdezhen Ceramics Museum to release a special ‘Buddha’s Happiness’ (佛喜) latte tea series adorned with Buddha images on the cups, along with other merchandise such as stickers and magnets. The series featured three customized “Buddha’s Happiness” cups modeled on the “Speechless Bodhisattva” (无语菩萨), which soon became popular among netizens.

The HeyTea Buddha latte series, including merchandise, was pulled from shelves just three days after its launch.

However, the ‘Buddha’s Happiness’ success came to an abrupt halt when the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of Shenzhen intervened, citing regulations that prohibit commercial promotion of religion. HeyTea wasted no time challenging the objections made by the Bureau and promptly removed the tea series and all related merchandise from its stores, just three days after its initial launch.

Following the Happy Buddha and Lu Xun milk tea controversies, Chinese tea brands are bound to be more careful in the future when it comes to their collaborative marketing campaigns and whether or not they’re crossing any boundaries.

Some people couldn’t care less if they don’t launch another campaign at all. One Weibo user wrote: “Every day there’s a new collaboration here, another one there, but I’d just prefer a simple cup of tea.”

By Manya Koetse

[1]Schoppa, Keith. 2000. The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History. New York: Columbia UP, 159.

[2]Zhong, Xueping. 2010. “Who Is Afraid Of Lu Xun? The Politics Of ‘Debates About Lu Xun’ (鲁迅论争lu Xun Lun Zheng) And The Question Of His Legacy In Post-Revolution China.” In Culture and Social Transformations in Reform Era China, 257–284, 262.

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Zara Dress Goes Viral in China for Resemblance to Haidilao Apron

Who’s gonna buy this Zara dress in China? “I’m afraid that someone will say I stole the apron from Haidilao.”

Manya Koetse

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A short dress sold by Zara has gone viral in China for looking like the aprons used by the popular Chinese hotpot chain Haidilao.

“I really thought it was a Zara x Haidialo collab,” some customers commented. Others also agree that the first thing they thought about when seeing the Zara dress was the Haidilao apron.

The “original” vs the Zara dress.

The dress has become a popular topic on Xiaohongshu and other social media, where some images show the dress with the Haidilao logo photoshopped on it to emphasize the similarity.

One post on Xiaohongshu discussing the dress, with the caption “Curious about the inspiration behind Zara’s design,” garnered over 28,000 replies.

Haidilao, with its numerous restaurants across China, is renowned for its hospitality and exceptional customer service. Anyone who has ever dined at their restaurants is familiar with the Haidilao apron provided to diners for protecting their clothes from food or oil stains while enjoying hotpot.

These aprons are meant for use during the meal and should be returned to the staff afterward, rather than taken home.

The Haidilao apron.

However, many people who have dined at Haidilao may have encountered the following scenario: after indulging in drinks and hotpot, they realize they are still wearing a Haidilao apron upon leaving the restaurant. Consequently, many hotpot enthusiasts may have an ‘accidental’ Haidilao apron tucked away at home somewhere.

This only adds to the humor of the latest Zara dress looking like the apron. The similarity between the Zara dress and the Haidilao apron is actually so striking, that some people are afraid to be accused of being a thief if they would wear it.

One Weibo commenter wrote: “The most confusing item of this season from Zara has come out. It’s like a Zara x Haidilao collaboration apron… This… I can’t wear it: I’m afraid that someone will say I stole the apron from Haidilao.”

Funnily enough, the Haidilao apron similarity seems to have set off a trend of girls trying on the Zara dress and posting photos of themselves wearing it.

It’s doubtful that they’re actually purchasing the dress. Although some commenters say the dress is not bad, most people associate it too closely with the Haidilao brand: it just makes them hungry for hotpot.

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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