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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 Comic & Games

Chinese Woman Taken Away by Suzhou Police for Wearing Japanese Kimono

The Chinese cosplayer was taken away by police for dressing up as a Japanese manga character: “You are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are Chinese!”

Manya Koetse

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A Chinese female cosplayer who was dressed in a Japanese summer kimono while taking pictures in Suzhou’s ‘Little Tokyo’ area was taken away by local police for ‘provoking trouble.’ The incident has sparked concerns on Chinese social media.

A Chinese woman who was making street pictures of herself while dressed in a kimono was taken away by local Suzhou police for “picking quarrels” and “provoking trouble.”

A video that circulated on Chinese social media this week showed the local policeman talking to the young woman and screaming at her for wearing the Japanese kimono, suggesting she is not allowed to do so as a Chinese person.

“If you would be wearing Hanfu [Chinese traditional clothing], I would never have said this,” the policeman can be heard saying: “But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are Chinese!” The video stops when the girl is taken away.

The incident happened on August 10 at Huaihai Street in Suzhou New District. Huaihai Street is also called “Little Tokyo” because the area is home to many Japanese businesses and restaurants.

The girl, who was previously active on Weibo under the nickname ‘Shadow not Self’ (是影子不是本人) is known to be a cosplayer, someone who likes to dress up a as a character from anime, TV show, or other works of fiction.

On the evening of August 10, she dressed up as the character Ushio Kofune from the Japanese manga series Summer Time Rendering, wearing a cotton summer kimono, better known as yukata. After she took some pictures to reenact a scene from the fictional work, she waited for her order at a local takoyaki place when the local officers approached her and eventually took her away.

According to a social media post by ‘Shadow not Self,’ she was released from the police station five hours later after she received some ‘education’ and police investigated the contents of her phone.

The scene from Summer Time Rendering that ‘Shadow not Self’ wanted to reenact while doing cosplay in Suzhou’s Huaihai street.

The incident first started surfaced on Chinese social media on the night of August 14 and then went viral on August 15, which marked the 77th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

“Has even cosplay become dangerous now?” some commenters on Weibo wondered, with others calling the actions by the police “scary.”

“It’s just cosplay!” “How did she break the law?” many wondered, with some people calling the officer “incompetent.”

The kimono worn by ‘Shadow not Person’ is sold on Taobao for 158 yuan ($23).

Chinese political commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进) also weighed in on the issue via his social media channel (#胡锡进谈女孩穿和服被带走#). Although emphasizing the legal right Chinese citizens have to wear a kimono in public, Hu also mentioned that at a time of tense Sino-Japanese relations – noting Japan’s cooperation with the U.S. “to contain China” – there is a growing antipathy towards Japan, resulting in different perceptions of what it means to wear a kimono.

Nevertheless, Hu wrote, “a kimono is not a Japanese military uniform, and there is no legal reason why it should be banned.”

Hu also warned: “But when someone wants to wear a kimono, I would advise them to pay attention to their surroundings to prevent causing displeasure to those around them and, more importantly, to try to avoid becoming the center of unnecessary controversy themselves. There’s nothing wrong with respecting the feelings of the majority.”

Later on Monday night, CCTV uncoincidentally promoted a topic (#穿汉服就是回到古代吗#) related to wearing Hanfu or traditional Chinese clothing, writing: “As Chinese national traditional clothing, Hanfu can be fully integrated into modern daily life. (..) Change into Hanfu, let the beautiful culture move forward in a new era!”

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes and Xianyu Wang

 

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China Brands & Marketing

Mamianqun Gate: Dior Accused of Cultural Appropriation for Copying Design of Traditional Chinese Skirt

This is not just a matter of plagiarism, according to some, it’s about Dior taking a traditional Chinese design and claiming it’s theirs.

Manya Koetse

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This article was first published by What’s on Weibo on

French luxury fashion house Dior has come under fire on Chinese social media today for the design of one of the skirts in its 2022 Fall collection, which resembles a Chinese traditional skirt known as mǎmiànqún (马面裙).

On the Chinese version of the Dior official website, the French fashion brand describes it as a “mid-length skirt” that is an “all-new elegant and stylish piece based on the iconic Dior silhouette.”

But many Chinese netizens do not agree, and say that the pleated skirt in question is actually a mǎmiànqún (马面裙): a wrapped, apron-like traditional Chinese skirt that was worn in China as early as the Song (960–1279) and Liao dynasties (916–1125) and became popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The skirt by Dior.

The literal translation of the word mǎmiànqún is ‘horse face skirt.’ The skirt is composed of two overlapping fabrics wrapped around the lower body: the two sides of the skirt are pleated, and there is a smooth section in the middle. The skirt is also known as mǎmiànzhěqún (马面褶裙), ‘horse face pleated skirt.’

“It’s just exactly the same,” some commenters wrote. “They’re copying China and then selling it to Chinese consumers, I don’t know what to say.” On the Chinese official Dior site, the skirt is priced at 29,000 yuan (US$4292).

The Dior skirt on the left, Chinese mamian skirt on the right, image from Weibo.

“They’re vilifying China and at the same time, they’re stealing from Chinese culture. They’re shameless,” one Weibo user (@改改hj) wrote.

“Can’t the propaganda department set up an organization to defend our legal rights?” other commenters write.

The influential history blogging account @Qinyimo (@秦祎墨, over 7 million fans) wrote: “I’m not even kidding. I hope that a lawyer specialized in copyright law and an expert in cultural preservation will jointly evaluate this matter, and pay attention to how nasty this is.”

Some people are especially offended that Dior suggests the skirt’s design is inspired by their own original Christian Dior skirt, without any reference to China at all. Others foresee greater problems for Chinese traditional dress if Dior is actually claiming this design is theirs.

Side by side comparison of Dior’s skirt and mamianqun.

The blogging account Qinyimo raised attention to this potential problem.

“This is not simply a matter of plagiarism,” they write: “As traditional Chinese apparel, the mamianqun has historical origins in the Chinese traditional dress system which has continued to the present-day and has never been discontinued. If Dior has patented the version of their mamianqun design, this would mean that when the Chinese fashion industry uses this traditional technique, they could end up in an international legal dispute for doing so.”

“What is ours is ours, I am confident about that. But if their patent is approved, it would mean our way out is blocked (..) This is not a joke, this requires serious attention.”

Mamianqun examples shared on Weibo.

Chinese traditional dress is increasingly popular among Chinese young people, especially due to the rise of the Hanfu Movement, which can be described as a social movement that supports the wearing of Han Chinese ethnic clothing (read more here).

“Dior, this is blatant cultural appropriation [文化挪用],” one Weibo user writes, receiving nearly 12,000 likes on their comment.

At the same time, not everyone agrees that Dior is guilty of plagiarism: “It’s not plagiarism, don’t be mistaken, the mamian skirt is not protected by copyright law so you can’t really plagiarize it. It is, however, 100% cultural appropriation.”

“They are misappropriating our traditional apparel,” other commenters write.

It is not the first time for a Western luxury fashion brand to ignite controversy in China. In 2018, Italian fashion house D&G faced consumer outrage and backlash on Chinese social media for a marketing campaign featuring a Chinese-looking model clumsily using chopsticks to eat Italian dishes (read more here). Various other brands, including Versace and Givenchy, also came under fire in 2019 for for listing Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as a separate countries or regions – not part of China – on their official websites or brand T-shirts.

However, it is rare for online controversies to come out in China accusing foreign brands of ‘cultural appropriation.’ In the past, China has been accused of cultural appropriation, especially when it comes to Korean traditions. Earlier this year, a performer at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics drew condemnation in South Korea for wearing a traditional Korean dress known as hanbok.

Although ‘cultural appropriation’ is at the center of today’s discussions, it is arguably a bit more nuanced than previous mainstream discussions regarding the issue of cultural appropriation outside of China. More than feeling offended about Dior using Chinese mamianqun design, it is about Dior claiming the design as being based on their own original classic. As one netizen writes: “Let’s not be misunderstood, it’s useless to talk about ‘cultural appropriation’ [文化挪用], we need to let people know that in the future if they’ll wear a mamianqun, they could be told by foreigners that ‘Chinese people just love to wear big fashion brands rip offs .’ When our own international clothing brands use our own mamian skirt elements, it is likely they’ll be sued by Dior for doing so.”

At time of writing, the official Dior Weibo account has not responded to the controversy. They have, however, turned off the comment sections of their latest posts.

By Manya Koetse

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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