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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 Comment

1 Comment

  1. 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 Fashion & Beauty

NIKE vs ERKE: Two Sportswear Brands Trending on Weibo for Totally Different Reasons

While domestic brand Erke is all the hype, Nike is growing increasingly unpopular.

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Domestic sportswear company Erke has recently become a top-selling brand in China. The American sports brand Nike, on the other hand, has seemingly lost its reputation in the Chinese market. This week’s trending Weibo topics relating to the companies are telling of the ongoing battle between domestic and international sportswear brands in China.

 
By Wendy Huang & Manya Koetse
 

American sportswear brand Nike and Chinese domestic sportswear brand Erke (鸿星尔克) both popped up in the Weibo trending lists this week, but for two totally different reasons.

While Nike got caught up in controversy, Erke was praised. The stark contrast between how the two brands are represented on social media today is telling of their recent position in the Chinese market.

 
Nike Store Employee vs Chinese Migrant Worker
 

The trending incident involving Nike this week was about a bad shopping experience at the Nike store in Kunming, Yunnan province. On August 13, the 44-year old migrant worker Mao Zhigao (毛治高) took his three kids out shopping in the Nike store to reward them for their good school results.

What was supposed to be a fun family occasion turned into an awful afternoon when a female employee at the store reportedly snatched Nike clothes out of the hands of the youngest son and put them back on the hangers again.

When the boy tearfully told his parents about what happened, the incident soon escalated. The boy’s father, Mr. Mao, believed that the Nike employees were treating the family badly based on their appearance. As a migrant worker working on a construction site, Mao had just returned from work and was in his work clothes.

When the young boy’s mother confronted the employee about what had happened, the altercation apparently turned physical when the Nike employee started scratching and hair-pulling. Local police officers eventually stepped in to mediate.

Although the Mao family demanded an apology from the Nike staff and also filed a complaint to Nike, they did not receive any reply. After six days, local media got involved and the story went trending.

Nike then responded to the issue with an apology and statement that the female employee was dismissed.

By Monday, August 23rd, some hashtags related to the incident received millions of views on Weibo:

On social media, the Nike incident was mostly viewed through the angle of unfair treatment and the international brand discriminating against a Chinese migrant worker.

 
Erke as ‘Patriotic Brand’
 

While Nike is being criticized, Erke, the Chinese sportswear brand by Hongxing Erke Group (鸿星尔克), is praised because it announced to donate one million yuan ($153,800) to Henan Museum to support the museum’s rebuilding project after the devastating flood.

A picture posted by Henan Museum on its Weibo account (@河南博物院)  shows that Erke put the donation in the name of “national netizens.”

The picture soon went viral on Weibo, with the hashtag “ERKE Donates One Million Yuan to Henan Museum” (#鸿星尔克向河南博物院捐赠一百万元#) receiving 450 million views, and “ERKE Together With National Netizens” (#鸿星尔克 携全国网友#) receiving 140 million views.

This is the second time that Erke made a donation to help Henan in light of the floods. Its first donation in late July of this year is actually what helped the brand back into the limelight.

The domestic sportswear brand then donated 50 million yuan ($7.7 million) to the Henan flood. This attracted a lot of attention on Chinese social media since Erke was known as a relatively low-profile brand that seemingly has not been doing too well over the past years.

After people found out that the company donated such a high amount of money to help the people in Henan despite its own losses, its online sales went through the roof – everyone wanted to support this generous ‘patriotic brand.’ While netizens rushed to the online shops selling Erke, the brand’s physical shops also ran out of products with so many people coming to buy their sportswear. One female sales assistant was moved to tears when the store suddenly filled up with so many customers.

Image via Ellemen.

Lei Jun, the founder of the electronics company Xiaomi, also joined the Erke hype. He published a picture of him wearing Erke shoes on Weibo, the hashtag dedicated to this topic then received about 200 million views (#雷军晒鸿星尔克鞋#).

 
Consumer Nationalism and Sportswear Brands
 

It is not just Nike that has seemingly become less popular in China. Earlier this month, one hashtag about another global sports brand, Adidas, also went viral on Weibo. The trending hashtag was about the brand’s revenue growth of Q2 in China dropping by 16% (#阿迪达斯在华收入下跌16%#), receiving more than 110 million views.

During its Q2 2021 conference call, in response to a question about the current consumer demands regarding global brands vs domestic brands in China, CEO of Adidas Group Kasper Rorsted said: “We continue to see a strong demand for products in China, [but] we believe right now that demand has been scooted towards Chinese local brands more than global brands.”

On August 24, news about the online sales of the Chinese Anta Sportswear brand topping those of Nike and Adidas received over 200 million views on Weibo alone (#安踏线上首超耐克阿迪#).

It seems that international sports brands have to look for new ways of winning over consumers in the Chinese market. This shift partly relates to two issues.

The first major issue that has impacted the popularity of brands such as Nike and Adidas has to do with the fact that they are members of the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), which came under fire in China earlier this year after it had announced it would cease all field-level activities in the Xinjiang region with immediate effect due to concerns over the alleged use of forced labor.

The BCI ‘Xinjiang Cotton Ban’ led to an online ‘Xinjiang Cotton Support’ campaign in China. The BCI member brands boycotting Xinjiang cotton were soon labeled as being ‘anti-China.’ Chinese staff members at Nike and Adidas stores were scolded during live streams, and photos of people burning their Nike shoes soon started circulating on social media.

Another trend that has impacted the influence of foreign sportswear brands in China relates to the rise in popularity of local, Chinese sportswear brands. Domestic brands such as Anta Sports and Lining have been active in Chinese since the 1990s and are now profiting from changing consumer sentiments in a new era that is all about “proudly made in China.”

Besides incorporating more Chinese elements into their product design, Chinese celebrities also play a crucial role in the marketing of these domestic brands. Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan (肖战) was praised on social media for becoming the new brand ambassador of the Chinese sportswear brand Lining. When celebrity Wang Yibo became the spokesperson for the domestic brand Anta Sports, one Weibo hashtag page on the topic received over one billion views (#王一博代言安踏#) in late April of 2021. The promotional poster featuring Wang Yibo shows him wearing a t-shirt with “China” on it, including the national flag – profiling Anta as a ‘nation-loving brand.

On social media, it already became clear earlier this year that a distinction was being made between foreign, ‘anti-Chinese’ brands, and domestic, ‘patriotic’ brands (read more here).

Erke indirectly profited from these existing consumer sentiments when, as a relatively smaller domestic brand, it was hyped as the no 1 patriotic sportswear brand for donating so much money to help out during the Henan floods.

Although Nike and Adidas each also contributed 20 million yuan ($3 million) toward Henan floods relief efforts, their donations barely received online attention. In fact, Nike was even condemned online for donating “zero yuan” at a time when it had already announced donating 20 million (more about that here).

The Erke hype even went so far that Chinese livestream sellers of Nike and Adidas notified their viewers that they actually supported the domestic Erke brand.

Adidas livestream sellers supporting Erke.

These nationalistic consumer sentiments also surfaced during the Olympics, when Chinese sport shooter Yang Qian was criticized for her collection of Nike shoes. One Beijing Television journalist wrote on social media: “Chinese athletes, why would you want to collect Nike shoes, shouldn’t you take the lead in boycotting Nike? Aren’t our domestic brands such as Erke, Li Ning, and Anta good enough [for you]?”

During the Tokyo Olympics, Team China’s podium uniform was designed by Chinese sportswear brand Anta, which will also be the Official Sportswear Uniform Supplier for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Anta x Olympics.

In light of everything that happened during the past few months, it is likely that for the time to come, domestic brands such as Erke will continue to flourish while foreign brands might see their China sales slump.

Meanwhile, on social media, netizens continue to express their support for domestic brands while denouncing Nike.

Multiple commenters wrote: “Erke is like ‘I’ve gotten wet, so I want to give others an umbrella too.’ Nike is like ‘Put down those clothes, your dad looks dirty, how you can afford to buy?'”

“I’ll support domestically produced products,” many others write: “Brands that are not patriotic should get out of the country.”

 

By Wendy Huang & Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Food & Drinks

Adapted to the Desert: This Yurt-Style KFC Opened in Inner Mongolia

Special KFC in Inner-Mongolia: “Is home delivery done by camelback?”

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A KFC restaurant that has opened up in Ordos Prefecture, Inner-Mongolia, is attracting online attention in China for its yurt-style building.

The KFC restaurant is located in Xiangshawan, also known as Whistling Dune Bay, a tourist area – China’s first desert-themed tourism resort – in the Kubuqi Desert.

Some web users praise the fast-food giant for “following local customs” (“入乡随俗”). Others jokingly wonder if their home delivery services are also done by camelback.

Although KFC is not China’s first fast-food restaurant, it is one of the most popular ones. Nowhere else outside of the US has KFC expanded so quickly as in China. Since the first KFC opened in Beijing in 1987, the chain had an average of 50% growth per year.

With thousands of locations across the country, KFC often adapts its restaurants’ style to the local environment. On Weibo, web users share various examples of local KFCs.

A KFC sign at a Fuzhou branch, by Weibo user @渭城朝雨玉清宸.

A KFC in Shanxi province, shared by Weibo user @sheep加水饺.

KFC in Suzhou, by Weibo user @是宜不是宣呀.

KFC in Pingyao, by Weibo user @车谦渊

KFC in Orange Isle, Hunan, by Weibo user @DzDanger_

One Weibo user (@阳山花非花) points out that KFC is not the only chain to adapt to the local environment in Ordos. Chinese fast-food chain Dicos (德克士) apparently also has a special restaurant in the area.

Besides adapting its buildings, KFC is also known to be quite localized in its product offerings. KFC China offers products such as Chinese-style porridge, Beijing chicken roll, and youtiao (deep-fried strip of dough commonly eaten for breakfast).

In 2019, KFC also made headlines in China for adding, among other things, hot and spicy skewers (麻辣串串) to its menu.

For now, the KFC yurt-style location is bound to gain more visitors who are coming to check it out. Already, various Weibo users are sharing their own pics of their KFC visit.

 

You might also like to read:

 

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)

With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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