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China Fashion & Beauty

The Perfect Selfie: China vs America

Manya Koetse

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People are taking selfies all over the world. The way they take them, however, differs per culture. In China, taking the perfect selfie is not about full face make-up and sexy looks, but about snow white skin and big eyes, Claire Kane writes.

Selfies are an integral part of the world of social media. With smartphones and selfie sticks, it is easier than ever before for people to take a ‘self-portrait’ and share it with the world through social media platforms such as Instagram, Weibo, Wechat, Facebook or Twitter.

Self-representation through digital technology is not just a way of presenting ourselves to others, it is also a way for us to record moments in our lives to remember for the future. In Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, Jill Walker Rettberg explores the phenomenon of selfies; why people take them and how they are perceived.

Website Style.Mic recently published an article by Clare Kane (@clare_kane) about what the difference in selfies between America and China can tell us about beauty standards. According to the article, although there are many overlaps in selfie esthetics, there are some basic differences between beauty ideals in America and China that are discernible in how women take selfies. Chinese ‘selfie culture’ is influenced by South Korea and Japan, that have similar beauty standards.

One of the main differences, according to the article, is that Chinese women prefer to be pale. Whereas the majority of women in the US prefer a bronzed skin, this is not the case in China. In Chinese language ‘Miss Perfect’ translates as ‘baifumei‘ (白富美), literally meaning white-skinned, rich and beautiful. For the perfect selfie, the skin is therefore made to look as white as possible, either through make-up, lighting, or through a photo app that enhances one’s skin.

selfieswhatsonweibo

American celebrity Kim Kardashian (left), and Chinese celebrity ‘Angelababy’ (right).

Except for pale skin, big eyes are also a prerequisite for the ‘perfect selfie’. China’s beauty industry benefits from these beauty ideals, and does not only offer a myriad of products that help women whiten their skin; it also sells a selection of products that are supposed to make the eyes look bigger.

Influenced by Western and Japanese beauty ideals, a small face and pointed chin have also become part of Chinese beauty ideals. Well-known Weibo blogger Vincent Lau has become famous for his selfies with an extremely pointed face and big eyes.

vincentlauwow

Another difference, according to the article, is that women in the US like selfies that portray themselves as  sexy and curvy. In China, it is not about sex but about looking ‘cute’. Being ‘cute’ often means looking as innocent as possible.

kateperryfanbingbing

American celebrity Katy Perry selfie versus Chinese celebrity Fan Bingbing selfie. 

Chinese beauty standards are most easily attained through the use of photo app Pitu (天天P图 ), that comes with many possibilities. Like the Meitu app (美图), which is also popular, Pitu is a camera and retouch app that offers a myriad of different filters to take the prettiest selfie. It allows users to make themselves whiter, make the face smaller and enlarge eyes.

Selfies in China and America do not always follow the general beauty esthetics. Last year’s Weibo trend of taking selfies showing of armpit hair also made it in America, where even Madonna showed off some natural hair.

armpit

The message: women should not feel pressured to comply with society’s beauty standards. What is most important is that they feel comfortable with themselves.

– By Manya Koetse

Featured image: selfie of Kim Kardashian versus Chinese celebrity Fan Bing Bing.

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

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Fashion & Beauty

Turning Drinks into Fashion – Chinese Designer Yang Yang Personifies Popular Beverages

Personified beverage fashion – trending because it’s cool.

Manya Koetse

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Every now and then there are posts on Weibo that just seem to keep on making their rounds. The ‘beverage fashion’ drawings collection by Yang Yang (杨杨) is one of these posts, first popping up on Chinese social media in June of this year.

Yang Yang is a 28-year-old designer from Anhui, who started drawing when she was 13 years old. She has been active in the fashion business for eight years now and has become popular on Kuaishou, China’s popular short video and live-streaming app.

If Coca Cola were a fashionista, what would she look like? In the eyes of Yang Yang, this would be her:

Drawing by Yang Yang (画师杨杨).

Wahaha (哇哈哈) purified water, produced by the largest beverage company in China, is personified here:

Drawing by Yang Yang (画师杨杨).

Energy drink brand Red Bull China, a Sino-foreign joint venture company, uses different colors than cans in the US or Europe.

Drawing by Yang Yang (画师杨杨).

One particularly striking illustration by Yang Yang is that of Nongfu icea tea drink Cha π (茶兀).

Nongfu Spring, one of the most common brands of bottled water in China, suddenly seems very trendy now.

This is the fashion version of Sea Crystal Lemon, known for its bright blue and yellow.

Following the various Weibo posts that are making their rounds with the illustrations by Yang Yang, more drawings seem to have been added later via other channels, including that of Pepsi, Wong Lo Kat, and Snow Beer.

Drawing by Yang Yang (画师杨杨).

Drawing by Yang Yang (画师杨杨).

Drawing by Yang Yang (画师杨杨).

Although Yang Yang’s designs have gone viral this year, it is not known if they will have a chance to be turned into wearable fashion. As for Yang, she says she was just “playing around” to keep a creative mind.

Also read: From Stay-at-Home Dad to Fashion Designer – ‘Super Dad’ Rises to Fame

By Manya Koetse

Sources:
https://k.sina.com.cn/article_1872762823_p6fa017c702700xosj.html
https://new.qq.com/rain/a/20190619A0POST

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China Fashion & Beauty

The Mulan Makeup Challenge: Traditional Chinese Makeup Goes Trending

Recreating the Mulan make-up look was the biggest beauty challenge on Chinese social media this July.

Manya Koetse

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Will traditional Chinese make-up make a comeback because of Disney’s Mulan?

Since Disney released the official trailer for its live-action Mulan movie earlier this month, Mulan is recurringly appearing in the top trending lists on Chinese social media.

Among all the different topics relating to the upcoming Mulan movie, the Mulan make-up challenge is one that jumps out this month.

The Disney live-action trailer showed a scene in which Mulan, played by Chinese American actress Crystal Liu Fei (刘亦菲), has a full face of betrothal makeup. The original animated Disney movie also features a full makeup Mulan.

Although there was also online criticism of the ‘exaggerated’ makeup, there are many people who appreciate Mulan’s colorful makeup look.

On Weibo, many showed off their skills in copying Mulan’s makeup look this month.

By now, the hashtags “Mulan Makeup Imitation” (#花木兰仿妆#) and “Mulan Makeup Imitation Contest” (#花木兰仿妆大赛#) have attracted over 300 million views.

Makeup such as lipstick has been used in China as far back as two or three thousand years ago.

Makeup vlogger Emma Zhou explains more about Tang Dynasty (618-907) makeup customs here; the skin would be whitened with rice flower, followed by the application of ‘blush’ (pigment of strong-colored flowers) to the cheeks and eyes in a round shape, to emphasize the roundness of the face.

A floral-like decoration would be placed in between the eyebrows.

The yellow forehead, as can be seen in the live-action Mulan, is also known as “Buddha’s makeup,” and was especially popular among ladies during the Tang Dynasty. A yellow aura on the forehead was believed to be auspicious (Schafer 1956, 419).

Although contemporary Chinese makeup trends are much different than those depicted in Mulan, traditional makeup seems to make somewhat of a come-back because of the Disney movie, with hundreds of Chinese netizens imitating the look.

Beauty bloggers such as Nico (@黎千千Nico, image below) receive much praise from Weibo users for their makeup look. Nico wrote: “I even opened the door for the delivery guy this way!”

It is not just girls imitating the look; there are also some boys showing off their Mulan makeup.

Although many still find the Mulan makeup look exaggerated and even “laughable,” there are also those who think it looks really “cool” – of course, depending on whether or not the application is successful.

Want to try it out for yourself? There are various amateur tutorials available on Youtube (in Chinese), such as here, here, or here.

The Mulan make-up hype will probably continue in 2020; the Mulan movie will come out in late March.

To read more about Mulan, please see our latest feature article on Mulan here.

By Manya Koetse

References

Schafer, Edward H. 1956. “The Early History of Lead Pigments and Cosmetics in China.” T’oung Pao, Second Series, 44, no. 4/5: 413-38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4527434.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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