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  • Why are beauty standards so strict in China?
  • Why are beauty standards so strict in China?
    Toshihiro Gamo, Creative Commons (2016) ©

Can China become body positive?

Hashtag crazes like #A4Challenge and #BellyButtonChallenge reveal the huge social pressure Chinese women are under to conform to narrow beauty ideals. With a variety of eating disorders on the rise, some brands are now helping young people reject old conventions and pursue self-acceptance.

Location China

It’s no coincidence that bizarre hashtag crazes like #BellyButtonChallenge, #CollarboneChallenge and #A4Challenge, which all encourage women to prove their thinness in various ways, originated in China. Challenges of this nature are now common on domestic platforms like Sina Weibo, from where they spread West, eventually lighting up social media globally with posts from acolytes and angry critics alike.

In the early 20th century, famines were so severe in China that the phrase nǐ chī le ma (meaning ‘have you eaten?’) was a common greeting. Today, the nation has the greatest number of obese people in the world – 10.8% of ...



  • SK-II sells beauty to China’s leftover women

    SK-II sells beauty to China’s leftover women

    Skincare brand SK-II is targeting China’s ‘leftover’ women by challenging stereotypes in a spot that examines how different generations perceive women based on relationship status. The company is looking to capture the attention of single women by removing the stigma attached to them.

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    Are selfies a force for good?

    Selfies ruin trips to galleries, interrupt nights out, and feed an unhealthy preoccupation with looks. But they’re also being used to champion the individual and non-mainstream beauty. As brands launch selfie campaigns, can they engage audiences in a way that’s helpful, not harmful?

  • L'Oréal’s Makeup Genius app a hit in China

    L'Oréal’s Makeup Genius app a hit in China

    L'Oréal’s Makeup Genius app, which lets women virtually try out new eyeshadow shades, has been downloaded 14 million times since it launched. China has proven to be a big market, not just because it has a huge number of internet users, but because it allows women to try out heavy make-up in secret.

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    Nivea’s Extra White & Firm Q10: whiter, tighter armpits

    Lightening lotions and potions account for 16% of the $80 billion Asian cosmetics industry. Nivea has launched a deodorant that keeps you fresh, while whitening and tightening underarms. But does this product address a real need? Or create a new complex for beauty-conscious women?

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    Yuemei: China’s ebay for plastic surgery

    A common perception in China is that good looks get good jobs. Homegrown cosmetic surgeons have got a bad rep, and in 2014, 200,000 Chinese medical tourists travelled to South Korea in search of physical perfection. Can Yuemei prove it’s a trusted online marketplace for cosmetic ops in China, and will it give the industry a much needed reputational face-lift?

  • China's love affair with Korean beauty

    China's love affair with Korean beauty

    The cosmetics market is growing in China, and fast – beauty products now outsell groceries in department stores. But it’s not American and European names capturing new ground. Chinese consumers are looking to South Korea for the most innovative and aspirational beauty buys.

  • Finger Trap: another beauty test?

    Finger Trap: another beauty test?

    First there was 'hot or not', then the 'thigh gap' trend, and now social media sites are buzzing with the 'finger-trap test' to determine whether someone is beautiful or ugly. If your finger doesn’t touch your lips when pressed against your nose, you’re deemed pretty.

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    BeautyPlus: fulfilling Asian beauty ideals

    Asia's selfie obsession is more prominent than ever, giving rise to beautifying apps that automatically detect facial features, and enhance them according to Eastern beauty ideals.