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Drowning in a Chinese sea of beauty

08-04-2008

If you are called a "beauty" in some Chinese shops, don't get too excited, as you will find out disappointedly that most female customers are addressed the same way.

Nowadays, it seems many youngsters have developed the habit of calling a woman beautiful, instead of using the title Miss or Madame.

Once my friend, whose last name is Wang, attended a conference and took a seat in the last row. He caught sight of a friend sitting in the front.

So, Wang whispered with joy: "Hi, pretty girl!"

To his surprise, every young female in the room immediately turned around. The poor man was so embarrassed by the unexpected scene that he became lost for words and turned as red as a beet.

So when is it appropriate to call a Chinese woman beautiful? Some of my male friends say, "those aged between 18 and 60 should all be called a beauty".

I remember when I was a little child, women were just addressed as "tongzhi" (comrade) or "da jie"(elder sister). The title "mei ren" or "mei nu" was reserved for the four famous ancient Chinese beauties: Xi Shi (Spring and Autumn Period, 770-476 BC), Wang Zhaojun (Western Han Dynasty, 206 BC-AD 24), Diao Chan (Eastern Han Dynasty, AD 25-220) and Yang Yuhuan (Tang Dynasty, AD 618-907).

People started to call girls "Miss" (xiao jie) in public under the influence of Western culture following China's opening-up in the late 1970s.

But the fashion also faded as time passed, mostly because more and more women didn't like to be addressed in the same way. This is why "beautiful lady" has become so popular in the past few years. The flattering words are certainly safe to use without offending anyone.

I have grown accustomed to being called a "beauty", so has my mother.

To be more specific, we have learnt not to take it seriously, as it is nothing more than a title, which can make the vibe more relaxed in offices and at home.

What I cannot stand is that beauty is used as a way of catching consumers' attention.

For instance, Chinese websites and magazines are inundated with beautiful ladies, including pretty authors, beautiful journalists and stunning nurses.

It's like having nice food - it tastes good but will eventually taste bland if you eat too much of it.

All this fabricated "beauty" in our lives has blinded us to what is genuinely beautiful.

So what will women be called when this current fad is over? I just hope it's not "Beast. "

Source: People's Daily Online


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Date: 06:11 01-08-2011

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