Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Being Female here

...means that you should have the body frame of a 12 year old that wears a size 0, with Twilight white skin and shiny long black hair. It means that you invest hundreds of dollars in skin regimes and lotions to maintain the photoshop quality of your skin. Being attractive means being demure, cute, shy and quiet. Not sexy. Not dominant. You probably have large, doe-eyes that were constructed with fake double eyelids, capturing a permanent look of innocence. You fully agree that men are better at sports and fixing things, while accepting your role at home, or with the child, as natural and expected. You have no objections or complaints.

Being female here means that your number one priority in life is to find a husband. If you do not have one by the age of 30 you feel useless, and everyone deems you that way too. You are accustomed to reuniting with relatives or friends, and having the first thing they say to you be about your weight. These comments never come from a malicious place, it is just how commonplace and desensitized standards have become. If you are a female, you are always on a diet. And being on a diet in China, for many, means eating only a fruit for dinner. If people are not talking about your weight, they are asking about your boyfriend. The moment you tell someone you have a boyfriend, you are deemed "safe," because people assume that boyfriend=husband. But being single sets off the ticking clock. There is a sense of urgency in everyone who cares about you, because they believe marriage is the only way you can be happy.

I'm tired of the backwards culture China has on women. I'm even more tired of the women who don't seem to have a problem with it. I wish girls who are half my size stopped saying they are dieting. I wish younger generations had role models of girls who are single and happy. I wish older generations didn't whisper and make harsh judgements towards those that aren't married. I don't want everyone to assume I cannot handle my alcohol because I am a girl. The looks of surprise and admiration I receive when I chug a small cup of beer are annoying, not flattering. I wish all marriages in China were born from love and not familial or societal pressure. I don't understand why I seem to be the only one who is mad.

Note: I know that this post makes a lot of generalizations that obviously don't apply to every single female living in China. These are just my own opinions based on observations and interactions. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Being an ABC

I have learned that being an ABC (American-Born-Chinese) means that no matter where you go, no one believes you are American. If you are in Europe and you tell people that you are from California, they will point at your face and say "No? But where you from? Japones?"
If you are in China speaking Chinese, people assume your slightly strange pronunciation is because you are Korean, not American. Taxi drivers will even argue with you when you tell them that you are American, NOT Korean. Because obviously the taxi driver knows where you were born better than you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cafes pt. 2: Spain

When I was studying abroad in Spain, it was impossible to find a good cafe to study in (not that we studied that much anyway). Not for there being a lack of cafes, though. It is only socially acceptable to be drinking coffee or alcohol while laughing loudly with your friends in a Spanish cafe, at any hour of the day. One time, we were all cramming for finals so we go to a cafe and ordered coffee, but the owner got mad at us after awhile, so then we all ordered beer.

Studying abroad in Spain was the best. 

Coffee and Cafes

I really like spending time in cafes, and I love coffee. So the recent proliferation of Chinese cafe culture has made me very happy. Coffee is a foreigner's product.The cafe scene is also mostly full of foreigners, but I see Chinese students also taking advantage of these adorable spaces that offer wifi and comfy seats. You can't find cat/dog/snoopy/hello kitty cafes, but even then all the cafes here are well decorated and comfortable. And some cafes will deliberately have 2-3 cats walking around anyway. One notable difference though is that most cafes in China offer alcohol and regular meals as well (usually Western food), as opposed to just pastries. Aside from that, nothing about these cafes make me feel like I am in China as opposed to anywhere else in the U.S. Unfortunately that includes how much I am paying. Sellers are definitely taking advantage of how much coffee sells globally, so relative to everything else in China, coffee is pretty expensive. But at least I haven't tasted anything too horrible yet.

Photo: I hate liking giant chains, but Costa Coffee is an exception. They are a U.K coffee chain that is as ubiquitous as Starbucks, similarly priced (if not cheaper) but sell much higher quality coffee. Their cups are larger too.

Chinese Fashion

My first thought when I came to China and saw all the people around, was that these people dressed weird. Several minutes later, I realized how judgmental I was being And I realized it was very possible that everyone was looking at my watermelon tank top and black Walgreens-flip flops thinking I was the weirdo.

While you cannot generalize the clothing style 1.3 billion people, here are some patterns I've been noticing so far:


1. The Beijing bikini: where fat older men wear wife beaters pulled up to their man boobs, showing their naked beer bellies. (Does it ever get that hot enough where this can be deemed socially acceptable? I don't know. Beijing summers can be pretty hot though)

2. Tight everything and low cut. Tight jeans, tight shirts, low cut V knecks and some strange colors

3. Rooster hair for the younger guys. This involves a lot of gel and a lot of times, streaks of blonde or orange.

4. Some guys wear these really crazy matching pattern top and bottoms. I don't know whether to describe them as goth, or hip pajamas...


1. Platform shoes! These are amazing! I am talking platform converse, platform boots, platform converse boots,  platform sandals, platform heels, everything. And what is nuts is that even with these shoes, I have never seen a girl over 5"4. Which makes me wonder just how short these people are... (total self esteem booster for me though)

2. Feminine, pastel colors and lace.

3. Lady umbrellas for the outdoors so as not to shed any sunlight onto their deliberate white skin.

4. It is completely acceptable to wear the shortest skirts imaginable (even to work), but anything on top is conservative.

5. Little to no make up, but lots of skin formula for deliberate white skin.

Photo: see point #4 under Males

Pictures with Malls

Why do Chinese families and young people think it is cool to take photos of malls? Or pose for photos in front of malls? I was an hour early to meeting some friends so I decided to people-watch. In that one sitting alone I witnessed this bizarre phenomena five times.  I swear to you, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about the exterior of these buildings. And there are malls everywhere in China. So if there is any logic to this strange practice, it is lost on me.

Photo: Instead of taking a picture of the mall, I took a picture of myself with my disgusting cold sore finally gone. Then I sent it to my best friend. So basically I was sending before and after photos of my cold sores which I am NOT ashamed of. 


On this blog, I will jot down my thoughts on life and anything else I observe while living in China.

Photo: finding energy to take jumping photos after making it to the top of 海坨山 - the second highest mountain in Beijing