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Unit 3

3.1 Unit 3: Influences of Beauty and Art

4 min readdecember 19, 2020

emilyguo

Emily Guo


AP Chinese  🇨🇳

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Unit 3: Influences of Beauty and Art

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Image Courtesy of PxHere

The main 🔍 topic of this unit is exploring how beauty 💅 and art 🎨 influence the Chinese-speaking communities. Beauty and Aesthetics 🦋 will be the main focus 🔬, although some previous themes mentioned make a reappearance.
As you work through this unit, think about these questions:
  1. How do ideals of beauty and aesthetics influence daily life? (审美和美学的理想是怎么影响到日常生活?)
  2. How does art both challenge and reflect cultural perspectives? (艺术是如何又反对又反映文化观点?)
  3. How do communities value beauty and art? (社区是如何看待美和艺术?)
  4. How is art used to record history? (艺术是如何用来记录历史的?)

3.1 Ideals of Beauty and Aesthetics and Daily Life

Chinese Beauty Standards and Fashion 👗

When comparing beauty 💇 standards, China is very similar to other East Asian 🌏 countries that differ greatly in comparison to Western ⬅️ beauty standards. Fashion has evolved from much more traditional clothing to more modern styles, most likely influenced by other regions.
When talking about beauty standards in China, skin tone has to be mentioned. In China, fair skin is preferred. It's based on the claim that you are more beautiful if you are more pale. This dates way back to the dynasties, where skin color displayed your social class. Since the lower classes worked outside in the sun, darker skin was attributed to them and physical labor. The wealthier you were, the less physical labor you had to do in the sun ☀️, supposedly making you more pale-skinned.
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Image Courtesy of UIHere

As a result, even in the modern world, many women go outside fully covered and with sun umbrellas. Face masks are also commonly worn to prevent UV rays from tanning their faces. There is even one for beach days, dubbed the "facekini", as shown below. A common idiom in China 🇨🇳 states: "Fair skin conceals a thousand flaws." Others simply avoid going outside much at all. This is a stark difference from the Western preference for tanning 🏖️.
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Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On the topic of the preference for fairer skin, in many South Asian countries, including China 🇨🇳, skin-whitening products have been widely used to achieve a lighter skin tone. These can be very dangerous⚠️ because of the ingredients, such as mercury. Mercury can cause damage to kidneys, nerves, and other health problems!
These products tend to be smuggled 🤫 into East Asian countries, as many are considered illegal 🚫 Many of the smuggling operations are aided with the help of customs agents. This is because many customs agents believe that they are helping the citizens by helping import skin-whitening products that are affordable.
There are two quick 3 character summaries on the most ideal man and woman: 白富美(bái fùměi), which quite literally means a white, rich, and beautiful (girl) and 高富帅(gāofù shuài), which also quite literally means tall ↕️, rich, and handsome (man)...
Double-eyelids 👁️ is another preference in China. More than half of East Asians have monolids 1️⃣, leading to a common surgery called blepharoplasty that gives you double eyelids. With double eyelids, the eye appears larger, and therefore more "beautiful."
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Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many Chinese seek features such as larger eyes as mentioned above, a high nose bridge👃🏻, and paler skin. Being extremely thin is also desired in China. This can negatively affect the health of many women 💁‍♀️ in China.
Fashion trends for women in China tend to follow a more innocent and angelic look. There is also a darker side that seems more "gothy," but the naïve and young look tends to be preferred. Men tend to wear outfits that make them seem more sophisticated 👔. Another popular option for men is "sporty" outfits 👕.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-6PquJfuPVQ89.png?alt=media&token=671bdb95-8aef-491a-b718-c36d4c9853dc

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Famous fashion 👗 brands are extremely popular in China, and there is a whole knockoffs industry of these brands. In fact, if you visit a city, you are bound to encounter more than one street corner 🛣️ filled with vendors with fakes. They also tend to set up shop near the actual shop. China is infamous for having dupes of the more expensive products on the market 🛒. These products tend to have spelling errors, or other mistakes, that make them more obvious to the trained eye. Many people purchase these products because they cannot afford the real products, but wish to come off to others as "wealthy" 🤑.
With all this information ℹ️, we should remind ourselves and others not to modify ourselves or your body to fit into your society's standards. Understanding the reasons behind these cultural norms is okay, but don't do anything harmful to your body. You are beautiful and wonderful just the way you are! ♥️

Strive for Five Vocab! 🔑🔑

  • 太阳伞(tàiyáng sǎn)- Sun Umbrella
  • 皮肤美白产品(pífū měibái chǎnpǐn)- Skin Whitening Products
  • 脸基尼(liǎn jīní)- Facekini
  • 高鼻梁(gāo bíliáng)- High Nose Bridge
  • 单眼皮(dānyǎnpí)- Monolids
  • 双眼皮(shuāng yǎnpí)- Double-Eyelids
  • 瘦(shòu)- Thin
  • 天真(tiānzhēn)- Naive
  • 衣服(yīfú)- Clothes
  • 连衣裙(liányīqún)- Dress
  • 裙子(qúnzi)- Skirt
  • 衬衫(chènshān)- Blouse/Shirt
  • 裤子(kùzi)- Pants
  • 长裤(cháng kù)- Trousers
  • 假冒产品(jiǎmào chǎnpǐn)- Counterfeit Products

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