As I walk along the crowded sidewalk my ears are assaulted by the overly loud honking of scooters weaving through the crowd next to me.I can feel the stares of curious people as I go by. Someone nonchalantly blows smoke in my face.
At the same time, I look up and see rows of beautiful trees waving delicate white flowers at me. The delicious smell of spicy street food wafts over to me. A smiling toddler waddles by with her mother close behind.
This is a normal stroll in downtown Nanchong, China. I have been loving China so far, despite the oddities that pop up now and then. I have found the people of China to be very welcoming and nonjudgmental only one person has even acknowledged my nose ring, despite the fact that I have yet to see anyone with a piercing other than their ears.
I am never short on food because my host parents are always bringing me something to nibble on, smiling at me as they watch me taste it.
I have been invited to so many banquets and birthday parties that I can now consider myself a pro at toasting.
While there are many wonderful things about China, I cannot ignore the things that have caught me by surprise or have just confused me to no end. One of the big things for me has been seeing the negative influences of Western culture that have found their way here through Hollywood, the internet, and popular music. This is not to say that China’s culture is conforming to Western standards, but it is definitely being influenced.
What fascinates and distresses me the most is the fact that the Western standard of beauty has invaded China. Much like Genghis Kahn, it has taken over by force and left devastating remains.
Enormous advertisements featuring stick thin, blonde women can be seen plastered on billboards. Magazines are full of women whispering seductively for you to be whiter and thinner. These images are all assaulting these beautiful Chinese women who need absolutely nothing to accent their natural beauty.
Many women can be seen carrying parasols to stop themselves from tanning in the summer sun (which is probably a good thing, except the reasons are wrong).
Some women go to the extreme of plastic surgery in order to look more Western. Elongated noses and bigger eyes are what they seek. I keep wondering if this can stop now that it has started.
Can China go back to thinking that Chinese, not Western women, are the standard to judge by? Better yet, can women simply stop judging themselves through others and learn to love their bodies? Yes, this is an ideal that is unlikely to happen, but a girl can wish can she not?
Tags: Emma King