Are the Chinese really that shallow when it comes to love? Well, decide for yourself. On Weibo, China’s biggest microblogging platform, a heated discussion is ongoing over an age-old question: which is more important, face or figure?
It all started with a Weibo post by a young photographer @不知深潜 on July 31 in which he sought advice on whether or not he should go after a girl who is “pretty but too fat”.
In the post, @不知深潜 recounted his encounter with a shop assistant who sells popcorn at a cinema in Sanlitun, Beijing. “I felt like I was struck by lightning when I saw her face in my camera,” the smitten @不知深潜 wrote in his post, “... but I was shocked when she turned around to get my drink for me!”
It was the size of the girl that “shocked” the young man. Photo: weibo.com
He then wrote, “I went there again this morning (three days after their first encounter) but didn’t find her. I cannot stop thinking about her. The only problem is that she is fat. But I suppose that’s not a big deal. We could lose weight together.”
At the end of his long post, he asked for help from the “experienced” Weibo users, “Should I or should I not go after her?”
However, he might not have expected the tide of ridicules coming his way labeling him “shallow” and “not-worthy” of the beautiful girl with only a few voices of support which were almost inundated by the sarcastic comments.
@不知深潜 retorted on August 1 to say that he is just a “post-90s boy who likes beautiful girls and is conscious about saving face”. “You laugh at me now, but would you not hesitate at all if the girl you like weighed 100 kilograms? ... I just want my girlfriend to have a normal figure. Is that too much to ask?” he questioned.
The Weibo account of the said girl @frankjia520 was later revealed, but she remained silent throughout. The girl's photos on her Weibo account subsequently went viral together with her not-so-secret admirer, creating an even bigger “face versus figure” debate, especially after the posts caught the attention of many Chinese media’s official Weibo on August 7, including that of the Global Times, a daily Chinese newspaper run by the People’s Daily.
A photo of @frankjia520 that went viral but has since been deleted from her Weibo. Photo: weibo.com
Many Weibo users, women included agreed that the girl is beautiful but fat. “Her face and her body are out of proportion,” said many in their comments. Some women concluded that the girl has “a winning combination of a face that is both small and pretty” which they think “is certain to attract men”.
As to whether the boy should go after the girl, opinion is divided. Women are generally against it, mostly out of indignation, as summed up by @我叫小小小丹丹, “Men are just like this: they want both the face and the figure.”
Men, however, seem to be unanimously supportive of the boy’s quest. “Hurry up and do it,” they encouraged, “If she lost weight, you would stand no chance.”
All this was a bit too familiar as similar stories have made rounds on China's social media before. The difference is those stories all featured foreigners with entirely different plots.
Last December, the story of an American girl named Deemi went viral in China. Deemi, who is heavily overweight, posted photos of her and her handsome boyfriend Andrew on the Internet with the aim to teach people to believe in love.
Deemi and her boyfriend. Photo: best-news.us; tumblr.com
“It’s not love, beauty nor life that discriminates. It’s us,” she wrote in one of her Tumblr posts, “We’re all human beings, some prettier, some more successful but a heart is a heart, a body is a body and a person is a person... I LOVE MYSELF.”
Deemi was dubbed “American sister inspirational” by the Chinese media who translated and ran her story. Videos related to her are still popular on many Chinese video-sharing sites.
More recently, in June 2013, Gloria Shuri Nava, another overweight girl from the US shared on the Internet her story with her boyfriend Ali who, in her words, has “a fit, muscular body”.
Gloria said in her article on yahoo.com that “there is no one ‘normal’ way to look or love. Beauty and relationships come in all shapes and sides... and one partner doesn't have to mirror the other. Love is love.”
Gloria and her boyfriend Ali. Photo: yahoo.com
This sentiment and thought, though admired by the Chinese, seem to not have been shared by them, as only a small number of the Weibo users even mentioned the word “love” in the comments they left. Just a few people expressed ideas such as “it is the good heart of a person that really matters, not the looks.”
The majority of the people who took part in the Weibo discussion are simply engrossed by the idea of a boy courting a girl with a build that is deemed neither beautiful nor “marriageable”. Some even “kindly” warned the boy that the "undesirable physique" will probably be passed on to the next generation.