Like so many things in China, the images of women portrayed in film, television, and magazines have undergone dramatic change. Thirty years ago, women were just emerging from the restricted images of the Maoist-era when Chinese women were portrayed nearly always in a glorified and almost heroic way.
Today the modern Chinese woman is portrayed – online, on air, and in more than forty-five glossy fashion magazines — including international brands like Elle and Cosmopolitan. But Chinese women are grappling with balancing the influences of tradition and those of rampant commercialization in their lives.
Modern Chinese Women at a CrossroadsTo get one perspective on the pressures on Chinese women, Full Frame spoke to Chinese-American author and women’s rights advocate, Joy Chen.
According to Joy Chen, international fashion magazines like Harper’s Bizarre are structured much differently in China than they are in the United States. Every issue profiles strong women who are making an impact in science, and business and women who are leading the way in Chinese society.
“You certainly have the advertising focusing on models and movie stars that you see in the American magazine,” Chen said, “But when it comes to the editorial content I do feel there is a sense of civic responsibility among these fashion editors, who are women, to give their readers a sense of what total beauty is.”
Chen’s book, Do Not Marry before Age Thirty, has gained many readers in China. It discusses the pressures on Chinese women to marry before the age of 25… or be regarded as so-called ‘left-over’ women.