After a one-month silence—due to the fact this Beijing-based author has a fulltime job to keep her quinoa and avocados on the table—we’re back. Temper casts a net upon all that is throwing tantrums in the world of China Fashion and Urban Culture right now, dipping its toe in the deep indigo-dyed pool that is the ocean of Middle Kingdom fashionable slash cultural astonishment.
1. Embracing Buddhist Vibes
‘Tis the season… For assignments, exams and final grades.
China’s elementary schoolers are embracing an age-old soothing “accessory,” namely, the beaded bracelet (盘手串| pán shǒuchuàn or “hand strings” in Chinese). According to a recent Henan TV report, DIY beaded bracelets serving as fidget toys have caused a boom among elementary school students. (Of course, one can also buy them for 10-20 RMB (1.45-2.89USD).)
Fast fact 1: Fidget “tools” are arguably a relatively Western “self-regulation” phenomenon to help with focus, attention, calming and active listening. We don’t get it, but we’re sure it works for some people.
The students interviewed said that there are many reasons why they like weaving together their own comforting gadgets. “It helps you decompress; the sound of the beads clicking or the sensation of rubbing them together between your palms or fingers is very soothing,” one fifth grader said. “I feel making and wearing these bracelets sparks my creativity and hands-on ability; plus, I like designing different styles myself,” a 9-year-old girl explained. “I like to exchange bracelets with my classmates to see which one looks best and has more distinctive features,” a third-grade boy added.
Buddhist in origin, the beaded bracelets are powerful symbols in fengshui, aka the practice of arranging the pieces in living spaces to create balance with the natural world, and Chinese culture in general primarily because they are believed to be powerful amulets that will bring you good fortune in terms of money, love, health, and protection from evil or harm. They are traditionally used to keep track of breaths during the yogic practice of Pranayama and are usually seen on China’s older generations.
Fast fact 2: There’s a video of super among supers Gisele Bundchen demonstrating the Pranayama breathing techniques on YouTube somewhere. #gofetch
China’s academic environment is like a pressure cooker for students. At the end of elementary school, students can choose to take entrance exams for more prestigious middle schools; after middle school, all students must take an exam to determine where they will attend high school. At the end of 12th grade, then, they will take the dreaded gaokao (高考| gāokǎo or “higher exams”), the country’s sole determinant for university admission. Here’s a live countdown to this year’s edition, by the way. #nopressure
Fast fact 3: The 2021 overhaul of the regulations governing private education sector by the Chinese government came as a surprise to many. Under the “Double Reduction” policy announced on July 24 that year, the burden of homework and after-school excessive study hours was to be reduced.
If this new elementary fiddling trend tells us anything, it may be that the pressures Chinese students face isn’t letting up just quite yet.
2. Take EAT Easy
In a campaign titled “Take EAT Easy,” Chinese oatmeal brand Wang Baobao (王饱饱) in late March joined hands with an eating disorder public welfare team ED Healers to invite around 10 small shops and cafes in the community of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, to speak out on the recognition of eating disorders, Dao Insights, a website publishing exclusive articles on and high-value case studies from the Middle Kingdom, reported.
Fast fact 1: ED Healers is a group of 19 women who have struggled with eating disorders for many years. “Since 2020, the team has committed itself to disseminating organized and science-backed information for those who are troubled with eating disorders,” according to Dao Insights.
In China, the social pressure on young women to be perfect has become so overwhelming that it has caused an alarming rise in cases of anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders in the past decade. By shedding light on the social phenomenon (or, rather, “taboo”), Wang Baobao intended to give a voice to those who cannot speak out and offered some solutions for healthy living in the form of offline and ESG marketing.
Fast fact 2: ESG marketing is the activity of promoting the material Environmental, Social and Governance attributes of a company’s strategy to its investors, buyers and other stakeholders in alignment with corporate purpose and mission.
The hashtag #TakeEATEasy# had amassed 2.4 million views on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, as of May 1.
Eating disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent in China, especially among young women. According to a study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders last year, the prevalence rate of eating disorders in China was 1.1 percent among adolescents and 0.9 percent among adults. However, it is believed that these figures may be underestimated due to cultural stigma and lack of awareness about eating disorders.
Fast fact 3: In China, a lack of awareness about eating disorders lingers. But there are several options available for those seeking help. The first option is to seek help from a general practitioner who can refer the individual to a specialist. However, it may be challenging to find specialists who specialize in eating disorders specifically.
Another option is to attend support groups or therapy sessions. Support groups such as ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) have branches in China where individuals can connect with others experiencing similar challenges. Online resources such as websites and forums provide information on how to manage eating disorders and offer a supportive community for individuals seeking treatment.
You can get all the Dao Insights on Wang Baobao’s campaign right here.
3. Spring Cleaning That Wardrobe
‘Tis the season… for spring cleaning. Out with gorpcore and mountaincore, in with “cleanfit,” according to Jing Daily, aka the leading digital publication on luxury consumer trends in China.
But first, get your mountaincore/ gorpcore facts straight by clicking the link below:
Right then, now that we’re all up to speed… Moving on!
“An antidote to utility-wear-inspired styles, ‘cleanfit’ carries a sense of minimalism is at its core and a sense of simplicity as its theme. Think suede Birkenstock clogs teamed with fresh white socks, loose-fit denim and a crisp ironed shirt,” the portal continued. It’s all about that non-distracting, non-overkill, chill vibe. Think Carolyn Bessette Kennedy in the 1990s (RIP).
The #cleanfit hashtag had amassed 140 million views on Chinese Instagram slash e-commerce platform 小红书 ( xiǎohóngshū| Little Red Book) as of May 1, while #gorpcore had generated 39.5 million views (same date, same platform).
Catch up with the trend’s full tale right here, on Jing Daily.
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