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Effects of Ideal Body Images--Translatable Across Gender and Culture?
Unformatted Document Text:  7 Current Case in China Most body image studies were conducted in western societies, whereas little is known of the effects on media consumers outside of these environments. The present study is an exploratory effort to test this effect in China. Compared to its western counterparts, China has its own characteristics regarding body images. During the Mao- era, collectivism was so prevalent that individual’s physical attractiveness was mostly neglected. From the early 60’s to the late 70’s, an army uniform was the most popular fashion statement. The beauty industry almost disappeared in China. The influence of Mao-era continued even ads of the early 1980’s, in which women models “looked like casually dressed, ordinary young women” (Johansson, 2001). People were discouraged from and chastised for indulging in the “bourgeois” lifestyle. Of course, in the Mao-era people were striving for food so concept such as “eating disorder” was almost non- existent. At the same time, most people did not have disposable money for remodeling their bodies. Things have been changing in the past two decades. With the development of economy, living standard is improving quickly in China. People begin to pay more attention to their physical appearance, introducing a booming beauty industry. According to a recent study, the average monthly expenditure for women between the age of 18 and 35 is 604 yuan in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, while cosmetics are the fourth largest expense for them 1 . A recent market survey published in China Cosmetics & Detergents Reports (CCDR) also indicated that cosmetics represent about five percent of all product categories being retailed by the drugstores surveyed in Wuhan, a city in Central China 2 . Meanwhile, western commercials with ideal images began to 1 Shanghai’s Beauty Industry Attracts Foreign Players. Xinhua News Agency, Aug 23 rd , 2001. 2 China Retail Shifts. Global Cosmetic Industry, Sep2002, Vol.170 Issue 9, p17.

Authors: Xue, Fei., Zhou, Shuhua. and Zhou, Peiqin.
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background image
7
Current Case in China
Most body image studies were conducted in western societies, whereas little is
known of the effects on media consumers outside of these environments. The present
study is an exploratory effort to test this effect in China. Compared to its western
counterparts, China has its own characteristics regarding body images. During the Mao-
era, collectivism was so prevalent that individual’s physical attractiveness was mostly
neglected. From the early 60’s to the late 70’s, an army uniform was the most popular
fashion statement. The beauty industry almost disappeared in China. The influence of
Mao-era continued even ads of the early 1980’s, in which women models “looked like
casually dressed, ordinary young women” (Johansson, 2001). People were discouraged
from and chastised for indulging in the “bourgeois” lifestyle. Of course, in the Mao-era
people were striving for food so concept such as “eating disorder” was almost non-
existent. At the same time, most people did not have disposable money for remodeling
their bodies. Things have been changing in the past two decades. With the development
of economy, living standard is improving quickly in China. People begin to pay more
attention to their physical appearance, introducing a booming beauty industry. According
to a recent study, the average monthly expenditure for women between the age
of 18 and 35 is 604 yuan in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, while cosmetics are
the fourth largest expense for them
1
. A recent market survey published in China
Cosmetics & Detergents Reports (CCDR) also indicated that cosmetics represent about
five percent of all product categories being retailed by the drugstores surveyed in Wuhan,
a city in Central China
2
. Meanwhile, western commercials with ideal images began to
1
Shanghai’s Beauty Industry Attracts Foreign Players. Xinhua News Agency, Aug 23
rd
, 2001.
2
China Retail Shifts. Global Cosmetic Industry, Sep2002, Vol.170 Issue 9, p17.


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