The children’s clothing section at Uniqlo in China has gained an unexpected new clientele: adult women.
In the latest viral challenge to sweep Chinese social media, women pose for dressing-room selfies in children’s T-shirts from the Japanese fashion giant. The trend has ignited heated a debate about whether it promotes body shaming, with experts raising concerns that it reinforces the country’s unhealthy standards of beauty.
“This is a dangerous trend, not just in terms of a drive for thinness and the pressure this puts on women and girls, but also in terms of the overt sexualization of women,” said Tina Rochelle, an associate professor in social and behavioral sciences at the City University of Hong Kong who researches the influence of gender and culture on health. She said that the small clothes are likely to be tighter and more form fitting on a woman’s body.
waists behind a vertical sheet of A4 paper to show they were “paper thin.”
That challenge was so popular that celebrities took part and Chinese state media covered it, prompting one feminist campaigner, Zheng Churan, to write in a riposte, “I love my fat waist” on a piece of paper held horizontally over her waist.
In 2015, for the “belly button challenge,” people reached one arm behind their back and around their waist to touch their bellybutton — ostensibly to brag about how thin they were.
There seems to be some growing awareness of body positivity in China. A few months ago, a store faced a backlash for labeling larger women’s clothing sizes as “rotten,” prompting it to apologize.
But Dr. Rochelle, the City University of Hong Kong professor, noted that while there was an increasing willingness among women to call out body shaming and share their experiences of it online, there were little indicators that society at large was changing.