Western vs Chinese Beauty Standards

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We all know that Chinese girls have specific ideals of female beauty, but do foreigners share these ideals? Let’s compare. Western girls like to be tanned, Asian girls prefer white skin. Let’s look at the standards of beauty in China and in the West, and see how they differ.

  1. Chinese beauty standards: Big eyes

Today, the Chinese think that girls with 大眼睛 (big eyes) are the most beautiful, especially if their eyes have a 双眼皮 (double eyelid). These modern Chinese beauty standards show a certain fascination with the West, and more and more girls are resorting to cosmetic surgery to create these “double eyelids”.

But, do foreigners like it? On the contrary, most foreigners seem to prefer Chinese girls with slanted, narrow eyes and eyebrows. In China, 细长眼睛 (narrow eyes) with 单眼皮 (single eyelid) are not beautiful at all, so it seems that when it comes to eyes and body shape, the beauty standards do not coincide.


This girl on the left, 吕燕 (Lu yan), is a 模特 top model, who’s extremely famous in China. She’s often considered the most beautiful and popular Chinese model by westerners. Lots of foreigners think her very beautiful, maybe because of her typical 东方古典美 (oriental look). She looks exotic, which often gain a lot of attention.

However, the Chinese tend to think that she is kind of “ugly” and “strange”, especially because of her narrow and long eyes, her big lips and very large face. Her face is quite exceptional and unique and as such she doesn’t quite fit with traditional Chinese beauty standards.

In the eyes of the Chinese society, the girl on the right in the picture is prettier, and her big eyes are definitely the dream of every Chinese girl.

The second Chinese beauty standard is the white skin. Let’s understand why.

  1. Chinese beauty standards: White Skin

Some Chinese beauty standards are inspired by Western looks, but much remains typically oriental. 皮肤白 (white skin) is one of them. You will never see a girl applying self-tanning in China, or voluntarily sunbathing, unless she has spent quite a lot of time in the West. On the contrary, Chinese girls try to protect their skin from the sun as much as possible! If you’ve been to China, you undoubtedly have noticed how they wisely use umbrellas, jackets and sunscreen to protect their skin from the sun.

Having a white skin is an old Chinese beauty standard that comes from Ancient Chinese traditions. In ancient China, only rich people had a white skin because they didn’t have to work in the fields. Their creamy, flawless, white skin was proof that they were of a different class. That’s why Chinese girls still want a white and smooth skin. There is even Chinese expression praising white skin:

一白遮三丑 (a white complexion is powerful enough to hide seven faults.)

From this expression, it is not hard to see that Chinese traditional beauty standards equate “beauty” with white and smooth skin.

The Chinese girls’ obsession for the white skin is such that the make-up industry sells products in China that are different from westerns, where tanning is an obsession.

  1. Chinese beauty standards: Face shape

In Chinese, there are a lots of words to describe the 脸型 (face shape), much more than the traditional square, oval, round and triangle face shapes in the West. That’s an indication of how seriously the Chinese take face shapes. Two specific shapes are the beauty ideal:

瓜子脸 — melon seed face

鹅蛋脸 — goose egg face

What a yummy description for the ideals of face shapes! If they don’t seem very clear for you, just imagine a face that has the same shape as a melon seed or goose egg.

Not everyone is born with this type of face nowadays, many girls even go through the cosmetic surgery to change the shape of their face. The worst face shape for a Chinese girl is a 国字脸 (square face). A square face is considered very masculine. Generally, Chinese girls want to have an oval face instead of a prominent chin, as it looks more feminine, delicate and cute.

And it is vice versa in the West. The square face is attract more attention and is considered a kind of beauty standard.

  1. Chinese beauty standards: Slim body
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A slim body is what Chinese girls really want. Often their thinness looks very unhealthy, but this is exactly what the traditional standard of Chinese beauty includes.

Lot of girls barely eat in order to lose weight and be always in shape. On the Internet often appears photo of girls comparing their waist size to a A4 sheet of paper, or, if a girl is able to wrap her arms around her own waist — this clearly indicates that being slim is an another obsession in China. It’s incredible!

In the West, girls also take care of themselves, but curvy women are also part of the beauty standards. The breast and booty must be plump, but the waist must be very thin. The ideal body for some foreigners, unfortunately, remains Barbie, the famous doll, with its unrealistic proportions.

What do you think about it?

Daria Kwon © KJCpop.com