A4 is the New Skinny Standard

After some computer issues which made me lose the article I was going to post about Pres. Obama having another meeting with Pres. Xi, I ran into this one that appears to be more pressing among us “regular” people.

Chinese citizens have taken it upon themselves to put another measure of beauty. A4 is a size of paper and from what I’ve seen on the Internet, people are falling for this. If your waist size is slimmer than the width of the paper, you are deemed skinny and therefore, attractive.

Here’s a momentary transgression – who the hell comes up with this poppycock? Someone who wants to feel better about themselves by putting others beneath them. The article (much farther down in the post) have covered the various perspectives, so I’m just putting my two cents in.

We should view everyone as attractive. Humanity gets more done and accomplishes greater feats by working together, so don’t divide us.

Although it’s easy to judge on the surface (and plenty of people do it), let’s gradually not be so quick to judge based on first impressions and what’s presented on the outside.  People should evaluate the whole person once they get to know the people they’re evaluating.  Don’t forget to evaluate yourselves.  Use what people perceive of you to your advantage.  Maybe you spilled coffee on your shirt one too many times and people think you’re sloppy, not because you were running so you’re not late to work, or you’re off-putting because you need a shower after your morning run.  Wake up a little earlier, put your coffee in a life-proof travel mug, and use deodorant.  So evaluate holistically.

I don’t share much about myself but I will in this post. My waist exceeds the A4 sheet of paper by a couple of inches, but if I turn sideways, you’ll see that I look like I’m a few months pregnant.  Should I view myself as hideous because I’m a couple of inches wider than the paper?

We get really busy with all of our priorities and forget to put ourselves on the priority list. I know I do that, since my tell is to not publish anything on this blog. I care about EACh so much and I miss being a regular person because I’ve been so busy.  It’s also hard to make time to exercise when you’re in such high demand and feel guilty for taking any hour off.  Once I take some time to walk to my local corporate coffee shop, I’m still thinking about all the people counting on me, and I’m stressed beyond belief.

I’m going through a mental decline for the past few years, only operating at 30% at most of what I was capable of at my peak, when I really felt like Beyoncé’s song, I Run the World, because I really did manage everything and have successful results. Now I’m in the fight of my life, struggling harder than being homeless, than my grandmother’s death, than failure (not getting into the Teaching Credential Program the first time, not being able to be the teacher my bright students deserve, not spending time with my family). Some people say all that and then some is part of being an adult, and some will sarcastically welcome you to adulthood. Being adult means taking responsibilities and being able to provide for yourself and those you take care of. Ask yourself if you’re able to care for yourself, and if the answer is no, take some time for yourself so you can be the best you can be.

Don’t just base your judgment on the surface; once you spend a little time and effort investigating, you’ll see you’ve missed so much.

The article is from the NY Times. Check them out for an embedded link and image to China Daily’s Twitter.

On Social Media in China, Size 0 Doesn’t Make the Cut

A 24-year-old Chinese student who did not want her full name to be used holding up a piece of paper to show the slimness of her waist. Credit Courtesy of Ms. Liu
A 24-year-old Chinese student who did not want her full name to be used holding up a piece of paper to show the slimness of her waist. Credit Courtesy of Ms. Liu

BEIJING — In the latest beauty craze sweeping social media in China, women — and some men — are boasting that they are paper thin, by posting photographs of their waists behind a vertical piece of A4 paper.

To qualify, the waist must be entirely hidden by the paper. A piece of A4 paper is 8.3 by 11.7 inches, roughly the size of a sheet of American letter paper. Holding it horizontally is cheating.

With the hashtag #A4Waist and a handful of variations, the trend is attracting hundreds of photographs and thousands of comments, on Weibo and other social media networks like Weixin or WeChat. Even People’s Daily, the Communist party newspaper, is joining in.

Skinny-bordering-on-emaciated is a widespread standard of beauty for women, one that has been criticized as an unhealthy ideal of female attractiveness.

The tiny waist has a long tradition in China, going back at least to King Ling of Chu, who ruled from 540 to 529 B.C. Many in China know the passage from the Book of Han, the history of the Western Han dynasty: “The King of Chu loved a narrow waist. Many people at court starved to death.”

As noted in “Mozi,” the text compiled by followers of the philosopher Mozi: “So his ministers ate only one meal a day, and only fastened their belts after taking a breath. They were only able to stand up by holding onto a wall.”

Several commentators have found the A4 trend disturbing.

“Bodies don’t need eyes staring at them,” Zheng Churan wrote on a piece of A4 paper that she held horizontally, not vertically, below her waist. “I love my fat waist.”

Zheng Churan, a feminist, posted her own photo with the paper held horizontally and the message: “Bodies don’t need eyes staring at them. I love my fat waist.” Zheng Churan
Zheng Churan, a feminist, posted her own photo with the paper held horizontally and the message: “Bodies don’t need eyes staring at them. I love my fat waist.” Zheng Churan


In a telephone interview, He Xiaobin, senior fashion features editor at the Chinese edition of GQ magazine, said, “I find it completely stupid.’’

“Everybody has a different frame and body shape,” Mr. He said. “Using a single size to define all human beings and thinking you have created a new standard is arrogant and foolish.”

The A4 waist challenge annoyed him, he said, for allowing “certain people to gain bragging rights, while leaving others in dismay.”

Luckily, some who do not qualify are turning to humor for comfort. Can they substitute a different paper size, such as A3, which is 11.7 inches across? Or measure a body part besides the waist?

As the user Zhai Ruoyi wrote on her Weibo: “How can you have an A4 waist? I have A4 legs!”

The World Health Organization has registered concern about rising obesity in China, where it says greater prosperity and changing diets are pushing obesity rates to 20 percent in some cities.

An A4 piece of paper sets a daunting standard for a waist. Tripling its width — to about 25 inches — to measure the circumference would leave it smaller than the average American waist, which is 34 to 35 inches.

Even for China, where many women are thin, the A4 waist is very small. As the user LiuXXXStar wrote on Weibo: “My waist is small enough, but it’s not an #A4Waist.”

This is not the first skinny craze to circulate on Chinese social media in recent years. An earlier one featured women posting photographs of themselves wrapping an arm all the way around their waist to qualify as sufficiently slim.



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I began writing Elle's Adventure in China (EACh) in June 2014 as a fun summer project, but as obstacles kept interfering with my plans, I forked and forked more options. I took writing this novel much more seriously in mid-July, and want to have it officially published someday in my lifetime. As many artists put their hearts into their projects, so do I. I did not start out liking to read, but a professor suggested a book for me for homework a few years ago, and it was an amazing book. Since then, I read for pleasure, and I hope my novel, Elle's Adventure in China, does the same for as many of you as possible. The same thing goes to writing. I did not like to write until I took a course where the professor and papers made me love to write. I hope every one of you find what makes you happy and dedicated to work. In May 2015, I started my other blog, Read and Write Here (R&WH), as a place to post other things that aren't China- and Chinese culture-related and not EACh. I share some of my memories and experiences from student teaching, irregular participation in Daily Prompts, etc. I'd like to have regular people and bloggers to write book reviews and post it on R&WH someday. Keep reading and writing!

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