China’s ‘leftover women’ ask for freedom to marry for love in beauty campaign

By on Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sheng Nu literally translates to ‘leftover woman’, says Li Yu Xuan, a 33-year old single Chinese woman. “It refers to women over 27 who are not married.”

To shine a spotlight on Chinese women being labelled as a ‘Sheng Nu’, international skincare brand SK-II has released a short four minute film called ‘Marriage Market Takeover’. The campaign aims to highlight that everyone should have the freedom to marry for love and not because of familial or societal pressure.

Here’s the video and it’s eye-opening – try not to feel for the woman whose mum decides to assess her daughter’s appearance on camera:

Since 2004, parents in Shanghai (that’s the only place highlighted) have visited the Marriage Market, paying to post, compare and match personal ads, listing the height, weight, salary, values and personality of their sons and daughters. In some cases, according to the release sent over and Wikipedia (haaaa), women are unaware that their parents have listed them at a marriage market.

A photo of ads at Shanghai Marriage Market

For this campaign, SK-II placed photos of hundreds of unmarried women alongside positive messages from each – ‘I don’t want to get married just for the sake of marriage. I won’t live happily that way’ says one below the face of Li Yu Xuan.

The campaign aims to help change the perception of the word and place emphasis on the individual rights of women (a not entirely unhelpful message if your aim is to sell make-up to them, obviously).

Involved agencyForsman & Bodenfors

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