Chinese men badly groomed?

Chinese men badly groomed?

For men in China, physical appearance has never been regarded as important - but this traditional viewpoint may be changing.

A recent post on the social network website Tianya community claims "women on Shanghai streets are obviously dressed at a higher level than men", and it was accompanied by snapshots of men either poorly dressed or ill mannered. In contrast, their female counterparts appeared fashionable and attractive.

The post stirred up debates, which soon led to even more argument on related topics: Should the men be blamed for not caring about their appearances, do they sacrifice style for comfort, or if they deserve to stand beside Chinese women in terms of physical appearance.

In a virtual space where even the tiniest issue may lead to intense debate and disagreements, opinions were unusually unanimous. There was no doubt about it - Chinese women are better groomed and better looking and that Chinese men are not catching up quickly enough.

Even the men themselves admit this, although they each have their own defence.

"The Chinese have a saying that a girl's face determines her fate. Better-looking women tend to do better in their careers. This is less true for men, who don't face that kind of problem.

"However, I think the key to the question is the role different genders play in the household. Men have played a big role as the main breadwinners, so it's not fair to blame them for not keeping up appearances," says 39-year-old Ping Jiang, an editor in Shanghai.

A survey by Guangzhou Daily shows that 86.5 per cent of male interviewees spend less than one-fifth of their monthly income on cosmetics and clothes, while 38 per cent of them fully support the family expenses and 52 per cent partly support the expenditures.

Raised expectations

The fact that women are now starting to pick on their men's lack of style is a step forward to seek real equality with men, according to Wang Ruihong, a sociology professor with East China University of Science and Technology.

"There are quite a lot of women now who declare that they belong to the Good-looks Club, that they would rather remain single if they cannot marry a decent-looking man. They do not subscribe to the traditional belief that a man needs to offer either fortune or fame," he says.

A cross-cultural survey, conducted by Zhang Jiehai, a psychologist with Shanghai's Academy of Social Sciences, shows that Chinese men fail to attract Western women mostly due to poor hygiene habits such as wearing untidy, crumpled clothes, keeping long fingernails and spitting.

Modern Chinese women not only follow Western fashion trends, but they are beginning to think like their Western sisters.

Zhu Jiemin, 36, a human resource director at an advertising company in Shanghai, says financial pressure or a commitment to work should not and must not be the excuses for Chinese men to neglect grooming.

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