Paper Towns do exist after all!

On the front page of the Sunday Times yesterday, I glanced upon an article which appalled me so much that I had to scrutinize it.

The title read, “Paper-thin netizens in China show off #A4Waist”. What comes after that was this image:



Apparently, the hashtag #A4Waist has been circulating around Chinese social media sites (e.g. Weibo) and women and some men have been posting pictures of their waists hidden almost completely behind a vertical piece of A4 paper, boasting their thin bodies.

This latest craze over attaining an #A4Waist does not need to be further elaborated on how its distorting and breeding unhealthy beauty standards among young women in China and worldwide, and especially little girls.

However, what caught my eye was that trends (regardless of whether they are honorable or perverted) from the exclusive realm of Chinese social media, were able to penetrate mainstream social media sites like Instagram and even make the headlines of international newspapers!

I originally had the preconceived notion that the block-and-clone policy in China as mentioned in class was such that ‘whatever is posted in China, stays in China’, protected by invisible walls that the Chinese government has erected countrywide. It is interesting to discover that the total opposite is happening before our very eyes!

This, then, begs the question: Why can’t China just relak a bit and allow its citizens to venture out into the realms of international social media sites such as Instagram, since the information contained in Chinese social media cannot seem to be contained within its invisible boundaries anymore?

To end off this post before I (and everyone else I presume) continue chionging our reports due wednesday, I went to check the #A4Waist hashtag on Instagram to see if this Chinese Craze had caught on internationally.

Thankfully, it seems to be under control at the moment (only 507 posts, mostly about #lovingyourbody(s)! Whoohoo humanity!)


“I’m not afraid to bear it all! Haha geddit”

2 responses to “Paper Towns do exist after all!”

  1. Thank you for your Interesting insight into Chinese social media policy and its ramifications. As I mentioned in class, the Chinese government “block and clone” policy could have been possible and sustainable based on its huge network size.
    The Invisible wall your post mentions only applies to Chinese who want to use western media. Of importance here, though, is that no such a wall exists for foreigners to access Chinese media. This is rather interesting, yes? It virtually means we can use Chinese media to critique China’s government, but I presume censors likely will screen out negative posts of that sort.
    Although not all western-based social media can be accessed by Chinese (or by people in a handful of other countries), almost all other global citizens freely access Chinese social media such as Weibo, Wechat or Youku. For example, if you have Chinese friends or relatives who reside in China then your main platform for interaction and checking-in would not be Facebook or Whatsapp. Instead, you likely would use Weibo or Wechat. Then, although Chinese media policy is exclusive, they have enough power to draw the world population into their realm of exclusive digital territory.
    Of course, digital technology ceaselessly mutated and blurred national borders, yet in the Chinese case, physical political and territorial power backed by population-size and user-base is well carried over the digital arena.
    Digital-driven innovation has created new power, more wealth, and a greatly-expanded market. We know that. But do we keep in mind the parallel theme that, vice versa, physical power and money in the real world also creates new digital territory too. Further, as long as China maintains its tight Internet control policy, we will see a trend developing in the other direction: more and more Chinese digitally-maneuvering to access the outside-world, and increasingly using that maneuver in their daily lives.
    Actually I am extremely familiar with that trend and maneuver, based on my observation of Korean K-pop stars. This is not because I am Korean, but rather because the Korean case is highly relevant to this issue. The K-pop industry should woo Chinese as their major consumer base. It follows that Weibo is the must-go-to platform for K-pop stars. Chinese media once relied on Korean media to stay up to date about Korean celebrity gossips or anything, but now Korean stars regularly update their Weibo accounts … Logically, then, Korean media and Korean fans should open accounts to stay updated and know what’s going on.
    Yes, Chinese society built an indivisible wall against the outside world, but then they prompt the outside world’s population to pass over the wall and stay within the Chinese realm. Now you see, of course, this is exactly the same formula they devised to build and sustain The Empire against all odds.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Courtney Kheng Avatar
    Courtney Kheng

    Thanks for your interesting reply and for clarifying my misconceptions Prof! I never knew that this wall did not exist for foreigners, it definitely results in many new opportunities of sorts for overseas parties to ‘infiltrate’ this wall, like K-pop stars! I find it strange that it’s like a door that has the handle on the outside to foreigners but has no handle on the inside to local Chinese.


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