Chinese Store Criticized After Calling Large-Size Women’s Clothes ‘Rotten’

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A Chinese clothes store has been criticized for openly mocking and fat-shaming shoppers by calling its large-size women’s garment “rotten.”

RT-Mart, a Taiwanese chain store in China, placed chart measurements ranging from small to XXL with descriptions that read: “Slim,” “Beautiful,” Rotten,” Extra Rotten,” Rotten to the Core.”

The characterization has fueled widespread criticism in a country that has been known to fat shame online and in advertisements. The Asian country is also known for its narrow views of femininity and beauty.

A customer was the first to notice the depiction and shared the news on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, to raise awareness about the despicable act. On the blog, the resident asked for help in bringing the store to justice. “I was stupefied when I saw this at an RT-Mart location today. I feel rotten to the core,” he said.

Photos of the chart, which wrote that the clothes were meant for women aged between 18 and 35, quickly became viral online as users spread the news like wildfire. On November 11, China celebrates its Singles’ Day, a yearly online shopping spree that Alibaba invented as a Valentine’s Day alternative.

Globally, more people criticize and tackle body shaming as more and more women promote fitness and body acceptance. Chinese residents have begun to fight back against the country’s long-held image of an ideal woman; pale, thin, and youthful, the San Francisco Gate reported.

Several women, and a few men, began to spread photos of their waists behind a vertical piece of white paper online in 2016. The trend’s aim was to boast of their small sizes while others began a different campaign.

Feminist Zheng Churan took up the challenge but gave it a twist; she placed the A4 paper sideways and expressed her pride for her fat waist. A social media user, Zhai Ruoyi, wondered how people could have A4-sized waists when it was the size of their legs.

For a long time, clothing brands in China have been accused of portraying unrealistic beauty standards. People have criticized J. Crew’s XXXS and triple zero sizes for women for being unhealthy and unattainable. In 2014, the company released a statement that said it released the sizes after popular customer demand in Hong Kong-based stores.

Some people who saw RT-Mart’s size descriptions wondered if the store was afraid of losing revenue with the discriminating depictions. Others believed the company was trying to be funny. But others think that it reflects a much deeper problem of body standards.

Weibo blogger Laphro noted that the issue was one of society’s two most common and nauseating standards: women’s body figures and men’s height.

Reporter Jen Chen from the city of Jinan in eastern China said that the sizes from small to XXL corresponded with similarly sounding Mandarin adjectives. However, she noted that another world for large, Liang, meant attractive and should have been used to depict a more positive outlook.

Later, RT-Mart officials issued an apology that said they were “deeply sorry for the inappropriately worded marketing material and the offense it caused.” The company also said it has since removed the degrading depictions that were only found in one of its stores but did not disclose the location.

The newspaper owned by All-China Women’s Federation, China Women’s News, published an editorial article on Saturday that called the evil and vulgar body-shaming actions of the store as the beginning of the road to ruin. It added that RT-Mart was walking on thin ice with its horrific acts of public humiliation.

The issue is a long-standing problem in Chinese society, especially in job advertisements, where employers often require specific physical traits for their applicants, including height, weight, and attractiveness. Alibaba had a 2015 job posting that required applicants to have “recognizably good looks,” which later drew flak from online users and forced the company to take it down, The New York Times reported.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.

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