When I went to Shanghai in 2015, I was placed in one of the most innovative and bustling cities in the world. Business and opportunity were waiting at every corner: as a fashion capital of Asia, a world finance center, and the biggest city in China in terms of population, it painted a clear picture of China’s economic and political rise on the world stage. This sort of innovation attracted people from every corner of the earth, so I felt like I was in a melting pot of cultures contained by Han Chinese culture.
This new wealth for the Chinese people means that they can feed their families, provide shelter, and provide them proper avenues to advance their futures in the direction they desire. However, I have noticed that it has also lead to rampant materialism and high expectations in dating. Wanting the best for yourself is one thing, but this is often taken to extremes, as seen in the infamous statement “I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on the back of a bicycle.”
One of my colleagues introduced me to the Chinese dating show If You Are the One. This show has several women judging men in order to determine if they should go on a date. The first few seasons were the subject of controversy, as these women often glorified materialism and appearance over other aspects of relationships. The content prompted the government to speak out and say that the show should stop focusing on materials, instead focusing on other aspects of relationships. Still, this hasn’t done much to curb the growing materialism in Chinese dating culture and in mainland China in general.
[LINK TO VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beC4KgolQiU]
That’s not to say America doesn’t have its own problems with materialism and obsession with appearance. After all, we have Kanye West’s new fashion line, which you could spend $1560 USD at for a new sweater. Or you could suck all the air out of a shot glass to get lips like Kylie Jenner. Perhaps this is not something unique only to China, but a global trend; as social media becomes more popular, people gain more insight into the lavish lifestyles of the rich and beautiful, and they want to attain that same likeness. Whatever the case may be, how it will play out in the future is unknown, but it will hopefully get better from here.
Written by: Kevin Sonukan