Women pose in children’s clothes? Fads raise body embarrassing concerns.

The children’s clothing department at Uniqlo in China has acquired an unexpected new clientele: adult women.

In the recent viral challenge to sweep Chinese social media, women pose for selfies in the locker room in Japanese fashion giant’s kids’ t-shirts. The trend has sparked a debate over whether it encourages body embarrassment, and experts have raised concerns that it boosts the country’s unhealthy standards of beauty.

“This is a dangerous trend, not only in terms of the pursuit of thinness and the pressures it puts on women and girls, but also in terms of the overt sexualization of women,” said Tina Rochelle, professor of social and behavioral sciences at City University of Hong Kong, which studies the impact of gender and culture on health. She said the little dresses are likely to be tighter and more form-fitting on a woman’s body.

On Weibo, a microblogging platform that has seen the “Adults try on Uniqlo kids’ clothes” hashtag 680 million times, criticism is divided between those who protest the unrealistic standards of beauty that the challenge encourages and those who do More practical to express concern of women stretch the clothes and make them unsaleable.

One user called it “another way of demonstrating the” white, young, thin “aesthetic,” referring to a phrase commonly used to describe the country’s dominant standard of beauty. The person added, “It emphasizes unhealthy body embarrassment and should be firmly resisted.”

Another commenter wrote, “Although I am jealous of these female characters, they should buy the clothes after trying them! The clothes are all stretched out, how can children wear them! “

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Uniqlo didn’t respond to emails for comment on Thursday.

The challenge has been cited as the latest iteration of the “BM style,” a type of fashion recently popularized by cult Italian brand Brandy Melville. She is youthful, casual, and most importantly, thin (her stores only come in one size: extra small). .

Since the brand opened its first Chinese store in Shanghai in 2019, it has become an icon for young women who are dying to squeeze into their clothes. An unofficial size chart distributed on Weibo showed how much women of different sizes would have to weigh to fit – a 5-foot-3 woman would have to weigh 95 pounds.

Brandy Melville did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment.

Jia Tan, an assistant professor of cultural studies at the University of Hong Kong in China, said the apparel industry is a great driver of what is considered a “standard” size. The same sizes are usually smaller in Asia than in the west, she said, and “standard sizes” exclude a significant segment of the population.

“I think we must first question the enormous social pressures on women and why the clothing industry can have so much power in standardizing our looks before we point our fingers at those adult women who present themselves in child sizes,” said Professor Tan said in an email.

Similar online challenges have already gone viral on Chinese social media. In 2016, women – and some men – posed with theirs Waists behind a vertical sheet of A4 paper to show that they were “wafer-thin”.

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This challenge was so popular that celebrities participated and Chinese state media reported what prompted a feminist activist, Zheng Churan, to write “I love my fat waist” on a piece of paper held horizontally above her waist in a counter-speech has been.

In 2015, on the “Belly Button Challenge”, people reached an arm behind their back and around their waist to touch their belly buttons – supposedly to brag about how thin they were.

In China there seems to be a growing awareness of body positivity. A few months ago, a business faced a backlash Marking larger sizes of women’s clothing as “lazy” Request to apologize.

Dr. Rochelle, a professor at the City University of Hong Kong, noted that while women are increasingly willing to shout body shame and share their experiences online, there is little evidence that society as a whole is changing.

“It doesn’t seem at home here that being fat ashamed and the public debate about a woman’s weight can have a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing,” she said.

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