A new commercial for a Japanese skincare brand has surpassed the typical beauty ads and instead shone a spotlight on the humiliation and exclusion of Chinese women who don’t get married.
The spot is filmed documentary-style and is four minutes long, and follows the daily struggles and social pressures experienced by three Chinese women, all in their twenties and all single.
The SK-II skincare clip is called ‘Marriage Market Takeover’ and shows the ever strong stigma of unmarried women in this culture, including the labels of ‘Sheng Nu’ or ‘leftover women’ to explain their status.
“You become a subject people talk about, and you get so much social pressure,” says one woman in the commercial.
The reality is that in China, unmarried women are believed to be incomplete, and so families often take their children to ‘marriage markets’, displaying signs of age, weight, income and occupation in the hopes a suitable partner will choose them.
The ad instead tries to turn this negative connotation around, by having women post pictures of themselves around the marriage market, with supportive messages following.
“I don’t want to get married just for the sake of marriage,” says an English translation of one of these messages. “I won’t be happy that way.”
And as the parents visit the market and witness their daughter’s photos with messages of confidence, their views on marriage become less rigid.
“My daughter is beautiful,” one mother says, looking at an image of her daughter with positive reinforcement messages. “Leftover women should be proud.”
“If she feels OK to be single, we will respect her,” a father added.