Despite a growing body positivity movement, women around the world are often still subjected to unrealistic beauty standards. In China, this issue is under the spotlight once again after a store was found to have labeled large women’s clothes “rotten.”
It all started on Nov. 11, when a netizen posted a photo of a size chart she found in a China branch of the Taiwanese-owned hypermarket chain RT-Mart. But this isn’t your average size chart, as it included nicknames for each size, tagging L “rotten,” XL “extra totten,” and XXL “rotten to the core.” Meanwhile, S was called “skinny” and M “beautiful.”
The photo went viral on Chinese social media platform Weibo, leading to enraged comments. One commenter called the chart “foul-smelling marketing,” while another called out the store for its “deformed aesthetic.”
China Women’s News, a newspaper owned by the state-owned All-China Women’s Federation, also released an editorial in response to the controversy titled: “The evil and vulgar body-shaming chain is on the road to ruin.” It also called the store’s labels “vulgar marketing.”
RT-Mart quickly addressed the controversy, issuing a public apology a day after the photo of the chart was posted. It said that the placard was only displayed in one store and that they have instructed to “remove the problematic sign.” The company also pledged to strengthen their “internal management to ensure that such incidents will not occur again.”
RT-Mart has over 400 stores in mainland China.
In response, some netizens said that whoever approved the chart should be held responsible as well, while others claimed that they will boycott the company.
Toxic beauty standards are common around the world. In many parts of Asia, being skinny is still glorified. Chinese social media often births problematic beauty trends that perpetuate this expectation, like the “Lipstick-on-Collarbone Challenge” that had people balancing a tube of lipstick on their collarbone, to show off that they are thin.