Sunday, August 05, 2012

In China, dark is ugly - Zhang Lijia

Zhang Lijia
Getting a sun taint is traditionally not done in China, especially for women. The Asia Society collected stories on a dark color and celebrity author Zhang Lijia tells how a darker skin was met with scorn in her youth.

The Asia Society;
Zhang Lijia, a Chinese writer and journalist who came of age in early post-Mao China, recalls the social inferiority of having a darker skin in her autobiography "Socialism is Great!": A Worker's Memoir of the New China. "With darker skin and coarse hands, they had clearly been 'repairing the earth' — their scornful term for tilling the land," writes Zhang about some of her factory co-workers. Later in the book, she recalls, "In his better moods, Father shouted jokes with little regard for taste or sensitivity. 'You're not our natural daughter, you know,' he used to tell me when I was little. 'We picked you up from a coal dump. That's why you're so dark.' Most Chinese consider dark skin ugly. His joke haunted me for years."
More in The Asia Society.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.

More on Zhang Lijia and China's moral crisis at Storify.
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