More than four years ago, I bought an FHM magazine from the newsstand, without caring to ask a friend for a free subscription. This is my way of paying tribute, buying things I like on my own money, whether it’s books, records or other publications. I think that FHM has redefined Chinese standards of sexiness – they even changed my sense of what is beautiful. Let me take you through it.
Up untill twenty years ago, China didn’t have a concept for “sexy”. We emphasised the beauty of the soul, but we were not too comfortable talking about the body, and even our written language did not have the adequate words for it. Later, beside illustrated books, the internet arrived, and we learnt from Europe and America as well as Japan what “sexy” meant. Europe, America and Japan all exaggerate breasts and buttocks; but there are also minor differences, Europe and America emphasize hips, whereas Japan values a milky complexion. Unfortunately, Chinese women are not particularly well endowed in breasts and buttocks, and it’s hard to say whether these attributes are the most suitable for Chinese national characteristics. And there was still work to do to identify Chinese symbols of sexiness.
Looking back at the question, what parts of the female body is Chinese classical literature most interested in? The first is the waist, the second is the foot. No doubt, these are the central Chinese symbols of sexiness. Another one is the belly. But bellies are exotic, the bellies of Feitian women in Kabuki are really beautiful, but they respond to the Indian style. Actually, the whole region from India to the Middle East, has a quasi-worship of women’s beautiful bellies. Ideas about what is sexy vary around the world, that is really interesting.
When FHM created a standard for Chinese sexiness, I don’t know if they consciously shifted the visual focus from the breasts and buttocks towards the waist and feet, but the practical effects were there. I remember how four years ago, I saw the cover of this magazine, with an aesthetic corresponding to the internet age, and it was like a trigger inside my heart. I was tired of watching European and American’s fleshy buttocks, or Japanese mountains of breasts, but the waist of this standing out girl and her high-heel sandals, I don’t know, she just won over my heart. 阿朵那样的天赋禀异在中国人里边并不常见，装女郎的代表作，应该是向德国世界杯致敬弄一帮模特在泥地里打滚那 期 legs were too photoshopped, and the most beautiful element was still the middle part.
I used to doubt if FHM would survive long, but then I understood how clever they were: rather than following trends, they revived Chinese men’s traditional sense of beauty. No wonder that trend-followers now all suddenly want to understand this phenomenon, and any magazine without this type of photograph in it will be an embarrassment to the stalls selling it. This has already impacted the economy of female beauty, feeding innumerable studios and photographers, three or four minor stars, as if coming from a pipeline, waist and belly exposed (even in the snow), and always in high sandals (even in bed), but the cleavage must be squeezed (even if it’s A cups), and the legs photoshopped so the proportion of head to body reaches nine. Actually, it’s no exaggeration to say that a head to body proportion of nine has become out of date: now you have to photoshop untill you reach 12. I’ve developed a habit of reading the comment thread when I look at a picture, and see how internet users curse the poor photoshop. I think we can say that excessive photo-shopping has become a public nuisance. In the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, Han Xue was stunning, so I looked for a photo of her online, to show a friend. He said her breasts were beautiful. I don’t think people would notice at first glance, but it’s photoshop! If you look at the pearl necklace she wears on her neck, it is all been photoshopped out of shape.
Those are not things I used to think about, untill last month, when I happened to stroll into an AV sex-shop in Tokyo. I went in as a kind of pilgrimage, but I left after only a few minutes: to say the truth, I was no longer into this Japanese style of naked girls walking straight upright, and I realised that the standards of Chinese sexiness set by the FHM girls had completely changed my taste.
(If you look at this photo of Han Xue, you can see how the pearl necklace on her chest has been photoshopped out of shape.)
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