Yesterday one of my friends asked me if I had come across an article about an SK II skincare commercial featuring young women from China. I had not and became kinda curious about the article especially because it was in the Washington Post, and had to do with a very luxurious and pricey skin care brand which is rumored to be up for sale.
At 4:30 this morning I was awakened by the lovely squirrels that have found a temporary home in the walls of my house (hopefully we will have them out by next week before I turn into the incredible hulk and tear this house down), and just decided to check the commercial out. I had no idea that the whole thing was going to be in mandarin, ( i think that was the language) but about halfway in, I started crying like a baby!! You see I didn’t need any subtitles because I knew all too well what was going on in this ad. The commercial dealt with a very heavy topic which not surprisingly is not specific to China or Chinese culture. The ad dealt with unmarried single women over 25 other wise referred to as “sheng nu” i.e. “leftover women”.
The ad allowed these unmarried women to discuss the guilt, embarrassment, and pain they suffered because of the pressure placed on them by their parents and society. It literally gave the women a platform to create a “gallery” of sorts where they posted their pictures in an outdoor market with captions explaining to their parents their real feelings about marriage and why they felt they were still single. Some of the captions provided apologies to parents for not fulfilling their dreams of seeing their daughters get married, others declared their feelings of simply being happy alone, and independent.
The setting happened to be an outdoor market called a “marriage market” where parents posted resume ads, similar to ads that you would find in coffee shops for music lessons and nannies, for their unmarried daughters in the hopes to find these single ladies a husband. At the end of the ad, the parents all find their daughters pictures with the captions and realize that their daughters are simply women trying to live life the best way they can, and it is obvious then to the parents that these women are not “leftover”.
Unfortunately, according to the age expectations of Chinese culture I would be considered beyond “left over”, as a matter of fact, I would be expired and on my way out of the fridge to be tossed in the garbage. While I am not Chinese, and do not live in China, I would be lying if I said that I could not relate to this SK II ad. My mother does not pressure me about dating or marriage (thank God), but there is certainly a societal pressure that I deal with more often than not. I have weekly and sometimes daily conversations with my other single girlfriends about dating, marriage, and starting families and in each and every situation there is always this daunting pressure that lingers behind. I think that most women on the planet have been raised to strive to be married. In most cases no matter how many degrees, material possessions, or money we make, if we are not married by a certain age there is a major sense of failure that we feel.
Now in saying those things, there is a very important other side of the coin. Society is slowly changing, Obama announced just yesterday that he was going to initiate plans for a monument to be created signifying the equality of women. We have a serious female democratic presidential candidate, and more specific to my race, ethnicity, and culture; we have more black female entrepreneurs starting businesses than ever before out pacing any other demographic in the country. We also have black women attending and graduating college at much higher rates than their/our black male counter parts. To bring it all the way home, I live in the nations capitol, a place that is home to one of the highest populations of “educated people” in the country, and 112 females for every 100 males according to city-data.com. So what does this mean? It means that it may or may not be in the cards for all of us women folk to get married, and you know what? That reality is ok!
We are all a result of some super sperm that fertilized an egg and allowed for us all to be here for a reason, and some of the reasons for our individual existences are to be more than a wife or a mother. We are here to live our best lives which includes finding happiness and most importantly with ourselves first. I would like to give a great big gigantic hug to the CEO of SK II for recognizing that and creating this wonderful and powerful ad celebrating women period!