Freckle Ad Sparks Beauty Standards Debate

February 23, 2019  By Zhang Xingjian  Editor: Lei Yang
The model in the incident Li Jingwen []


Several days ago Spanish fashion brand Zara sparked a fierce debate in China after releasing its latest campaign featuring a Chinese model with freckles.

Some people slammed the advertisement for "defaming the Chinese", while others held the photos were authentic and advised the public should be open to different beauty standards.

The debate largely stems from different beauty standards between the East and West. Here are five of the main points of contention. We should stress these are general descriptions, not universally applicable.

1. "Clean" face vs. Freckled face

British actress Emma Waston and Chinese counterpart Jing Tian []


In East Asia, freckles might be considered a "lethal weakness" for celebrities, especially actors or singers. Although normal people don't care that much, subconsciously they might prefer a "clean" face.

Generally speaking, freckles are more likely to appear if people are out in the sun frequently, and most East Asian women avoid the sun as best they can.

Having freckles, on the contrary, is a trademark for unconventional beauty in the Western world, and some call freckles "angel kisses".

For most westerners, having freckles is no longer just something you have to live with; instead, it is something to be desired. After all, not everyone is lucky enough to have freckles.

2. Big eyes vs. Narrow eyes

Chinese model Lyv Yan and actress Zhao Wei (right) []


When it comes to ocular shapes, it seems Western and Chinese beauty standards don't see eye-to-eye.

Many Chinese think girls with big eyes are the most beautiful. If their eyes have a double-fold eyelid, that is considered perfect.

However, most foreigners seem to prefer Chinese girls with slanted and narrow eyes and eyebrows. Chinese renowned model Lyv Yan is often considered the country's most beautiful by foreigners, while quite a few Chinese people think her appearance doesn't fit with traditional beauty standards.

Related stories