Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chinese Vogue

There are some things that don’t change too much no matter what country you’re in. Rather than go into an in-depth discussion of the universality of human nature (which I totally could do right here right now - dare me) I’m going to give you the example of McDonalds. Apart from in India (apparently they don’t serve meat? Or is that a big rumor-lie?) McDonalds is almost always the same everywhere. Here in China, there is a lot of focus on chicken instead of beef and students use the fast food chain as a studying location because it’s 24 hours even though you can’t get a McFlurry at 4am. How dumb is that!? I go there all the time because the McCafe is the only place within walking distance from my dormitory that serves drinkable coffee.

I digress. My point is, certain things are very similar no matter what country you’re in. Another one of such things is Vogue.

I don’t buy a lot of Vogue issues when I’m in Australia simply because it isn’t that cheap. Not that I don’t think it’s worth about ten dollars. (I can’t even remember how much a Vogue costs in Australia? Probably more than that?) I am more than happy to pay reasonable (read: big) sums of money for good publications, but I pay those reasonable sums for Yen, Rolling Stone, National Geographic and Vanity Fair on an already too-regular basis. Vogue was always just that step too far for me. I’m pleased to say, though, that I’m a regular Vogue purchaser/reader here in China – its 20 kuai. That’s less than four Australian dollars. Four dollars is definitely within my budget.
I’m going to say first of all that the publication isn’t as good as its Australian, let-alone American, let-alone French equivalent. To start with, they republish the exact same string of ads for the first several pages of every issue. Secondly, their editorials are rarely original and simply repeat those from the bigger Vogue sisters. Thirdly, I can’t really read it. I mean, I could but it would be like homework. There are so many proper nouns that I’ve never learnt, and I know Mandarin for ‘red’ but not for ‘scarlet’ or ‘cherry’ or ‘fire-engine’ or ‘crimson’ - and we all know how descriptive these damn things can be.
To be honest, it’s kind of nice to have an excuse to not have to read it all. Hahahaha, I always read the articles when I buy fashion magazines in English because of this frugal old-lady attitude of really ‘getting my money’s worth’, but it’s not a concern with Chinese Vogue – both because it’s actually affordable and because it’s all in characters.

There are certain things about it that weird me out. For example, in the average Australian Vogue there would be, what, about less than 10% of models who are Asian? If that? But in Chinese Vogue editorials I think about half of the models are White. Most of the top-company advertisements feature non-Asian models too. I really came to appreciate this phenomenon when I saw that the November issue's beauty section featured a how-to guide for eyelid tape. What’s that? It’s tape, and when applied properly it sticks part of your lower eyelid to your upper eyelid so that your eyes appear bigger and rounder.

Yeah, I know. Now, please talk to me about East-wannabe-West delusions of beauty.

The skinny craze is also much more apparent here in Chinese Vogue, possibly because Chinese women are just naturally thinner anyway. The waif look is totally consuming, and it’s impossible not to notice. I genuinely believe that the magazine industry is slowly coming out of the intense heroin-chic phase that began in the nineties, but Chinese Vogue is definitely still on that boat. 

The good thing is, when they do an editorial with local (as in, Chinese) models, it can be really great. I especially love the haircuts they can pull off because their hair is so much more manageable than most European hair types. The beauty section (when it isn't selling eyelid tape) can be wonderful in the way it makes the most of a Chinese woman’s amazing facial features, and it just makes me wonder why they would use so many White models. Baffling. The clothes are also, of course, off the chain. The Chinese have a special penchant for excess, and what better platform to take gratuitous photos of material excess than Vogue. It’s wonderful.
The greatest irony of that deep love of success/excess/money/glamour, though, is that Chinese Vogue is most often sold and bought at a places like these. Lol.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...