This Video Challenges the Stigma of ‘Leftover’ Single Chinese Women

SK-Ii's wants to challenge the "leftover" single woman stigma.
SK-Ii’s wants to challenge the “leftover” single woman stigma.

If Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” were translated into Chinese, its title would be “Sheng Nu,” a phrase that means “leftover woman.” But a new video from beauty brand SK-II aims to change and destigmatize the shame associated with being an unmarried Chinese woman of a certain age. “She’s just average-looking. Not too pretty. That’s why she’s leftover,” a set of parents remark matter-of-factly in the video.

In China, the pressure for women to marry is often tied to cultural filial duty: “Not getting married is like the biggest sign of disrespect,” explains a woman. The video explores more of these tensions, and shows women taking a stand against being labeled a sheng nu.

Although there’s no indication whether the people who appear in the video are actors or not — and yes, it’s another instance of beauty social marketing, as popularized by Dove — the message is real: Single women aren’t powerless. In fact, it made someone at the Cut cry, so the message even tugs at the heartstrings of the jaded.

Video Challenges Stigma of Single Chinese Women