Friday, October 31, 2014

Are you a Chinese redneck?


Thanks to WeChat (China's hottest social media) and a fairly decent grasp of written Chinese, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of insights. I can't help but want to share some of them because they really shed light on Chinese pop culture.

I recently wrote a post about Chinese beauty standards. In that post, I explained the different tiers of women based on weight and one of the Chinese words within the original post that I struggled to translate was diǎosī (屌丝). There are some similar terms in English used to describe a certain subset of the underclass such as redneck (in the US), chav (UK), and bogan (Oz), but none of these words exactly capture the essence of what a diǎosī exactly is. I tried asking Ming, but being the old man that he is, he didn't even understand what it meant in Chinese, let alone how to translate it into English. I guess I should cut him some slack because it took me a while to figure out what twerking and catfish meant. Once out of high school, slang is a tricky thing to keep up with.

Diǎosī is a fairly new word in the Chinese lexicon and keeps popping up all over the internet. Today I was finally able to get a better grasp on the word, thanks to a friend's post on WeChat. I realized that Ming and I are both very much diǎosī, Chinese rednecks, by the standards outlined in said post. Check out if you match any of the criteria (translated into English below):

Illustration of two diaosi. photo via weixin

For men:
1. Your entire wardrobe costs less than 1000 RMB (US$150).
2. You only drink baijiu (Chinese liquor made from sorgum) or beer.
3. You wear clothes from 361 degrees or Jeanswest (Chinese brands a step below their foreign equivalents of Adidas or The Gap).
4. You had less than three girlfriends before getting married.
5. You drink Kangshifu (ordinary Chinese brand) green tea.
6. Your annual bonus is less than 10,000 RMB (US$1500).
7. Your cigarettes cost less than 20 RMB (US$3.50) a pack.
8. Your car cost less than 100,000 RMB (US$15,000).
9. You haven't taken a real vacation in several years.
10. Your shoes cost less than 800 RMB (US$130).

For women:
1. You haven't changed your hairstyle in the last 6 months.
2. You have a resting bitch face (don't dare give a sexy pout).
3. You've never bought a bikini.
4. You don't wear sparkly nail polish.
5. You don't wear matching panty sets.
6. You've been struggling to diet for the past five months.
7. You like to walk behind your man(?).
8. You don't like looking in the mirror.
9. You don't wear shoes with more than a 5 cm (2 inch) heel.

According to this list, many people I know, both foreign and Chinese, are diǎosī. It seems to encapsulate your run-of-the-mill middle class adult. I do find it interesting that men's standards focus on finance and women's more on appearance. However, I don't find being a diǎosī anything to be ashamed of. I guess I could make more effort to be more of a girly girl and have my under garments match, but now that I'm in my 30's my sparkling nail polish days are over.

The good news, even if you are a Chinese redneck, you probably aren't an American one. The checklist for that is much harder for the average person to accomplish (and to understand, for that matter).

Are you a diǎosī (Chinese redneck)? Do you have a similar term where you are from? Do you find this kind of thing offensive or funny?

3 comments:

Constance - Foreign Sanctuary said...

A very interesting post!! In Taiwan most women (and men, too) try to stay as white as possible. It is a status thing as well. White skin signifies that you have an office job and are not a laborer. I know some of my friends wear gloves, jackets, and facemasks during the summer just to keep their skin as white as possible. Is it the same in China as well?

martalivesinchina said...

I have always translated diaosi as loser (well, translated in my mind, not on any document haha). I guess by Chinese standards, not earning enough money (for men) and not being beautiful enough (for women) does mean being a loser.

Anyway, I think diaosi refers more to 20 something year old people, we don't have to worry too much about fitting in the category :D

Have you watched 屌丝男士?

rosieinbj said...

@Constance, yes, white is definitely good, especially for females.

@Marta, yes, loser might hit the mark better. I listened to a chinesepod cast and they discussed diaosi. I think that was one of the words that came up. It's interesting because the financial standard set for men is kind of ridiculous, even for those out of there 20's.