Major Chinese supermarket chain, RT-Mart has apologised to customers after it featured a size chart labelling L, XL and XXL-sized women as “rotten” and “terrible”.
A photo of the sign went viral on Weibo – a Chinese social media platform that’s been compared to Twitter – with the poster writing: “I was shocked when I saw this size chart at a RT-Mart today. Am I completely rotten?”
The chart compared the height and weight measurements associated with each type of clothing size, with an additional word prescribed to each size. Sizes S and M were regarded as “beautiful” and “slim” but sizes L, XL and XXL were described as “rotten,” “terrible” and “extremely terrible”.
In response, RT-Mart have since removed the sign from stores and issued a public apology to customers.
“We are sorry for the inappropriate wording of our marketing material and the offence it caused,” they wrote on their Weibo.
However, according to New York-based publication SupChina some customers have threatened to boycott the store, declaring its actions as “intentional and malicious”.
“Your apology is NOT accepted. See you on my blacklist,” wrote one user.
The offensive sign has also garnered criticism from the group China Women’s News, which is run by the Communist Party-affiliated All China Women’s Federation. Commenting on their official Weibo, they said the chart was “detestable” and called for RT Mart to learn from their mistakes.
“Don’t lose respect to grab attention. Advertising and marketing should reflect the corporate values and cultural image. A responsible company should not conduct marketing this way. Learn the lesson!” the group said.
In recent years several ‘challenges’ have circulated on Weibo and Instagram which have put China’s fatphobic attitudes into the spotlight. While the body positive movement is emerging, the ideal female body shape as someone who is small-framed and thin still dominates.
Writing for Stylist in 2016, Beijing journalist Yuan Ren described it as a “cultural and historical” standard of female beauty that normalises fat-shaming.
“Most Chinese women – unless they were perpetually stick thin – have had some experience of being ‘fat-shamed’ and made to feel like they should be smaller in size,” wrote Ms Ren.
“In China, where cultural and historical standards of female beauty dictates that women must be slim (or “skinny” by British standards), variations on this benchmark – whether it’s athleticism or curves – just don’t quite cut it. There is simply no such thing as ‘big boned’.”
Some other trends which have emerged on the platform include the collarbone challenge – in which women shared photos of themselves balancing coins above their collarbones – and the #A4Challenge where women posted photos measuring their waists against a sheet of A4 paper.
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While these hashtag trends were heavily criticised, many also participated in them.
The dissent, however, is growing. One example included the #4cmWristChallenge from just this year in which women took photos of their wrists next to a ruler with the goal of measuring under 4cm.
While the hashtag got over 17 million views in just days, some hijacked the hashtag with photos of their middle finger and messages protesting the unattainable body standards.