Why A Handsome Man In China Is So Hard To Find

Essay: There are cultural explanations for why that man next to you on the Shanghai subway has his finger in his ear, or his shirt sticking out. Some, however, are ready for grooming and good looks to become as important for Chinese men as a good job and

Letting yourself go in Beijing (Jonathan Kos-Read)
Letting yourself go in Beijing (Jonathan Kos-Read)
Gan Tien

BEIJING - Recently in London somebody had the great idea of putting out a call for people to take mobile-phone photos of handsome men on the city's Underground and then post the pictures on the Internet for everyone to enjoy.

Within just a few days, tens of thousands of pictures were up on display: a debonair older man reading a novel, a dreamy-looking guy with his eyes closed leaning against the door, a young Apollo playing video games, a short-haired bloke with well-formed muscles. In brief, it looks as if London is a paradise full of only the most handsome chaps.

The concept was soon picked up by, the Chinese social networking website. Yes, that's right, someone thought it wise to put out a similar online "Call for handsome Chinese guys on the Underground." Let's just say that photographs most certainly did not come streaming in.

However, a most passionate response was elicited by a very different subsequent appeal to the plugged-in masses: Please send in photos of "the most horrid men on China's subways." Soon there was a digital display of wonders: a man picking his nose, another digging out his earwax, yet another man spraying saliva while talking loudly on his cell phone, and one particularly relaxed fellow putting his belt on in public. One wonders about the pictures that were not taken.

What's wrong with the world!? Have the cute guys all really gone to London, leaving the unsightly ones behind in Beijing?

British class

I must admit that it's probably true that handsome men concentrate in London. Once when I was crossing a street there, a tall blond lad ran past me. He was wearing an Oxford shirt and a pair of tight-fitting blue pants. His tie flew in the air while he ran. His brown postman-style messenger bag hung diagonally over his shoulder.

And when I boarded the train, I saw another guy leaning next to the automatic door with clean and neat short hair. He was wearing a windbreaker and a brown check scarf, simple and elegant.

Back in a Beijing station, a man in front of me was talking to his girlfriend. When he turned around, I saw a whole layer of dandruff on his jacket. Next to him, a portly man grumbled "He – Pei!" and spat a clot of phlegm under the seat.

Now I do believe that some British men have dandruff and also have to spit sometimes. I also believe that Chinese men can look smart in an Oxford shirt, a pair of nicely cut pants and a trench coat. The question is "Why don't we see them?"

Now, "properly dressed" and "smartly dressed" are two different notions. If many men in London look smart, most Chinese men don't even qualify as "properly dressed." Personal upbringing and cultivation are the fundamental reasons. But having a single value system in Chinese society probably also explains why.

Boys next door

In every Chinese boy's youth, there's always a "rival" – the boy next door. This other people's son was always at the top of the class and artistically gifted. When he grows up, he is bound to make big money, have a wonderful wife and raise a genius son just like he him…

On the other hand, tall good-looking, nicely-mannered and physically endowed boys are often used as a negative example. If you look up to him and care about your looks, you'll never make it to the university…!

In short, we are brought up to think that professional success is the unique value. A stylish image, appropriate manners, and smart appearance are never real concerns.

Wang Fong, the editor-in-chief of China's GQ magazine, says: "Chinese men care very much about their career and family, while they have difficulty in accepting the idea that somehow men also have to dress up."

A survey conducted before the launching of L'Officiel Hommes, a new Chinese men's magazine, revealed that for most Chinese men, fortune and social status are the sole priorities. As for their build and looks, who cares!

Queer eyes for straight guys

Although the female fashion and beauty industries are both booming in China, they have a relatively short history in China – and men's fashion, even shorter.

Only now are male fashion magazines getting their Chinese editions -- beyond GQ there's also Esquire and Men's Health – and it may begin to have an effect on men's appearance and grooming. Still, it's undeniable that most of these magazines' readers are either those rare few who are stylish anyway, or those who are gay --though these magazines will deny it.

There is hope. The American TV show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is now broadcast in China, and is slowly climbing in the ratings. In each episode, five tasteful gays come to the rescue of a hopeless straight male.

Guan Zhong, an ancient Han sage, said "Only in a wealthy society are there people of good manners." But I don't feel like waiting any longer. I wish there were a local version of that American reality show. I'd like to see how those picky gay friends handle those guys picking their noses on the subway.

Read the original article in Chinese

Photo - Jonathan Kos-Read

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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