I don’t like to see Chinese girls smoking. It looks unnatural to me and I think it makes the girls look cheap and low class. Smoking doesn’t suit Chinese girls. They just should not do it.
When I arrived in Shanghai in 2001 I never used to see Chinese girls smoking. Previously I had lived in Hong Kong and I used to see Chinese girls there smoking, not so many but also not so few. In Hong Kong I would see Chinese girls smoking in bars, in restaurants, in public places. In Hong Kong it didn’t seem to bother me seeing Chinese girls smoking.
After arriving in Shanghai, I realised that Shanghai in many respects is much more traditional than Hong Kong. Or it used to be, times change. In 2001 in Shanghai the only girls that I could see smoking were girls that worked in bars – ‘bad’ girls so to speak. They would confidently light up a cigarette and it made them look very different to the traditional girls, the ‘good’ girls.
I can remember that I became very accustomed to seeing Chinese girls not smoking, because the next time I went to Hong Kong I was shocked by the sight of so many Chinese girls smoking there. It seemed almost comical to see a Chinese girl with a cigarette in her mouth. It actually seemed to me, at the time, like a disgusting, dirty thing to do. I got back to Shanghai and felt secure in the knowledge that most girls in Shanghai were non-smokers.
Then in 2004 or maybe 2005 things changed. There was a definite shift in terms of social acceptance of females smoking in Shanghai. Suddenly it seemed like every girl in town wanted to take up smoking. I don’t know what caused this sudden paradigm shift, but it did seem very sudden. It seemed like overnight that smoking was the fashionable thing to do.
I started to pay attention to the manner in which Chinese girls in Shanghai smoke and the kind of cigarettes they smoke. I think smoking for Shanghainese girls has nothing to do with any kind of ‘enjoyment’ of smoking, but about ‘style’ and ‘appearance’.
For Shanghainese girls smoking is very much a visual aid that adds something to their modern persona and image. Shanghainese girls smoke in a very stylised fashion.
Allow me to explain. First, they usually smoke very long, slim cigarettes that have a very cool look, elegant and stylish. These cigarettes have a ‘feminine’ look. And they smoke in a very affected manner – a dramatic gesture of the hand taking the cigarette and then she will open her mouth in a very wide arc and inhale sharply. Then immediately exhale in a very dramatic manner. The whole sequence reads like this: Look at me, I am smoking, therefore I am modern and sophisticated.
To my eyes it looks very child-like. A childish display of attention seeking.
I have heard many Chinese girls tell me that they smoke because their job gives them so much pressure. I think this is a very poor excuse. I have also heard that girls whose job may be in a creative field (design, fashion, art, etc) tend to take up the habit of smoking. I would like to know why this is so as it seems strange to me – ‘Oh you’re a fashion designer, that’s great, I guess you are addicted to smoking, right?’.
Smoking for Chinese girls is nothing more than a fashion statement, one that I wish would go out of fashion as it makes Chinese girls look uncultured and lower class, it doesn’t make them look sophisticated in any way, it makes them look uneducated and cheap.
50 total views, 8 views today