Posted by: manafanana | May 26, 2008

Orientalist Marketing: \(^▽^*)いらっしゃ~いっ(*^▽^)/ Edition

Using “Oriental” women as marketing tools is nothing new in the West (or East), but I ran into an ad yesterday that gave me pause. I clicked on it, and was led here:


Orientalism mixed with bullshit sexist dieting schemes = cocktail of badness. Not only does this site make pretty sweeping claims about Chinese women and Chinese culture, but it uses said claims to sell a product that is, well, you’ll see.

Under the pretense of being scientific, the site makes you take a (poorly programmed and glitchy) health quiz before they even tell you what they’re advertising. Don’t worry, I took it so you don’t have to. The above image of the (presumably) Chinese doctor is on every page. She’s skinny. She’s Chinese. She’s a doctor. With a nice manicure.

According to my quiz results, I don’t need to lose any weight. But (Surprise!) I can still benefit from their Chinese secret. Check out the 7-Step process that will get me looking slim and living like an authentic Asian!

Step 1: Eat 5 Meals a Day
Healthy Chinese women know that our body needs five meals a day to help us maintain energy, feel healthier and get less stressed.

Step 2: Love Yourself
Chinese women are very spiritual and understand this key concept to staying slim…It’s very easy with American culture to get caught up staying late at work or solving others problems.

(Emphasis mine.)

These are followed by several steps that have nothing to do with Chinese women such as Step 4: Indulge Yourself and Step 6: Drink 8 glasses of water a day. They’re reminding me of this just in case I wanted to be unhappy and dehydrated the rest of my life.

And then they introduce the product they are trying to sell.

Step 7: China’s 400 Year Old Secret
It’s an ancient Chinese secret.
This closely guarded 400 year old weight loss secret from China has been helping people lose weight. You simply replace some of the high calorie drinks that you consume throughout the day with delicious Wu-Yi Tea, and you will begin to see the pounds and inches disappear until you fit in to the clothes you’ve always dreamed about!
Proven by countless scientific studies and testimonials, Wu-Yi Tea is a mystery to Western society, but is gaining popularity in Hollywood and in fitness circles.

So, let’s review: Chinese women are skinny. They are skinny because they drink Wu-Yi tea. Chinese women are “very spiritual.” Chinese women eat 5 meals a day. Chinese culture is not busy or interpersonal like American culture.

Huh. I would have thought that 600,000,000 women would be less, I dunno, homogeneous. Silly me for thinking that women in China have various sized bodies just like women everywhere else and for thinking that they each have personal preferences, beliefs, and habits. My mistake for thinking they were, whatchamacallits? Oh yeah, individuals.

So what exactly is Wu-Yi tea? This “mystery to Western society”? A fancy name for Oolong tea. Oolong. Fucking. Tea. Yep, that’s right! It’s the same stuff I used to buy out of vending machines between classes in Japan. The same stuff they serve you for free in every Chinese restaurant across the U.S. Who knew this 99 yen thirst quencher was actually a super-secret 400-year-old, expensive weight loss formula?! Someone should tell the Japanese—they’re sitting on a goldmine and the Chinese apparently haven’t clued them in yet.

Speaking of Japan, following all of this crap about Chinese secrets, the website lists historical facts (for facts, read: bullshit) about Chinese medicine and modern scientific studies. These “scientific studies” are from, quote, “the official Chinese Government website.” Because the Chinese government is so into publishing independent scientific studies on their “website.” In Japanese.


Yup! This is an “actual screen cap” from the Chinese government! I guess the government figured that Chinese and Japanese were practically the same language, so why not just publish it in Japanese? The Chinese people looking to get skinny won’t even notice! OR, maybe this website is just full of shit. That must be it. (So, by the way, is the Japanese flowchart. I guess it’s supposed to look authoritative and intimidating since its written with those weird squiggles, but it’s an oversimplification of the metabolic process worthy of the site on which it is featured.)

These type of ads are damaging to all women. To Asian women and women of Asian descent in particular, since they are exploitative and Otherizing and reinforce stereotypes. And yet again we have the tired “conform to this body type” rhetoric directed specifically at women (never are Chinese men mentioned, and all the images on the site are of women looking flawless and skinny). Finally, we have a product that is not all that likely to help you lose weight – what they are selling is the insubstantial “Orientalness” of the tea. I’m sure many of you Feminocracy readers have come across similar ads. What do you think?

Aside: I wonder if there are Occidentalist ads on Chinese websites? How about this:




  1. Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. A+.
    We all know the Orient is a magical land where everyone is exactly the same, duh.

  3. of course all women are dissatisfied with our bodies and want to be tiny little bodies waiting to be sexualized. The worst part about these type of ads as that someone will inevitably purchase these products wasting the view disposable dollars that they have.

  4. great post!

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