Social Experiment: The Superficiality of the Chinese Culture

http://youtu.be/NRbtNxf7Cu8

This is part 1 of an ongoing social experiment that I have been conducting since coming to China.  Since my arrival in China I have noticed an ongoing obsession with appearance. It is worse than in The Western World. In the west at least we have a variety of standards that defines beautiful. Here in China not so much. 

  

Their ideal of beauty is so far fetched that not even the average Chinese woman can attain it. So it creates a system of woman going through any means to reach something that in unattainable unless you get plastic surgery. To them beauty is pale white smooth alabaster skin, big doe eyes , slim body( to the extreme) heart shaped face, pointy chin and long straight dark hair. I don’t know many women that look like that that aren’t anime characters.   

They also view Westerners as beautiful but you have to have white skin. Anything that is white is beautiful to them. They even consider white dogs to be cuter than brown and black dogs! So if you are white and slim you are a god or goddess.  It is their culture and it will not change. It is probably the hardest thing to have to face in an Asian country. I have to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful and not a fat ugly monster.

  

  

It isn’t as bad as when I first came to China. With my Afro textured hair, chocolate complexion and full body, I was the antithesis of their ideal of beauty.  The Chinese didn’t know what to make of me. So I was not treated kindly. I was made fun of and laughed at. This really lowered my already low self esteem. So on the outside I was smiling on the inside I was dying.

Then I begin losing weight and I noticed how people changed. People smiled at me more. They approached me more. Then I began changing my hairstyles. When I wore a wig my coworkers told me I was so pretty and all I needed to do was to lose weight because a boy only looks at a good figure. (Cue eye rolls) 

  

After I hated the falseness of wigs I went back to natural hair. I notice that again my collegues distanced themselves. I had one student that was repelled by my natural hair. Oh and I got parents that complained about my hair. I also had a parent say I was too fat to teach her child. I have students call me fat Laoshi. 

  

I decided to get braids. Well this style was different than the Chinese norms. The kids were fascinated by my hair as were my Chinese friends. They thought it was amazing. This is when I had strangers touch my hair.  They thought my hair was cool and fashionable. It was eccentric. I was also losing a lot of weight at the same. So the Chinese people were very nice to me during this phase. 

  

I got another braided style that was curly and I had black and red braids. I loved it. The Chinese didn’t. This is when I was called Hei Gui on many occasions. One of my more verbal students said my hair was ugly. My coworkers just kept glaring at my hair. One had the gall to ask me if I actually like my hair that way.  That  hair was way too much from their  beauty zone. On a side note, Western men loved the big hair and I got some interest from them. So big sexy hair is a turn on for western men. 

  

Next I got a Brazilian Blowout and I will say this. Big humongous difference to how I am treated. This hair looks more like their hair. So I am more accepted. Not viewed as an oddity anymore. I have noticed more Chinese men checking me out. Also my OKCupid ad is getting way more responses by men of all cultures. Once I put up the straight hair pictures my stock level went up. I think the straight hair enhances my features more. I have two OKCupids profiles. One is an older one where I am heavier and with my natural tightly curled hair.  The other is more recent and I am smaller. My old one only gets an occasional response by African men. 

  

My experiment is not fully complete. I have to see how I am treated here once I hit goal weight . My budding  self esteem might have something to do with how I am getting treated as well. When I first came to China, I never took pictures. I hated looking in the mirror so that attitude may have influenced how others saw me. Now I am selfie goddess and like the me looking back at me in the mirror. That attitude maybe attracting people was well.  So this may actually skew the effects of my experiment. 

Even though China is a superficial society it did give me a swift kick up the arse and was the fuel that I needed to make a well needed change in myself.

http://youtu.be/WiMihRqjbcE

Please click on my YouTube videos, they pertain to the post. 

My Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment 

***PLEASE NOTE, I CAN NO LONGER WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT STUDIO EBONY DUE TO PERSONAL REASONS. MY STYLIST INDIA IS WORKING INDEPENDENTLY AND CAN BE REACHED USING WEIXIN. YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOMED TO FORM YOUR OWN OPINION AND GO TO STUDIO EBONY. I AM IN NO WAY SLAMMING HER BUSINESS. THIS POST IS HIGHLIGHTING INDIA’S WORK. THANK YOU****
The hardest part about living in China as a black woman or a woman with curly hair is what do we do with our hair. Many of the Chinese salons have no clue what to do with Afro textured hair or curly hair. Caucasian friend’s also complain that they can’t get a decent hair color or cut at many Chinese salons. So expats are at a huge disadvantage.  Many of the smaller cities like Hangzhou and Nanchang don’t have expat salons. So where is a Laowai to go???  To the Mecca Shanghai if you live in south China. Other big cities like Beijing, Hong Kong , Shenzhen and Guangzhou also have expats salons.  So my advice if you are a foreigner looking to move to China move in at lease 1-2 hours fast train ride away from a mega Chinese city.

When I lived in Nanchang, I was about 3-4 hours away from Shanghai. So I did my best and tried to care for my hair the best that I could. I am a natural meaning that I do not put chemicals in my hair. I have been a natural for 5 years. It has been a challenge. It especially is a challenge in China. Due to the water and lack of quality products my hair wasn’t looking too pretty.  Also many people mistaked me for a man. So, I wigged it but I never really felt authentic. I was always paranoid that someone would snatch my wig off my hair. Finally I just got braids. I think braids suit me but I noticed some hair loss also I felt fake too. My friend Yllen and Lele already received the keratin treatments and raved about it.

I missed having straight hair. I haven’t had staight hair for 6-7 years. I mostly wore braids in my hair for 2 years prior to embracing my natural Afro textured hair. My hair hates relaxers. My hair would always break off and would look dry and brittle. It never grew past chin length.

Honestly some naturals have beautiful curl patterns and have moisturized locks. That isn’t true for me. My hair was dry and frizzy.  I tried all the methods too. To no avail. The amount of time and the type of products were not available in China or were but very expensive. So after I saw the wonderful results of Lele, I decided that I had to get it done.

I made the trek from Hangzhou Dong to Shanghai Hongqiao station. It was about a 45 minute trip. Then I I took the 10 line to South Shaanxi exit. I had to follow the signs for 1 line go outside and then enter the 1 station to find exit 4. I know very confusing!! Shout out to my girl Yllen that stayed on the phone with my lost arse even though she was busy at work. I have zero sense of direction. I need a Gps chip to be installed in my brain!!

So I finally found Studio Ebony, it is in an apartment complex. If you want to go there email me and I will have Yllen give you directions. I was 15 minute late for my appointment.  I met India , who is also an American expat like me. In fact she is a fellow New Yorker. A Brooklyn girl! It was so nice to hear her slight New York accent. I don’t meet many New York expats.

India in an awesome stylist. She is very knowledgeable in her trade and extremely professional. In fact during every phase of The Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) she explained each part of the process. This was a first with me. Even in the USA, I never had a stylist do that. India has about 20 years experience. She worked in a salon in Manhattan.

 

Phase One

India examined my hair and damage level. I have not really have taken care of my hair since coming to China.  I kinda ignored Bathsheba( my hair) and hid her.  Due to the thickness of my hair I had to pay more because it would take more time and product. This I am use to that , I take after The McDowells we have thick heads of hair!

India washed my hair with sulfate free shampoo. Then she blew it out with a hairdryer and a brush. I am amazed when I see stylist do that. It was longer than I thought!

 I

Phase Two

Then she put the keratin in my hair. Keratin is an amino acid and is not a chemical like a relaxer. So it is an all natural  protein. I sat with the keratin in my hair for a bit. She  rinsed my hair and blew it out.  I noticed that my hair texture was looser but Afro textured India explained that high heat is required to seal in the keratin and make the hair straight. Omg I was so overwhelmed when I saw how long and straight my hair was! I had to hold  back the tears. I kept repeating “Is this my hair? Is this my hair?” The length and the straightness was never acheived like that with a relaxer. I felt my scalp!!!! I was able to run my fingers through my hair. to a black girl this is such any amazing experience. Oh and the length. I have never seen it.

India explained that due to hair damage and split ends she would have to cut. She told me that she was planning to do an elongated bob. She only took and inch and a half off.  I was so scared my hair would be very short. I had so much shrinkage that I had no clue to my hair’s true length.

Phase Three

 

After the cut India applied another part of the Keratin treatment that would add shine and strengthen my hair. It smelled really good. India told the keratin product  line  she used was called Sweet Hair. I sat with the product on my hair then it was rinsed. My curl pattern was even looser it was maybe a 3b/c.  That front was even straighter. It was so easy and quick for her to blowout my hair. Then she did the final flatiron. Wow the shine and it felt so soft. I could barely recognize myself. It was the first time since coming to China that I felt beautiful. the Chinese men that saw me reaffirmed that. I got hey baby looks and not what is that looks. The best the was the wind blew my hair and it went back into place.  At home I was in front of the mirror and did the “white girl” hair flip and singing “I Feel Pretty” from Westside Story.

  

  

Upkeep

Everytime I wash my hair I have to use sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. I also have to blowout on high heat and use a flatiron. Since Oreo ate the cord to the flatiron that I bought from the U.S. I bought one from Studio Ebony it is from Japan and it was the same one India used on me. For naturals using high heat was a big no no but with the keratin process it is essential to unlock the straightening agent. Also with a keratin the more you get it the straighter it becomes. So I am a convert and love my hair,

  

If you are in the vicinity of Shanghai I strongly recommend coming Studio Ebony. So if you live in Zheijiang, Jiansu , Jiangxi, or Anhui province it is well worth the trip on the fast train. Ask for India she is the best. She specializes in all hair types.

http://www.studio-ebony.com

Here is India’s weixin

Xiamen Stories:The Family

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I have been in Xiamen for about three days and it is paradise. Xiamen is one of the cleanest cities in China. It is so lovely with palm trees and hot tropics. it reminds me of the Taiwan that I see in all those Chinese dramas that I watch online. The people here are friendly and the men here are really good looking. That is another post though.

This post is just to introduce the family that I am living with for this month.  The family name is Lin. It  consists of a dad that is  an architect. He is  also a kind  and  loving husband  and dad. A mom who is  quite beautiful and kind. She listens  to French music and likes wine. She loves being a mother and  she is very good  at it. I enjoy watching her roll on the  floor and playing with her children.  Then there is the grandma and  she is so lovely. She has this air of  poise and  grace.. She  helps care  for the children. I like her alot  too. Then there  is the housekeeper. She doesn’t live there  but stays there  all day and then goes  home. She  is  a good cook and  also takes care  of the  baby. She  has a warm and friendly smile.

The Baby

The Baby

Oh and  baby Lala. OMG so cute and  clever. I so want a baby!! The baby has bells that she  wears on her ankles, so you can hear  her  coming. I like that idea and  she  is always  coming. She  is one  years old.  I gave  her Uni(sorry Lesly) and now  she  is my best friend. I taught her how to say hi and  hello in English. She  already knew bye bye. Now when  she  walks into the  room she  says hello.  I wasn’t  kidding when I said clever!

Last, but not least is Nono; the  10 year  old that I am tutoring. She  is quite outspoken at times. She  is sweet, funny, creative  and clever. I really love  her  personality. She  has  me  laughing all the time.  She loves to pulverize  me in chess. I never  could understand that  game. She  also is  such a doting big sister. I have  already  bonded  with  her. Vivacious  is  the  adjective  that describes  her  best. She  told her  dad that  he  has  to  stop  smoking because the teacher  does not like it!

Nono, the girl I am tutoring

Nono, the girl I am tutoring

I feel  God  has been with me  on his  whole journey  during the  summer. I am learning about myself. In Anhui I rediscovered my heart. In Xiamen I am rediscovering a sense  of  family. I have  not had that sense of  family for over 10 years. After my mom died,  my family became  distant. I truly missed having a family. Their  love and  bond is  so amazing.  I have become very distant in those 10 years. This is  showing me  what love is. The lord is  showing me this maybe  as a means of preparation. Everyday, I am opening up more and  more. Oh and today the  baby only wanted to hold my hand  and not her  daddy’s. That was  too cute.

Loving sisters

Loving sisters

Anhui Adventures: Never Can Say Goodbye

My students

My students wrote this  for me

I am so sad  today. The last  day of  instruction was yesterday. I am feeling a great  sense of loss. I have  made a connection with these students in such a  short time. I am sadden that it is  all about to end. time flew  by  so  quick.

I will always  cherish my time  in Anhui and  hope that  i may be  able  to return to this  friendly province. To me  it  feels like  home. The  students have  all connected  with me.  I feel like I am part of a cohesive family. I do not want to lose this feeling. I feel  blessed that I was allowed the  opportunity  to work  with such an amazing staff and the  best bunch of  students that I have ever encountered.

My  memory book

My memory book

Will is  comforting Anna

Will is comforting Anna

I made the  last day pretty mellow and  relaxed. I was sad and  wanted  to have a relaxing moment with my students. We played  dodgeball, watched  movies  and made memory books. the students had to write  down their fondest memory of  summer camp.

This  was  very emotional  for the  children because  just as  i have  fallen in love  with then, they have  fallen in love  with me. It was cray me a river there was not a dry eye  in the classroom. Even Matt was teary eyed. John lasted the longest and  Jonathan  decided  he  could not  deal with us  and  went off to  his dad.

As I held unto my students trying to  console them, I really knew that I would  love the  opportunity to be  able to teach in Jixi, not sure if  it is a possibility but it is  something that I will pray on. If God wants me  here then there  will be  a way. All I know is that it does not  feel right that I am leaving Jixi.

The students were

The students were weeping

I soon broke  down in tears  and  my students  began to  comfort me. It was  quite  an emotional scene.  No one  wanted  it  to end. The camp faced  many hardships but we persevered. Together  we  are stronger. I really  do want to keep in touch with everyone. My heart is aching right now  as  I write this. I know that I have  a new adventure waiting in Xiamen but Xuancheng is  where my heart is.

Zoe is in tears

Zoe is in tears

Anhui Adventures: Teaching Sports

The rules of Football according  to Amber

The rules of Football according to Amber

Anyone that knows  me  will already be chuckling at the  title. If  you  don’t  know  me, I will just say this, I am a disaster are when it  comes  to playing sports. I am a klutz and  i am uncoordinated. I was the  kid  who would  sneak to the  back of the line  so I would  not have to play wiffleball. I was the kid  who  purposefully forgot  to wear sneakers on gym day. In fact I wore a pretty dress on gym day.

I surrounded myself  with girl girlies, well except Regina and it is  good to have a polar opposite  as  a friend. So Amber  and  sports are not a  mix. I barely watch sports. I know  my  sports teams  and  know that sexy Derek Jeter plays  for the Yankees and that The Giants  are a New York Team. Oh and the Red Soxs sucks. that is  about it.Since  I have  15 boys  in my  class at summer camp, i decided that I wanted to introduce them to American sports. The Chinese  already have  a love  and obsession with basketball, so they already knew about the NBA.

We love the NBA and Kobe Bryant!

We love the NBA and Kobe Bryant!

I decided to  explain to them about American  Football. I know  nothing  about football. So I drew a diagram. I only know that the two teams try to get the  ball to their  goal post and  they get tackled  and there  are  full backs  and  quarterbacks and there is something called the line  of  scrimmage. I was explaining the rules, I then showed them a  video excerpt of  The Ny Giants  playing a game. A few students were  interested. Maybe American football has  a chance  in China.

Then I introduced  Baseball to them. I showed them a  a video clip of  the Yankees playing a game. I explained that baseball was big in  Japan. I of course  did  not have a bat  but I had a  soft ball and  an umbrella. I threw  pitches  and  let  them  hit the  ball. We went outside and  played  a baseball game.

The could  not  quite  understand the concept of  four bases, so we  only had  one  base. The kids  were having a ball! They were  so excited. they  all wrote  about our wonderful baseball game in their  diaries.  they  thanked  me  for teaching them about  baseball. they were  just  so adorable. 

I also taught them dodgeball. I can’t even explain the  rules of  dodgeball, I told them just  don’t hit  above  chest  level. I also  showed them a  video of  a dodgeball game. They  had  a good time but they requested that we  play baseball again. they said they liked  baseball more than dodgeball.

Later that day when I went back to the  dorm a few of my students decided  to teach me  ping pong. I was abysmal at it and  the kids got  quite a chuckle out of  it. 

I

Anhui Adventures: The Hotel

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After the  long long car ride, we were told that our  rooms on campus were  not ready, so we  would be  put into a hotel for  two days. I have  found that my stays  at hotal s in China have  been quite pleasant.  Well escept the my universities hotel room. Ughs.

The hotel staff was  so excited  to see us. There are not a lot of foreigners that  come  to Xuancheng. So seeinga  foreigner  is a big  deal. The staff was  really nice. We had  to check in and  our  passports were  scanned.

We were taken in the elevator. We had  to make  two trips because the elevator  was narrow.  We were  both on the fifth floor. The Vice  head master  of the school opned the  rooms i walked  into the  first room. The  vice principal said  non no no and pointed to Jose  and  Jonathan. He  gestured  for  me to go to the  corner  room.

chairs

chairs

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A bathtub, I never got a chance to use it. I was scared my big butt would get stuck.

To my utter suprise  and delight it  was a suite!!1 This was the  nicest room that I have  ever styaed in. I left like a queen. I have  two two bathrooms. One bathroom had a bathtun! I had a living room with a chaise,  couches and a TV with cable. My bed was a huge king sized. There was also another TV in that room and a  computer  with internet axis.

I was so nears tears. I flopped on my bed and was comforted by a soft western style mattress. It was like I was  sleeping on a cloud. It was  an  end  to a perfect  day.

Sleeping on a cloud

Sleeping on a cloud

Anhui Adventures: Arriving at School

Xuancheng is surrounded  by  beautiful mountains

Xuancheng is surrounded by beautiful mountains

This  is  part  of  a series  about my  month teaching in Anhui province at  a  summer camp. I have  been  here  since July 3rd, however  due  to internet snafus and  being  busy with lesson planning I only  have  the  time  now to  update my readers on my adventures. I have  so much to update, So my lucky readers prepare a series  of post overloads. 🙂

The company that  hired  me  to work  for  the  summer  arranged a flight for me  from Nanchang to Hangzhou. The flight was only about an hour  and my friend  Liu Jia took me  to the  airport  to say farewell.  We arrived  early, I am so  parnoid  about things  happening like the cab breaking down. So we  sat in the  airport people watching for  two hours.

courtesy  of www.disneygo.com

I got a window seat, iy was  so relaxing to watch the happy little clouds. Don’t  clouds  make you  so happy! Bob Ross likes  happy little fuffy  clouds.  I  felt like  I was in his  paintings.  
The  plane  landedand guess  which ditz could  not unfasten the seatbelts? ME!!! I think I have  blonde roots. I was struggling with it. Finally an older Chinese  knight in  shining armor saved the day. He unfastened  my seatbelt with the greatest of  ease. Yeah , I am a ditz. Next i went  to  claim my  luggage, did I mention that I had  to pay an overage fee?. My friend  told  me that I packed too much. Well, I am going  to be  gone  for two months and I am a girl.

I got off the plane and  look for  my contact person. Everyone  has  signs  with  names  on them. My  contact  did  not. I could  not spot  him so I called him. He told  me  what  he was  wearing. We finally  found  each other, He helped me  with the bags. He was shovcked  at how heavy my bag was. He had  no clue that I bought mama and  baby  bag. Big papa bag was at home all alone. He  told  me  to the car  where I met Jose and  his son Jonathan and their adorable puppy Chino. I  just love their  puppy. I wanted to steal him and  give  him hugs and  kisses.  I still want  to steal him to this  day. He is my rent a puppy!!!  I nicknamed him Chi Chi.

Look at the cutie pie!!!!!

Look at the cutie pie!!!!!

We had  a  four hour  car ride. It was  a great way to get to know the TAs. They are  college students  and  get to help  us  in the  class room. The hour  car drive  really  helped  us  all to  bond. I sat in the  front seat. Oen of the only perks about being a fatty is that I always  get to call frontsies! Due to my size I am really just  too big right now to sit anywhere  else in a car when there  are lots of people.

On the  car ride I found  out that I had  a lot in common with Jose. He is  also  from New York. He is a professional teacher like myself. Oh and  he use  to work at the Newark Board  of  Eduation! My former district neighbor. Oh and  he too  moved  to New Jersey  after living in NY. He  is  funny as  hell too. He is now my new BFF in China.  Jason you have been replaced! Hehehehe

We  did not arrive at the school until 10 pm. They had a banquet  meal waiting for us. Everyone  knows that I have been trying to lose weight, well I  did  partake  in the  feast  and it was  so delish. Hands  down it was one  of the best meals in China. The food was not  spicy, like it is in Nanhang. There was  duck tongue, this beef that was surely water buffalo,  a  fish dish and  an assortment of  veggies. I was hungry   so I dove  right in. I did eat small amounts.

After eating we were shown our rooms. We had  to stay in a hotel te  first night. Oh I wasa lucky girl. I will post next about the hotel room.

Duck Tongue

Duck Tongue

Hunk of  Meat, tasted like water buffalo
Hunk of Meat, tasted like water buffalo

A fish in a sweet  sauce. It was the most succulent fish that I ever tasted.
A fish in a sweet sauce. It was the most succulent fish that I ever tasted.

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