So am I the only one who is having trouble figuring out how a nation of 1.3 billion people can't find a little girl who can be adorable and sing well at the same time? I mean why China had to lip-synch "Ode to the Motherland" at the opening ceremony, using cute as a button 9-year-old Lin Miaoke as a front for the voice of still pretty cute Yang Peiyi is truly befuddling.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about it all is that this decision went all the way to the Standing Committee of the Politburo -- China's inner inner circle.
This is how Chen Qigang, the event's general manager justified the decision: "This is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture. Especially the entrance of our national flag; this is an extremely important, extremely serious matter."
You have to hand it to Chen for coming out with this news. Perhaps he opposed the lip-synching stunt. Also, he's protected somewhat from China's wrath. While he was born in China, he's a French citizen.
It brings home a point about China these days. Good looks are not only valued; they are a key to getting ahead in life, especially for women. Just read the want ads in any Chinese newspaper. Ads for secretaries routinely demand good looks and often good figures, down to exact measurements. For a while in the late 1990s, authorities in Hunan province used to examine the breasts of candidates for civil service jobs. Shuang ru dui cheng -- in other words "symmetrical breasts" -- was a condition of employment. Ads for male-dominated jobs routinely have height and weight requirements as well. Legislation to stop discrimination against the handicapped or the asymmetrical? Not happening.
China's obsession with looks has been probed by Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, who has studied the relationship between beauty and pay -- something the Guardian noted in their piece on the two girls today.
Hamermesh, according to the Economist, first studied this phenomenon in the United States and Canada and showed that ugly people earn less than average incomes, while beautiful people earn more. In North America, the ugliness "tax" for men was -9% while the beauty bonus was +5%. For women, the ugliness tax was -6% while the beauty premium was +4%.But in China? Hamermesh found that that ugliness is penalised more in women, but beauty is more rewarded. The figures for men in one city, Shanghai, were -25% and +3%; for women they are -31% and +10%.
How do you say Milli Vanilli in Chinese?