Nu Qiang Ren and Shen Nu: Power Women and Leftover Woman in China

Just Turn Left

Happy Families: Images reinforcing early age marriage are everywhere in China. This poster was an ad for cooking oil on the subway.

Names have been changed in this article and dialogue has been translated into English.

A recent advert by the cosmetics company SK-II telling the story of China’s ‘sheng nu’ or ‘leftover women’ has created a viral storm. ‘Sheng nu, a phrase from State-run media in 2007, refers to woman in their late twenties who are unable to get married.

Still image from the SK-II advert (link below)

Gender imbalance and a rise in the divorce rate are but two of the reasons for this phenomenon. Since the birth of the phrase there has been an ever increasing stigma for those who are unable to tie the knot, the term ‘leftover’ conjuring images of unwanted table scraps.

In China, the family is the most important thing in anyone’s life…

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