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Ikea is the latest company to stigmatize Chinese women for being single |

Ikea is the latest company to stigmatize Chinese women for being single

Though parents in any culture can be known to pressure their children to settle down, this is pretty harsh: In an Ikea ad that was recently taken off the air, a mother threatens to disown her daughter for being single. “If you don’t bring home a boyfriend next time, then don’t call me mum!” she says.

Then a man appears at the door with flowers. Ta-da . . . a boyfriend! The woman’s parents are thrilled — they set the table with Ikea dinnerware and instantly the scene is happy.


Chinese viewers, however, were not so pleased. After a flood of complaints on Weibo, a Chinese website similar to Twitter, Ikea pulled the advertisement. According to the BBC, one Weibo user said: “Even if this sort of situation does happen in a lot of families, it’s not suitable to make advertisements about it, because it’s wrong.”

Another Weibo user said: “This discriminates against singles and single women. No boyfriend, so your own family members look down on you, what kind of values does this transmit?”

In China, women who remain single past age 27 face a lot of stigma, not just from television ads. They’re often referred to as “leftover women.” Last year, a Chinese woman writing in the Telegraph said her aunt told her: “If you are a 30-year-old unmarried woman in China, life’s over. You’ll forever be a spinster.”

This Ikea ad is not the first to ridicule unmarried women. In July, Audi apologized for a commercial that compared single women to used cars after the spot drew complaints.

But there’s one advertisement, from the beauty company SK-II, that has taken a more progressive view about China’s single women. The ad, which was released last year and is embedded below, starts by showing Chinese women as a voice-over makes statements such as “don’t be so free-willed,” “she’s stubborn” and “you’re too picky,” while moving on to show snippets of adult women describing the intense parental and societal pressure to settle down. The video then shows a “marriage market” in a park, where Chinese parents post résumés about their children with the goal of finding them a spouse. It ends by showing a portion of the marriage market where single women post pictures of themselves and leave notes to their parents — about how they want to fall in love and not settle for just any husband.

Perhaps we will see more examples of ads like this one and fewer spots like Audi’s and Ikea’s.

READ MORE:

The Ikea bed frame that almost tore us apart

What do you call someone who’s fiercely independent? A Super Single.

He wanted an ‘exotic’ woman. I agreed to be his date but felt more like a trophy.

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