Model Competition

I rarely watch Chinese TV (because it’s dumb and boring), but I watched it last night. I was rewarded for my bravery.

Last night I happened to catch part of CCTV 2’s Televised Model Competition (模特电视大赛). Like I said, I rarely watch Chinese TV, but if I do happen to go for a flip through the channels, if there’s anything that’s going to catch my attention, it’s a whole bunch of hot women. So this competition did the trick. I’m not sure, because I tuned in late, but apparently it has all kinds of different rounds, including formal fashion catwalks, swimsuit modeling (damn, I missed that one!), and answering various “deep” questions. Most of the model hopefuls were 18-21 years old, and close to 180cm tall (around 5’10”).

Several elements of the competition caught my attention. First, I’ll talk about the models’ hotness, since it is of primary importance. Some of them really weren’t very special. Quite a few had the “anorexic model look” that seems to fly in the New York and Paris fashion industries. Many of them had very pretty faces but stick-like bodies. I don’t really go for that type. Perhaps a few models had already been eliminated in previous rounds before I tuned in, but the one that caught my attention was #46: Jiang E (姜娥). (If you look at the picture of her on the page linked to, you might not think she’s very pretty. I don’t think it’s a very good picture, but that girl has got a body, trust me! The other girls couldn’t compare.) The show said she was from Harbin, but her online info says she’s from Dalian. [Now Derrick, don’t get too smug. I never said Dalian girls weren’t pretty.] I did notice that girls from the Shanghai/Zhejiang area were seriously underrepresented, and many of the girls I’ve seen in Shanghai could easily compete with the contestants I saw on TV.

One thing that was cool was just that day in Chinese class we had been talking about the “triumph of the superior over the inferior” (优胜劣败), “Darwin’s theories of natural selection and evolution” (达尔文的自然淘汰理论,进化理论), “the law of the jungle” (丛林法则 or 弱肉强食). So when taotai (淘汰), a word meaning “selection” in the “elimination” sense — which I might not ordinarily get right away — came up in the competition, I was all over that baby.

It was interesting hearing the girls answer various questions. One of the contestants was allowed to ask one of the judges, a famous model, any question she liked. She asked what she should do to improve her chances of succeeding as a professional model. The professional model’s answer was that she should improve her Mandarin and her English! I was shocked. I don’t know if it was just B.S. or if the model really believed it, but she said that language was extremely important in the industry for communicating with designers, photographers, etc.

Another contestant was asked how she would relax if she worked hard for an entire year and then finally got any vacation of her choice. She said the first thing she would do was go to the hospital for a checkup. When the host asked for clarification, she said she’d get her eyes checked, because vision is very important. Ah, the wisdom of models.

Another thing that startled me once it hit me was that the Chinese model judge pictured below, Jiang Peilin (姜培琳), from certain angles really looked like that girl Katie Holmes that got famous on Dawson’s Creek. It was weird. I noticed in Jiang Peilin’s pictures online she doesn’t look like Katie as much; she tries to hide her dimples and her smile.


After the competition finished, I flipped through the channels a bit. A scene of a cute little black girl speaking fluent Mandarin flashed out at me. I flipped back. To my disappointment, she was dubbed. To my utter horror, it turned out to be the Teletubbies dubbed in Chinese. Disgusting.

Then I stopped on a drama. I was tuning in late, so I had to guess at what I missed, but the plot seemed to center around a woman who had contracted AIDS. She got it from her boyfriend, who apparently committed suicide (because he cheated on his girlfriend and unwittingly gave her AIDS, maybe?). The characters who knew the girl had AIDS were treating her with nothing but compassion. (The Chinese propaganda machine is going strong on this AIDS thing now that it has finally gotten its act together on the issue.) I had to stop watching after about 10 minutes, though, because another female character who was supposed to be cute was unbearably annoying.

And off went the TV.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Hey, man you seem to critize chinese girls so much…but well…you did give good information about Shanghai girls though!! Many said Shanghai, Beijing girls and those from up north are very pretty compared with those in other places of China, but according to your information, maybe not!! Cheers

  2. I glad you mentioned the thiness of the models. I suppose there trying to compete with NYC and Paris, but its annoying for woman who want to eat 3X a day, you know? Thanks for mentioning that your not* attracted to that look. TV there, sounds like a nightmare. I’d rather read a book.

  3. Da Xiangchang Says: December 11, 2003 at 5:21 am

    Now, I’m as perverted as the next guy (maybe more), but model competitions/beauty pageants are something I’ve never had any inclination to watch. The very idea is so stupid: parade in front of a bunch of people, then answer silly questions so as to pretend it ain’t ALL about showcasing meat. They’re so damn patronizing. If I were a hot broad, I would never join such competitions.

    I guess I have problems with pageants because they’re like strip joints and magazines with girls in bikinis–like what are they trying to accomplish for a guy? If it’s to get a guy horny, all three fail miserably–the first because they’re clothed; the second because there are a ton of OTHER guys around; and the third because they’re still covered up. And as intellectual stimulants, they’re sorely lacking. So, if it can’t get me horny or edified, what’s the point of it? Pornos and Henry Kissinger’s “Diplomacy” work much better.

  4. Models in China aren’t that hot. The main reason is that height is more important than looks. I went to a car show and the models were decidedly homely, but all about 6′ 3 in there 4 inch heels. Since chinese on average are rather short, most of the hot girls are probably not tall enough to be models.

    Guys don’t like rail thin girls. Women put that pressure on themselves.

  5. i was at the gym last nite and was watching the same thing while on the elliptical machine. the sad thing was that the woman next to me kept talking about how fat some of the girls looked. wha wha what!?! it was cool to talk with her cause it was like a chinese lesson and work out all in one, but i was seriously doubting this woman’s sanity and her defnition of fat. by the way, the swimsuit competition was nothing to get excited about. most were of the one piece or sports bra/granny cut bottom variety. plus since the girls were so damn thin they couldn’t fill them out (on some the swim suits were actually baggy!!!). but like you said, it was better than the rest of the crap that chinese call tv. see you saturday.

  6. Greg Pasden Says: December 11, 2003 at 10:32 am

    Hey John,

    I like this segment! You can write about hot chicks anytime. Especially the Chinese beauties. When I get back to China, you and I will have to go out and do our own survey and interviews :).

  7. Heather,

    When speaking Chinese people use the word “fat” much differently than in English. There could be a chapter on it but in general it doesn’t always mean the actual substance associated with pigs or that white stuff on the end of the butchers table. Often people use it to describe bones, tits, muscle or proportion. It is also used much more lightly than in English. And it is used in much more a positive manner.


    Stick to Taiwanese game shows.

  8. What if Jiang E, was actually a former he ? LOL! In China today, you never know. 🙂

  9. Da Xiangchang Says: December 11, 2003 at 3:41 pm

    I have nothing against transsexuals, but I don’t care how hot she might be NOW, if she wasn’t born with XX chromosomes, I ain’t dating her! Speaking of which, I’m curious how good transsexuals look. I heard Thailand has a lot of hot ones, and of course, Thai renyaos are famous in China. Personally, I’m all for human rights for transsexuals and homosexuals. Massachusetts just passed a law that allows gay marriage, and I’m real happy about that. I wish more guys were gay. The more gay guys, the more likely women would like me. 🙂

  10. Tim,
    Yeah, after being in HZ for a year I have a firm grasp on the Chinese usage of the word fat. I have been called it many times and have (after much therapy) learned to take it with a grain of salt (and a shot of tequila). 🙂 I don’t care what you are talking about-tits, bone or muscle…when referring to woman who is 6 feet tall and weighs A Buck 10 the word fat is way off base-the woman doesn’t weigh enough to have tits or muscle (and probably had ribs removed to boot!). The part I left out was that the woman at the gym went on to say that the girl (who was wearing a swimsuit) had a big butt. I get your meaning, but I still thought it was ridiculous.
    Saw a Taiwanese game show once where the challenge was to slurp down 30 raw eggs. Classic stuff and far more entertaining than beauty pageants. 🙂

  11. “I have nothing against transsexuals, but I don’t care how hot she might be NOW, if she wasn’t born with XX chromosomes.”

    My attitude has always been that if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and has the fully functional sexual organs of a duck…it’s a duck.

  12. If the chinese guys don’t like some curves, it just leaves some more nice booties for us…

  13. Uh, do you know of any websites that offer a more revealing pictorial of the models? You know I only want to know, so I can become more culturally aware.
    Great post. I thought the models looked great but I drink sea horse, so maybe my view is a little kiltered.

  14. wayne,

    that’s a little more information than I think we all wanted to know about your standards.

  15. Um.. I am in the spirit of sharring to day andhere is what I have noticed about theChinese people of late:

    After a brief week of stress andmoney saving… I saw many things that allowed me to reflect on China…

    1) As I was Driving my dirtbike with my wife and child fully loaded on it, plus two bags and a stroller, minus front brakes…. I was driving in the prescribed motorcycle lane being a good ant… when low and behold a person was standing bravely in the middle of the hundred of motorcylce per minute lane, pants unzipped letting his manhood out for all to examine as he examined them with glee.

    A lot of different things I thought as I laughed out loud for many moments after.. Good for him… Chinese people dont really have that many strange and bold things happen in their daily lives that often.. especially when speaking in terms of self expression..

    Bad for him.. and how many more? It was my guess he was more than just an eager exhibitionist , and needed a little or a lot of mental help. But good luck finding it around here… especially on the socially provided level as it appeared he was homeless…

    Then I thought a little bit thats not a great hing for him or the children passing by.. I had thought to turn around and try to contact somesort of authorities to help him..

    And then I thought .. what would the result of my actions be? Perhaps his moment of relapse would pass and he would be on his way, as every day that has led him yet so far… Or, rather as a result of my interference, wha tkind of punishment would his man recieve, rather than the help that he needs from a society where mental healthcare, or social healthcarefor that matter cowards in the shadow of the much more advanced walmart/factory/mcdonald infrastructure??

    So I passed away in laughter doing nothing…


    2) less thanfive minutes later as I turned into the luxourious development partoof the city known as “New City”, I passed by a seemingly out of place strong young peasant man and his horse drawn rubbage cart.

    Number one.. the young man was a big guy that appeared out of place in his peasant status..hard to explain.. and just as that the horse he had was not some lame creature with barely meat on its bones… It was a beautiful young blondcolored horse with a healthy maine… and looked like a nice horse..

    Peoplewere passing it just as they had done with the afermentioned exhibitionist….however that made me sick.. the similiarity inwhich the passed with out heedance to the way the young peasant was visciously whipping the horse in the face with a long and not to flimbsy peice of wood, as the horse stood scared out of its mind not moving an inch in shock…

    I had to slow down this time… I had never seen a horse get beet like that… I have been witness to Chinese people passing by … well let me tell you about that and then we will come back to this horse..

    Last spring I was driving my motorcycle to work…. When I happened to pass or rather come to a traffic jam… Not so unusuall, as there was always slow moving morning rushour traffic here… ut in this case it was at a standstill..


    I managed to get closer to see what all the people were rubber neckking at… And saw 3 girls and two boys…. In the distance I saw one of the two boys holdtwo girls who were loud in there protests… To see the people stopping for thisis expected… reminds me of the pigeons in the findingnemo movie,, Chinese peoplefeelno indescri,mination to stop andgawk intrusovly on any ones conversation, and relish the oppourtunities to form crowds at an argument.. Not a fist throwing one, not especially.. Alway a strange thing.. sure in other countries some people will throw secret glances and maybe share some private conversation about it.. but who wants to stand and be part of an argument between husband and wife?

    Apparently 1.4 billion Chinese people,from what I have bourn witness to. Any ant marching out of time draws crowds.

    So that did not surprise me to find the crowds attracted to the young girls protests. Then everything progressed , and as one boy held the two girsl back, the third boy threw a unrestricted mpmma said nock you out right hook and sent the third girl to the ground. Just as Chinese people cankill chickens wothout a single flinch, this man had no inhibition to hit this girl in the faceas he would any other man…

    When she fell, there were no oohs and awsfrom the massive crowd on motorcycles..

    Nor was there any assisitance from the daily commute as he then proceeded to kick her in the face and stomach, ensuring a hospital visit in her not to distant future.

    In my newfound anger… something alien and rebellous to the gathered flock at hand.. I tried to get of my motorcycle to pass through the crowd to do what ever I could to help this girl who was on her way to a quick death with a large audiance.

    Surely these guys could have killed me, (as later was attempted by their fellow citizens in Yang Shuao leaving two knive wounds in my back)… but I was thinking I wouldbe able to put up more of a resistance than the woman on the ground.

    But the crowded stall was so thick.. I had a hard time makking it past/through all the motorcycles being driven by young men, old men,mothers bringing their children to school,bussiness men talking on their phones going to the office, cops headed to their duty, and other such hard working Chinese people.

    By the time I made some head way, abandoning my motorcyle in the middle of the street in my anger… The wolf backed off the rabbit and fled.. and the other two girls helpedthere badly beaten/bloody friend off the ground and the traffic picked right up.

    At that point I retreated in Anger, dismay, sadness, and fustration. What could I do with my terrible Chinese to help that her friends could not do at that point? I donteven know how to say hospital in Chinese. My point of usefullness had expired, and I failed in makking it pass the useless humanity which stood in my way.

    That day was ruined. It gave me a very nostalgic feeling, bringing back memories of the pain I felt while photographing the homeless Childrentwo years before in Denver. After that I sat in a windowless dive and drank some whisky contemplating the pictures and their reasoning I had spent the morning shooting.

    However, that was not China. After the more recent incident there was no Whisky. I still have the pictures, and have taken many more since then. But Rather than a dive bar I was headed to the classroom to be a teacher. Where, I broiught wraths of fury in psychoanalyzing the rationale behind the events I had just witnessed with my highschool class.. All the classes I tought that day were a mirror image of the poeple I passed on the street to get to their class.

    I made one and all feel the guilt of that tragedy, in hopping that I could in some way prevent that from happening again, at least with the pupils I had the opportunity to enrich. Perhaps one of them will do something different in their future than the people I passed that morning.

    Surely none of them were in new city at the same moment I was… As I saw the horse getting a serious beating. I slowed my bike and felt angerrun through me, just as I had the spring before. Yes, it was the exact same feeling. I was surprised that it was the same for an animal as it was for a human.

    IT was some what enriched, as I was already in the mist of contemplaing the plight of the exhibitionist I had just passed.

    My wife, who was holding my son must of sensed it.. as she was doing her best to coach me away from interferring. Telling me that the people would think I was crazy if I stopped. Thats how everyone is in the countryside in China with their animals. She said if I stopped I would be i trouble since it was not my horse.

    She said that they stab horses and cows even when they are bad.

    Bad I thought… As I seen the man break out into another session of serious face lashings to thisbeautiful horse. Not just a couple of furious out of control swings…

    The contrast of that still sits in my head…When I had first found my new workplaces office, I was surprised by its enviroment.. Sidewalk cafes,modern apartments…it couldeasily have been Eurpoe or America… I was surprised how much so…

    But, as I looked around at the poeples faces in the area.. noonecared the slightest bit about what this man was doinginfront of the Chineseversion of Starbucks to his horse. Just as beforewith the woman..

    For days I felt guilty… I drove buy to the office to get my money.

    I know if I hadbeen without my wife and baby I would have stopped, and interfered. I would not have been able to stop myself. For that matter I maynot be alive to type this, or sitting in China any longer.Who knows what the outcome would have been.

    I can tell you for days I felt pretty guilty for not helping, and I felt very hyprocritical. I failed.

    3) I have been showing the movie Solaris to my senior students this week. IT seems that Chinese people lack art? I dont know. Solaris is a slow movie granted… but Shallowmindedcomes to mindwhen I think of the students reactions thus far. Also immature? at17 you would hink this pg13 moviewasa porno from their reactions. Very immature.

    4) The immaturity I guess is breeded from their lack of free expression? You would be surprised at the racist stereotyping I recieve from Chinese people. I will not get into the theme of that here…

    yest they all were uniforms to school. Yes they all love michael Jackson and whatever other pop band that must be cool since it is on a coke can.

    But its a bit like the twilightzone howabsent these students are from any kind of individual style… or trend for that matter…

    Just asthe bussinessman dresses in a suit every day, so does the guy selling barbeque at night. An extension of their uniform fillled schoolastic upbringing.

    Anything different will be bad. Stop and look at the bad things. Dont be individual enough to understandthem, think about them, or help/change them.

    TV has to be Cheesy. You can not be different. A tatoo… oh no.. absent is the small majority that would think itmight be a cook thing.

    The thought police enforced by the masses that take partin the daily commutewill seeto that.

    They will stop and see everything.

    1.4billion of them………

    And that is what I have seen lately.

  16. Great post. had it all: women, entertainment, and ‘startling/disturbing’ revelations (in Wayne’s comments esp.) 😀

    btw, How big a fan of Dawson’s Creek are you? … inquiring minds want to know!

  17. Yeah I heard Shanghai Ladies are supposed to be the most leng. From experience, I can’t see the difference – all Chinese women are gorgeous to me.

    I saw the run up to the Miss China competition, where the winner would then go onto Miss World. Out of the applicants I only saw 5 or 6 which I thought were really leng and could give Miss World a shot. Maybe us Westerner’s look for different qualities in real beauty (i.e. big boobs haha)…

  18. Dalian, Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin, it doesn’t matter! They all have pretty girls!

    Why do you think I’m going to Harbin this spring festival? hehe

    I agree with DaXiangChang, I never watched beauty pageants…so boring and utterly useless..

  19. Why do you think I’m going to Harbin this spring festival? hehe

    I agree with DaXiangChang, I never watched beauty pageants…so boring and utterly useless..

  20. John,

    You’re right – Jiang E got the ‘Best Shape’ prize finally.

    And I think the new ‘Green & Red Lights’ rule was really a bit exciting.


  21. Hi Robert:
    That was a long post. Maybe you are in a wrong country.

  22. Pketh,

    Not a fan of Dawson’s Creek at all. In fact, I’ve never seen it. I just happen to know that that particular cutie came from that show.

  23. katie holmes is an unparalleled delicious morsel of sultry cuteness. she looks nothing like 姜培琳.

  24. No, she does, I swear!

  25. right country?

  26. Talking of Taiwanese shows there is that show from Taiwan which is like a local version of the American reality TV show, Cheaters, where these two dudes drive round with a jilted citzen following a cheating lover. My mandarin is non existant but they often have some hot girlfriends on there so it still manages to keep my attention when they show it on cable TV in Hong Kong.

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