Since China’s opening in 1978, it has lured investment from foreign companies that hope to find bountiful opportunities by appealing to China’s 1.3 billion consumers. Companies of all types have entered, yet few have found success. One industry that has highly benefited from China’s opening up policy is the beauty industry. With increasing disposable income among female Chinese consumers and a greater demand for beauty products, the beauty industry in China has welcomed many foreign firms with open arms.
The mass entrance of foreign beauty companies has a huge significance as pertaining to Chinese culture and society. With foreign beauty companies came foreign beauty advertising, portraying Western models, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, flaunting Western goods and values, with little attention paid to Chinese traditions and ideas on ‘beauty’. Foreign beauty advertising has drastically changed the concept of beauty from a preference towards traditional Chinese beauty to a preference of ‘foreign beauty’. Foreign advertising sends the message that natural Chinese features are inferior to Western ideas of beauty. Some believe that mass foreign advertising has created a psychological inferiority complex in the younger female Chinese population. Rather than accepting themselves as Chinese and embracing their natural beauty, young women are seeking medical treatments and beauty enhancements to make themselves appear more foreign, requiring them to be slim, tall, white skinned, have rounder eyes, a high, narrow nose and wider lips. This behavior is unhealthy and may have lasting effects on Chinese culture and society.