Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not "Cute" Enough

I've been watching the Olympics as often as possible the past few days. There have been so many things to be excited about, both as an American, and as a feminist. But last night when I heard that the little girl who "sang" at the opening ceremonies last Friday was not the same girl whose voice was heard over the speakers, I was confused.

Turns out that Lin Miaoke, aged 9, actually stood in front of the massive audience and sang while the voice of Yang Peiyi, aged 7, "who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called 'Hymn to the Motherland'" was being broadcast.

The reason behind this? Yang Peiyi was found unsuitable for the role because of her teeth, although her voice was deemed perfect.

Worse than that:
Mr Chen said the initial hopefuls to sing the anthem had been reduced to ten,
and one, a ten-year-old, had originally been chosen for the quality of her
voice. But she, too, had fallen by the wayside because she was not "cute"

So Yang Peiyi got her chance to sing, although she was not allowed to appear in the opening ceremonies.
"The main consideration was the national interest," [the ceremony's musical
designer, Chen Qigang] said. "The child on the screen should be flawless in
image, in her internal feelings, and in her expression. In the matter of her
voice, Yang Peiyi was flawless, in the unanimous opinion of all the members of
the team."

Yeah, Yang Peiyi. You sang with a flawless voice. But even that kind of perfection isn't enough to represent China. I think it's awful that girls as young as 7 are being taught that they just aren't good enough because of a physical imperfection. Nevermind your talents! You don't have the looks to match. And looks, really, are all that matter.


The Great American said...

Did you actually expect anything more from China?

Amelia said...

I always give everyone, every country, the benefit of the doubt. Although this wasn't surprising. But I had to bring attention to it.

The Great American said...

Yeah. It's a shame, I felt really bad for that other little girl when I heard about it...

Lindsay said...

So disappointing. You'd think any kid is cute enough, but apparently not.

lindabeth said...

Wow, Great American, way to be ethnocentric! It's as if we upstanding Americans never put beauty before talent. Aren't the Chinese just acting out the values we've always espoused in Western culture?

The Chonicle Herald said it brilliantly:

If we want to criticize China for its attempts to put its best foot forward in marketing itself to the rest of the world, we need to start taking some responsibility for our own actions, which can be just as heinous.
The reality is that if we are to blame China for being unethical in its efforts to market the Olympic Games, it’s time we take responsibility for our own actions as marketers in this country.

It’s time we created images of men, women, boys and girls that are more realistic and attainable.

It’s time we took responsibility for the fact that girls as young as 10 are beginning to diet.

They want to look like teens in the fashion industry and on television.

They have clearly gotten the message that if you are cute, you have what it takes to be famous.

And that sounds just like what China communicated to its own this past week.

Get off your pedestal.