Ads that successfully empower women are few and far between, much less ads that successfully empower single women. But a recent Chinese ad by the luxury skincare brand SK-II is doing just that, intended to encourage young Chinese women over the age of 25 who are unmarried.
In Chinese society, single women have historically been referred to as “sheng nu,” which is a derogatory term translating to “leftover women.” Obviously that’s not okay, so this ad is respectfully highlighting the stigma in the hope of encouraging positive change.
The ad opens with images of young Chinese women at various stages in life, with bold and unsettling statements like, “I won’t die in peace unless you’re married,” “she’s stubborn,” and “she’s picky,” echoing in the background. Chinese women then speak about the pressures their families put on them to get married when they’re clearly not ready. Parents start weighing in about how “match-making was simple” in their youth, and expressing the need to find “suitable matches” for their leftover daughters — not necessarily true love.
The most troubling — yet emotionally powerful — part of the ad is where parents are shown attending a “marriage market,” where they can post resumes resumes of their eligible daughters and sons. The ad ends with an uplifting message though, when the young Chinese women hang pictures of themselves at the marriage market, with personal messages for their parents to stumble upon. Those messages express a genuine love for the independent, single-status lifestyle, including sentiments like, “I’m happy being alone,” and “I want to take time to find the right person.” Of course, women should never be afraid to express their hope and desires, no matter what form they take.
Hopefully the door has been opened for new conversations surrounding the tradition of marriage. Even though change is slow, we know that Chinese women will continue to charge forward with grace and confidence.
Check out the ad right here.