On Nov. 11, a netizen posted an image of an apparel size chart seen at a Taiwanese chain store in China, saying, “I was shocked when I saw this size chart at a RT-Mart today. Am I completely rotten?” That image and post went viral and it enraged the online community, causing the company’s China Division to issue a public apology the following day.
The offending women’s apparel size chart posted on Weibo (comparable to Twitter) racked up more than four million views! The sign listed recommendations for five weight ranges: S, M, L, XL and XXL It indicated it was intended “only for girls aged 18-35” and, “depending on your size, please consult customer service first.” Not bad so far, if it had stopped there.
However, the “offense” was the descriptive label that followed the sizes. For Small, the description was “瘦, slim.” Medium garnered a “美, pretty.” Large was “烂, rotten;” XLarge was ”稀 烂, completely rotten,/smashed” and XXLarge was “稀巴烂, smashed to smithereens” – as one podcaster translated – it was how one would describe a raw egg dropping to the ground!” An alternate translation from The China Post for sizes Large, XLarge and XXLarge was “lame, extra lame and lame to the core!”
Netizens’ outcry was swift, criticizing the poor wording for shaming body shape and causing age-related issues for women.
On Nov. 12, the company released an official statement on Weibo apologizing for its “inappropriate wording, which had caused public discomfort.” It also stated the company investigated the incident and that the only store that used the sign had since removed it. The company also vowed to “strengthen its internal management” to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Despite its apology, the online community has continued to leave comments on Weibo, some threatening to boycott the store.
This incident took place just as the government started an anti-food waste campaign to encourage people to eat less. China Women's News, which is operated by the Communist Party-affiliated All China Women's Federation, said on its official Weibo account that the chart was "detestable." About a month earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking on women’s issues at a United Nations conference, said that world leaders should reiterate efforts “to promote gender equality and advance the global cause of women’s development.”
In the past, restaurants in China had adotped fat-shaming behaviors under the pretense of promoting the country’s anti-food waste campaign, going as far as making customers weigh themselves before eating and ordering.
The silver lining to all this is it raised awareness and discussion of fat-shaming and other discriminatory practices.