Single women in China are being called ‘leftovers’, SK-II helps them fight back

Responding to one of the country’s most controversial topics.

Sheng nu translates to ‘leftover women,’ a derogatory term used in China to describe single women over the age of 25.

In China, the decision to not to marry, because one wants to wait for love or pursue their career or education, is widely looked down upon.

And now international skincare label SK-II is trying to make a change.

As part of the #ChangeDestiny campaign, which launched last year to inspire and empower women from around the world, SK-II has released a short film titled Marriage Market.

The film documents the marriage pressures many young Chinese women face, as well as exploring China’s marriage markets.

Marriage markets are commonplace in China. Parents go to advertise and match their children to potential spouses, often without the knowledge of their children.

Marriage Market shares the stories from a group of ‘leftover women’ who want the community to respect their choice to marry in their own time.

Sheng nu are currently subject to harsh criticism, not only from the public, but from their own families. In the film, one mother explains that her daughter is ‘leftover’ because “she’s just average-looking. Not too pretty.”

SK-II is a strong advocate for inner beauty and is working to change the perception that sheng nu are undesirable. In doing so, SK-II has created an installation in Shanghai’s People’s Park, in conjunction with the film. The installation displays pictures of ‘leftover’ women with captions about their independence. The platform is allowing women to share their feelings about being single. “Even if I am alone, I will be happy, confident and have a good life,” says one young woman.

Alongside bravely sharing their stories, the women in Marriage Market are asking for support. By educating yourself and others, you can help recreate respect between generations and increase society’s understanding of a woman’s right to choose her own path.

Watch the film below.


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