Promotional models or “booth babes” are a controversial part of convention culture. Many see them as a gimmick at best, and at worst dehumanizing women by turning them into part of the product being sold. In China, the government considers them so “vulgar” that recently laws have been passed banning “booth babes” at events.

The first victim of the new law is the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show. Instead of dozens of beautiful women adorning cars, now there are none. But that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared; instead the now-unemployed models are taking to the Shanghai streets, protesting for their right to be sexy and get paid for it.

So just to recap, here’s what car shows in China looked like before:

▼ Am I supposed to be seeing a car here? Because I don’t see any car.


▼ Guys. Guys! The car is over there!


▼ Okay, now I can kind of see why they changed things.


And here’s what the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show looks like now:

▼ Oh, this was a car show? I had no idea….

Still, getting rid of the models means a lot of women out of work, and they’re not going quietly either. They’ve taken to the Shanghai streets, dressed up as unemployed beggars, protesting for their right to help sell cars by draping themselves over them. Here’s some photos of them doing their best to look poverty-stricken while wearing high-heels:

▼ Complete with traditional bowls to beg for rice.


▼ Somebody help them! They’re so thin and malnourished.


▼ Up close you can really see the dirt stains from years minutes in the streets bathroom.


▼ They are pretty good a posing for photos though.


▼ “The world’s a big place, shouldn’t we be allowed to survive?”


Before you get too worried, the Shanghai Motor Show still apparently has plenty of beautiful women working there, just under slightly different job titles. Instead of models they’re “sales representatives,” “guides,” “attendants,” or any other of a multitude of just-different-enough names.

This has led netizens to believe the ones who are protesting are simply the “booth babes” who distract from the cars and don’t provide anything besides eye candy. Here are some comments they’ve made:

“All industries change eventually, modeling included. They should make sure they have other skills to fall back on.”
“Really? Cardboard signs and painted-on dirt? That’s pretty stupid.”
“They’re still gorgeous. Can’t they just get work somewhere else?”

While their protest does seem more like a parody than reality, the fact that they’re actually out there doing this means that they most likely really are having a tough time. If the begging thing doesn’t work out, hopefully the next convention that comes around will be kind enough to hire them as “sales representatives.”

Source: Yahoo! News Japan via Toychan Net, Shanghaiist
Images: Toychan Net, Guancha