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Follow-up interviews to the dramatic Marriage Market Takeover documentary shed light on the beliefs of China’s “Leftover Women” and their parents’ eroding difficulties in accepting them

Earlier this month, we took a look at a short but stirring documentary about the social attitudes surrounding China’s so-called Sheng Nu. Translating as “Leftover Women,” the term refers to unmarried women over 25, which many see as a distressingly late age to still be single at.

However, those feeling the distress aren’t always the single women themselves. The previous video, produced by Japanese beauty product brand SK-II, ended with a number of Leftover Women posting public messages to their parents in Shanghai’s “Marriage Market” park, asserting their desire to pursue happiness in their own way, regardless of their marital status.

But that emotional event was only part of the story, so SK-II is back again with a series of more in-depth interviews with the women and their parents that shows the daughters’ motivations behind the lifestyle they’ve chosen, and also how their dramatic declaration at the Marriage Market has impacted their parents’ ways of thinking.

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Most people would say that the first woman interviewed, Wang Xiao Qi, has a pretty good life. The 27-year-old drama teacher and children’s theater actress looks happy and confident, but her unwed status is something that her mother says the family “talk[s] about…indirectly, on some occasions.” Xiao Qi herself, though recalls her father rather directly telling her “You should hurry up. Marriage doesn’t wait.”

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For Wang Xiao Qi, who usually tries to keep a stiff upper lip around her parents, the Marriage Market Takeover project was a chance to show them, in no uncertain way, that she doesn’t want to get married to conform to others’ expectations or timetables. And it seems to have worked, as her parents later in the interview agree that “She should make her own decision on her marriage.”

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The next woman interviewed is 36-year-old Zhu Li, a 36-year-old magazine editor.

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Like many unmarried Chinese women, Zhu Li’s has heard her parents voice their concerns that she’ll be unmarried when they die, thus preventing them from passing away knowing that the family will continue for another generation. It’s something her father admits to, saying “People of my age have traditional thoughts, of getting married and having children early, which gives comfort to…elders.” But through the Marriage Market Takeover, it seems his stance on the matter has shifted.

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Finally, the project’s producers spoke with 35-year-old pharmaceuticals buyer Hu Ting.

Of the single women interviewed, Hu Ting is the most assertive in explaining her single status, unabashedly stating that she has no desire to marry anyone she doesn’t think measures up to her standards.

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“For those women who are not married, you’re independent, strong, and confident,” she goes on to add, before the interviewers speak to her parents. The Marriage Market Takeover seems to have been an eye-opening experience for the pair, who say “She should walk her own path by herself,” and “If there isn’t a right one for her, we will respect her decision.”

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Impressed by how suddenly they’ve come around to her way of thinking, Hu Ting chuckles at the video evidence now in her debate arsenal.

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And even if the instant and complete 180 in their stance is too good to be true, the interview shows that they’ve at least taking the first few steps towards understanding their daughter a little better.

Source: SK-II
Top image: YouTube/SK-II
Insert images: YouTube/SK-II (1, 2, 3)