Bare-chested Beijingers 'a national embarrassment

Shanghai Star. 2002-07-11

A major Beijing newspaper has begun running "topless" photographs - to encourage their subjects to put their clothes back on.

The pictures are part of a media campaign in the Chinese capital to end the age-old "uncivilized habit" of men going bare-chested in summer - a problem many people believe to be a national embarrassment.

The campaign has been unfolded in the city under a precondition of non-infringement upon personal privacy.

Over the last two weeks the Beijing Youth Daily has carried 20 photographs of "topless" men, most of which were taken by readers responding to the campaign.

The purpose of publishing the pictures was to make the men, nicknamed "bare-chested masters" by Beijingers, feel ashamed of themselves and put on their clothes again, according to the newspaper.

In the past, poor Chinese men traditionally went bare-chested in summer as it was their only way to keep cool and many could not afford decent clothes. However, with the rapid economic development and the great improvement of people's living standard, advent of electric fans and air conditioners has rendered the practice socially unacceptable.

"This tradition of partial body baring will bring shame on our city as so many foreigners are coming here for sightseeing,'' said a local resident who wanted to be identified as "Mr Li".

Cao Sui, a professor from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, also stressed the importance of image-building for Beijingers as the city prepared to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

Editors of the newspaper said all the published photos had either focused on the person's back or received special treatment in order to protect the privacy of the subjects.

They also said the newspaper's initiative was welcomed by readers. Some companies had even offered free tee-shirts for those willing to cover up.

Follow-up investigations also found that the number of bare-chested men in the city were on the decline following the publication of the photos, they added.


Copyright by Shanghai Star.