Today two good friends and I went for an adventure in a remote Shanghai neighborhood where mostly migrant workers from the provinces live and where their children go to special schools. These are the workers responsible for lifting Shanghai from the ground up to soaring levels with its new high rises and luxury hotels that mushroom at an impressive speed around the jewel of China. The residences are extremely modest and the children struggle to learn as best they can under their current circumstances. On this day the teacher said that they would be celebrating children’s day (normally on June 2nd in China) and strangely enough they pointed out a few of the girls who they consider ‘beautiful’ and explained why they were dressed in party clothes and not the usual school uniform. The declaration of their beauty was done openly in front of all the other students, a concept I found incredibly alien and difficult to understand. “She is the most beautiful girl in the class” the teacher announced loudly, ” and this is why she will be presented on stage today”.
11 replies on “displaced destinies”
As we all know, appearance is only one small facet. There are so many other facets of much greater significance e.g. strength of character, kindness to others, loyalty, kindness to self, ability to persevere, personal resilience etc etc. All children are beautiful in their own way. But I must admit your photo really seems to portray that lovely innocence of childhood (beauty or no beauty, it is this innocence that can be so appealing). Lovely depth of field and such an honest quality in this little girls eyes. It’s a beautiful photo.
Beautiful photo. The revelation on the emphasis on beauty from such a young age is shocking.
Beautiful portrait, Mimo! But, you know, human nature never ceases to amaze me – I become very cynical it must be said. I find this open declaration of beauty truly astounding. Adrian
Yes indeed Adrian! It was startling to me as well!
i wonder why the teacher did that, if that’s common or just one off, and what the rationale behind it would be… I’m very surprised this to be happening in China (not that I know much about the country)
People, I find, are very direct here. Still I found it very strange for the children to hear this. Thank you for commenting!
This whole situation would have made me very uncomfortable, even thought she is a beautiful child. And you have created a stunning portrait.
Yes, as it did me. Thanks as always for your support!
Yes, a beautiful portrait but how disturbing is your story!
A lovely photo, but I agree with you, the idea of picking out individual school children as being the most beautiful in a class seems very strange to me. I wouldn’t have expected it in China, or anywhere else really.
It truly is. Thank you so much for commenting.