China’s gender imbalance is the result of the well-known population control mechanism, the One-Child policy, which led to people preferring to have baby boys over girls if they could have only one. Thirty years after the introduction of the policy, China has a surplus of bachelors struggling to find spouses or girlfriends because of a gender ratio estimated by Chinese media to be at 122 boys born to every 100 girls.
As social media increasingly becomes a platform not only keep in touch with friends, but a place to flaunt what you have to these friends, China’s lovelorn bachelors find themselves missing out -- until now. With the help of popular Japanese blogger Jinushi Keisuke, a detailed description and photo essay has gone viral on Chinese, Korean and Japanese social media helping single men on social media give the appearance that they are in relationships. All you need, Jinushi says, is a camera and some nail polish.
Jinushi takes carefully framed photos of himself at various places, like at lunch or at the park, which make him look like he’s being babied and fed by a mysterious hand with painted red fingernails, who is presumably his girlfriend off-camera. Zoom out a little further and people will find that the hand is actually Jinushi’s own, which he had painted to make look more feminine. “I painted foundation and nail polish on my hand,” Jinushi said. “The soft, glittering hand of a woman can be reproduced this way, and it’s perfect if you slip a scrunchie on your wrist afterwards!”
The self-proclaimed nerd blogger contorts his arms to make photos look like another person is accompanying him, when in fact it’s just a camera trick. Jinushi offers up step-by-step directions in achieving photographic deception on Japanese humor site, Daily Portal Z. “The act of a girlfriend feeding her boyfriend and making him say ‘ah’ as he opens his mouth is typical of flirting…” he wrote. “But a man can’t make himself say ‘ah’ alone! A love is required. But you don’t need a real lover… Just remember to push the shutter of your smartphone with your left hand.”
The final touch in completing a photo essay is to make sure to hold an expression of shyness or embarrassment, not because you dedicated time and effort into faking a girlfriend, but because most boyfriends would be embarrassed by their girlfriend’s intrusive photo habits.
While the post is intended to be mostly a satirical commentary on both social media relationships as well as the plight of bachelorhood, the post does touch on serious issues of loneliness for many Chinese men.
“I get very lonely,” one 36-year-old migrant worker told a researcher with the Institute of Social and Family Medicine at Zhejiang University. “No one cares about me, and I have no one to speak to when I go home.”
Many of those single men in China, a demographic residing in mostly rural or poverty-stricken areas that has been dubbed as “bare branch bachelors,” are going through what the Atlantic is calling a “reversal of hundreds of years of gender discrimination in China.”
That being said, navigating love and dating isn’t exactly a breeze for women in China either. The pressure to marry and settle down comes early among most traditional Chinese. After a certain age, designated at around 27 years old, an unmarried female is considered to be a “leftover woman.”