To be cute or sexy? – cultural differences in society

Today, my teacher made fun of my two class mates and me because we talked about how much we loved pink, girlish princessness and Hello Kitty stuff. He said that his own daughter, who’s only four, had already passed her pink Hello Kitty period. We all laughed but it made me think about this cultural difference in Chinese and Scandinavian societies.

In Denmark, we like black very much. We add some grey, white and even go beige if we are really in a rebel-kind-of-mood. Nude and light baby colors are colorful for Danes. The clothing in mainstream Danish shops are very similar all in low-key colors, especially dark. I never thought about this before I went to China and stumbled upon the colorful rainbow-theme of many Chinese people. I thought to myself that it seemed like the stronger and the more colors you could match, the better. I enjoyed my days in town watching all the different patterns and big cartoons on cute dresses worn by Chinese girls. The mix-match was so different from what I was used to but I was automatically pulled into it when I moved to a small Southern Chinese town where foreign brands were few and expensive. Going to the local clothing market became a thing and I enjoyed all the different fashion styles. I started to dress much cuter than I had before, and even when I spoke Chinese, I automatically used another cuter voice, like a little princess.


Furthermore, I quickly fell in love with the small cute items. Things, you don’t really need but they’re too cute not to buy. I now especially have a weakness for small notebooks and boxes with funny animals and cute Chinglish slogans on.

This is how my love for pink princess things developed. I was happy every time I found another cute thing I could bring back home and before I knew my room was filled up with colorful Chinese stuff. I didn’t think much about it before I went back home to Denmark again. I realized that the clothing from the market didn’t fit into the society. The cuteness was way too cute and I therefor didn’t wear the new clothes from China in public. Furthermore, my small cute things also didn’t match society. When I started university, I brought my pencil case. It was pink and people looked at it for a really long time. It was awkward. I got used to it but I soon realized how different the style was from the Danish one.


Fast forward five years later, my IPad cover is Hello Kitty, my phone’s cover is pink and has cute ears, my computer cover is a color of rainbow and my charger has a Hello Kitty head which is changing colors when I charge my phone. I love all of these items but I’m also used to friends making fun of it.

I’ve become much cuter after my trips to China and I’ve learned that in China girls are cute. If they are cute, boys like them. In China beauty standards are big eyes, a round white heart-shaped face and a cute girlish voice. The dressing is much cuter than in Denmark where girls don’t want to be cute because it’s associated with childish whereas grown-up and sexy are beauty standards.

Now, I’m trying to find the right mix of cute and sexy.

What are you thinking about this? Have you had this realization or is it just a Scandinavian thing? I do also think now that both American and English style are much cuter but it’s still with a hint of sexy. What do you think?

xx lingling

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  1. chinese men’s taste are possibly influenced by lin daiyu from the dream of red chamber — petite and willowy build. just a guess.

  2. Hi there, I laughed out loud when I read that people stared at your pencil case simply because it was pink. Do you think that the tendency for Danish people to wear plain, dull colours has something to do with the Jante’s Law that Scandinavians are known for? That is, in the Scandinavian countries, people who stand out from the crowd are not well regarded because they upset the ideal that everyone is equal in Scandinavian society?

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