The Beijing Belly

The Beijing Belly

Catharine Hughes explores the summer trend of Beijing

I haven’t given much thought to predicting the fashion forecasts of 2018, but hopefully the industry will be kind enough to give girls full sized tops back, and a warmer midriff. Beijing, however, is a place which adopts this style for far more pragmatic reasons.

Walking along the streets of Beijing in summer is a sensory treat; the high-rises, the hutongs, the voluminous sweeping green willow tress, the street food, the Beijing Belly.

Men of all ages and sizes proudly parade through the streets displaying their stomachs. In a city where temperatures can easily reach 40 degrees, with an added helping of smog and humidity, this is more than just a fashion statement, but a quick-fix self implemented form of air conditioning. This phenomenon has also been dubbed the ‘Beijing Bikini’, pointing out the mirroring styles akin to women’s swimwear.

According to The Beijinger the motivations for this activity lie deeper than purely comfort and temperature. They argue that the belly is a vessel for ‘qi’ (energy in Chinese medical theory). Henceforth, exposing the belly will help to expel excess amounts. Furthermore, in only rolling up the shirt one is able to maintain one’s modesty (whereas as removing it completely would be wholly compromising).

It’s not certain how long the men of Beijing (or indeed across China) have been exposing their bellies, for it was only really brought to international attention in 2015 when foreigners were inspired by the belly to start a photo competition, #igersbeijingbelly.  Reactions are generally not that critical, at most they point out the satirical elements in this look. Some may interpret that the Beijing Bikini represents the happy spirit of the country, but ultimately as Uday Phalgun said for, ‘as long as I’m not hurting anyone, I think it’s fine’.

Feature image credit: Catharine Hughes

1 Comment

  1. Avatar May 10, 2019 / 2:36 pm

    Interesting way of beating the heat. We are going back in time for natural ways and I think its awesome.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.