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Global audiences turn to Chinese social media for blunt beauty advice

People are flocking to popular Chinese platform Xiaohongshu for honest, constructive feedback on improving their physical appearance. After advice seekers post their photos with the words 听劝 (ting quan, which translates to ‘listen to advice’), other users share their input, such as ‘make your eyebrows and hair the same color.’ In recent weeks, international users have started signing up to the app in droves, and the #tingquan hashtag has garnered over 500 million views globally.

Over two decades ago, people turned to Hot or Not to have strangers rate their appearance on a scale from 1 to 10. Today, the number of likes on an Instagram selfie can serve the same purpose, but that's not the same as receiving a plainspoken evaluation and actionable advice.

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On Western websites devoted to hair and beauty, requests for feedback result in replies that are, well, just too nice. But in Asia, when it comes to looks, many people still hold on to rigid beauty standards; for Chinese consumers entrenched in ‘face’ culture, presenting the best version of yourself is viewed as a matter of self-respect. So, giving blunt yet constructive personal grooming and styling advice is considered helpful, not offensive.

Consumers know when other people (and brands!) sugarcoat the truth. Which means that a dose of helpful yet unreserved candor can be a refreshing way to connect with new and existing audiences. If the line between blunt and mean is cultural, it's also malleable ;)