- Chinese social media is bucking the trend of parents dressing their children in “spicy” clothes.
- State media has come out guns blazing against the concept, calling it “soft pornography.”
- He accused fashion retailers of “fanning the flames” of a trend that parents were “blindly following.”
Some parents in China are dressing their young daughters in backless dresses, tops and miniskirts – and the internet is having none of it.
Several state-affiliated outlets issued scathing commentaries this week slamming “spicy milk style”, a term used on Chinese social media to describe children wearing clothes originally designed for grown women.
The viral trend on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, followed state-owned paper Legal Daily She discussed on Monday the case of a calligraphy teacher in Beijing who noticed that one of her students was wearing black socks and a nude dress.
Her students are between six and eight years old, depending on the centre. “Does a child of that age need to dress like that?” the teacher, identified by her surname as Zhu, told Legal Daily.
When the teacher confronted the girl’s parents, they disagreed with his concerns, Legal Daily reported. The outlet cited additional examples of parents posting photos of their children posing sexually in tube tops and pearl necklaces.
The outlet wrote that the clothing may look “cute and funny”, but called the contents “extremely inappropriate” and accused parents of using their own children in “soft pornography”.
Dreaming and worrying about the sexualization of minors
The “spicy milk style” has since been hit by a tidal wave of online backlash and concerns about minors being sexualised. The trend received 130 million views on Weibo this week alone, according to data seen by Insider.
“There are so many perverts and pedophiles today, and yet there are parents and businesses that will make things easy for them,” one person said.
“So which aesthetic is this? Is it the child’s own aesthetic? I think it’s the parent’s,” someone else wrote.
Others were disturbed by the name of the trend itself. “What is this style of spicy milk? Honestly, a psychopath invented this term,” one user wrote.
“Spicy milk style, really disgusting buzzword,” said another.
State-owned outlet People’s Daily said that fashion retailers selling such clothing were “flaming the flames” for putting “sexy clothes” on children, and that parents were “blindly following the trend.”
“Tight skirts, low-cut dresses, high heels. Can you even imagine this on a girl who is only four or five years old?” the outlet write on Tuesday.
Kindergarten teachers reported hearing their students discuss wearing miniskirts to attract attention, People’s Daily added, without specifying which schools or cities these children studied.
China Daily, a paper owned by the Communist Party, criticized arguments that families have the right to dress their children however they see fit.
“Freedom of dress is by no means an unlimited freedom,” he wrote on Wednesday. “Children’s clothes are not miniature versions of grown-up clothes.”
At least one store was suspended for selling these clothes
Early Friday, searches for “spicy milk style” on China’s popular e-commerce platforms were mostly women’s clothing results, although some stores still featured child models sporting makeup looks.
Legal Daily reported that at least one children’s clothing store was suspended for three days and fined, although it disputed the penalty. The outlet did not name the platform.
It also appears that some children’s clothing items have been discontinued from online stores, although it is not clear at what point exactly.
Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the Chinese authorities have taken a more active approach to discussing standards and norms for families and children. In 2021, the country’s education ministry banned “effeminate men” from national television, saying they plan to combat the “feminization” of young men and boys.
In China’s public schools, children are taught “Xi Jinping Thought,” a set of ideals of the leader in question to run at the same time as the teachings of Mao Zedong himself.