I just saw this very touching and concerning video about one of the pressures that women in China face – being labelled as “Sheng Nu”. Literally meaning “Leftover Woman” it refers to women above 25 who are not married. It got me upset. Just the meaning leftover woman is very demeaning and implies that a woman who is not married by 25, is no longer desirable and is a “leftover”. Wow. That is just unbelievable and that label doesn’t have a place in today’s world anymore. At least, that is what I personally think.
I guess it doesn’t surprise me, as women are facing the same pressures here locally. Everyone asks you when you’re getting married. And once you are married, when are you getting children. And once you have children, when are you getting more children. The pressure is always there. Simple questions like “when are you getting married?” or “when are you having a child?” although very simple and well-meaning, can be very hurtful to those asked.
I have written and spoken about this a lot. A woman’s role in society have changed a lot since the old days, and people need to accept this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home housewife by choice, or if you’re single and independent and trail-blazing your career: every woman has their own role and their own journey. And they all have to make certain sacrifices to go on that journey. And all of us, we are all strong women for making that choice and sacrifice.
A woman can be independent and single – by her own choice. A woman can be married and choose to work – by her own choice. A woman can be married and become a devoted fulltime mother – by her own choice. No one is better than the other. No one should feel better than the other.
I chose to marry at the age of 25 years old – not because I was pressured to, but because both my husband and I were ready for it. There was no pressure. I have never judged those who have yet to marry, because I do not know what journey they have gone through, and what their destination and goal in life is – and because of that, I only offer encouragement and support in whatever it is they chose and want to do.
For myself, I have always been ambitious and passionate in everything I do. After studying law for 5 years, I was very ambitious and worked just as hard or harder than everyone else to get to the top. I used to work long and insane hours, most of the time working overnight and over the weekends without sleep. I used to be involved in fields of law that everyone said “were not suitable for women” just to prove that women too can excel in any area they choose. I was extremely lucky to have a husband who supported my ambitions and passion towards what I chose to work on at the time. I remember not many people agreed with the way I worked and see it as abnormal for me to work like that.
Then, after being in legal practice for almost 7 years, I decided to switch career into fashion and start from scratch all over again. It wasn’t an easy decision and the challenges are definitely many, but I am also thankful of my husband’s support of my career change together with the challenges that come with it. But for single women who choose to advance in their careers, they too should deserve all the support for their choices. People who pursue their passions and ambitions, who refuse to get married just for the sake of it, they should not be shunned or pressured into conforming to society.
A lot of people say that girls who do not marry early, are either unattractive or very picky. But that is definitely not true. I know of a few very respectable women who I really look up to who have chosen not to marry yet – and they are very attractive, very polished and have a lot of admirers and suitors. Yet they chose not to marry. And if people cannot say that they are unattractive or very picky, they then try to label them as career minded – I don’t think that is wrong, because it is their choice.
The key to mutual respect and awareness that women have a right to choose how to live their life is very important. That’s why I support the #changedestiny campaign launched by SK-II to inspire and empower women to pursue and create their own destiny. Even though the pressure from society may be because of well-meaning love and concern, it is time more people understood and accept this change. The ending of the video is a little heart-warming, as the parents of these left-over women finally see their children for who they really are – independent, strong and beautiful women, and most importantly, happy with the choices they make in life.
But then, watch it for yourself first and let me know what you think of it too!
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PEACE & LOVE!