Why do many Chinese look younger than their age?

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/16 18:43:39

Fountain of youth

It is said that "black don't crack," but perhaps Asians are even better at looking young.

A Chinese weather anchorwoman recently stunned the internet for appearing to not having aged after 22 years on the job.

In a video posted online showing a collection of footage from 1996 to 2018 of forecaster Yang Dan, netizens found that Yang, now aged 44, looks no different than her 22-year-old self. Many who have followed Yang's career expounded about how they have aged over the decades while she has not.

This raised the question about why Chinese people tend to look younger than their actual age. One Australian internet user posted "Marry one [Asian] aged 20 and you'll be looking at the same person for the next 40 years."

Are foreigners just bad at telling the age of Chinese people, or do Chinese truly age better? What causes this difference? We asked some foreigners living in Shanghai for their input, showing pictures of Chinese celebrities and asking our interviewees how old they appear.

Generally, the people we interviewed tended to believe that Chinese look much younger than their real age. "You [Chinese] age well and there is a dramatic shift after 70, when you kind of just shrink and get white haired. But until 70 you all look younger," said Eugenia from Italy.

"Very often they [Chinese] look younger than you think and most of time it is a mystery," said Ricardo from Italy, who has been in Shanghai for three years but still wouldn't dare guess the age of a local so as to save himself from embarrassment. "I would say Asians generally look younger."

Vik from India has been in Shanghai for 10 years but still can never tell the correct age of a Chinese. "It works 50 percent of the time," said Vik, who once met a woman he thought was a fresh graduate but later found out she was married with a child.

Photos: VCG and Lu Ting/GT

You are what you eat?

Many foreigners we spoke with attributed the youthful appearances of Chinese to a balanced diet. Compared to Western food, which is notoriously unhealthy and fattening, Chinese cuisine could indeed be the secret.

Steven from the UK believes diet makes all the difference, as Chinese tend to eat more vegetables while Westerners eat more meat, dairy, bread, potatoes and pastries.

"I think we eat more unnatural food," said Steven, who noticed that this difference also exists in some European countries. "If you go to Greece, Italy or the Mediterranean, I think they have a better diet and probably look younger," said Steven.

In addition to diet, many interviewees also mentioned Chinese people's pursuit of fairer (whiter) skin and the avoidance of direct sunlight as a way to stay looking young and avoid wrinkles and blemishes.

"The sun turns you older faster. I don't see many Chinese outside tanning," said Ricardo, who was surprised to find everyone in Shanghai holding an umbrella on a sunny day during his first visit here.

"I see more umbrellas in Shanghai on sunny days compared to rainy days," Ricardo laughed.

Young at heart

Staying young, however, is not just about appearances. It is also a state of mind. Some interviewees said that Chinese traditional culture helps local stay preserved.

Citing tai chi as an example, Eugenia said that this helps Chinese concentrate on their spiritual and physical well-being, which can keep the soul young. "If you feel young, you look younger," she said.

"You Chinese have a quiet lifestyle. More calm and chill compared to the Western lifestyle. You take time to do your things," Ricardo said.

But photo apps can help in this regard. Vik suggested Meitu, one of the most popular photo-editing and selfie apps in China with around 400 million monthly active users.

"I like Meitu," he said. "When I look at it I am like, 'wow it's not like me!'" he laughed.









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