Is doing one’s make-up on high-speed trains “uncivilized behavior?” China Railway’s controversy
Published: Sep 17, 2023 07:40 PM Updated: Sep 17, 2023 07:36 PM
Screenshot of the controversial video. Photo:Sina Weibo

Screenshot of the controversial video. Photo:Sina Weibo

Doing make-up on high-speed train deemed “uncivilized behavior”? A video played on China’s high-speed train sparked a heated discussion. Later 12306 China Railway cleared up the matter by saying that travelers are allowed to do make up as long as they don’t affect other passengers. 

The controversy started when netizens posted a video online, showing a woman doing her make up on a high-speed train: her powder blows off onto a nearby male passenger, who pats the woman, saying “I don’t need make up.” Later in the video, a series of “tips” such as “Respect others”, “Respect public spaces, and “Don’t let your uncivilized behavior affect the beauty that the train ride deserves” appear on the screen. 

The video was made and posted by China Railway’s official Douyin account. Since July 6 this year, the account has published a slew of videos showing passengers taking others’ seats, children being noisy, and passengers playing loud music on high-speed trains. The one featuring make up is titled “A make up blogger’s beautiful trip” and has been deleted as of press time.

Yet the controversy it sparked has not died down. Hashtag “Why netizens disapprove listing make up on high-speed train as uncivilized behavior” attracted more than three million reads on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform as of Sunday afternoon. 

Some netizens pointed out that doing make up on high-speed railway is “not something to be considered uncivilized” or as“affecting others”, especially when compared to other behaviors such as taking off one’s shoes to reveal stinky feet, talking loud on phones, or occupying other passengers’ seats and refusing to give them back…

A number of netizens pointed out that few girls would spill out powder like the video showed, as “cosmetics are too expensive to be wasted like that,” said a Sina Weibo user, accusing the producers of a lack of commonsense. Others suspect the video was made to deliberately smear women.

When calling, China's national online train ticket booking platform 12306 on Sunday, the clerk told the Global Times that there’s no rule forbidding passengers to do their make up on high-speed trains. “As long as you don’t affect other passengers, like overturning cosmetics on them for example, you can do your make up on the train.”

An employee from the video’s producing team also told the media that their intention was simply to remind everyoneto be considerate towards fellow passengers . 

“We’re aware of the controversy caused by this video… yet it was not our intention to insult nor disrespect women,” said the employee, who promised they have learned from the incident. 

Global Times