If you’ve been in Taiwan for 24 hrs. or more, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’re not missing out.
What I’m referring to is the fashionably dressed, accessory carrying, irritating female embodiment of sickening “cuteness” that refers to everything as “Hen ke’ai” (Soooo cute).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about real, normal Taiwanese women. They are fantastic, no complaints here. No sir! I’m talking about the under evolved variants – the walking, talking avatars of annoying and fake. The epitomes of corny, the mistresses of cheesy. The ones you want to slap in the face just for being born.
Yes, I’m talking about the Taiwanese Princess. Here’s a gaggle of them:
While more conspicuous in the cities, they can be found island wide – usually travelling in groups exclaiming how cute everything is and sighing in rapture over every small thing they see. It’s so irritating, that I think even Jesus would contemplate killing bunnies.
This affliction is categorized by the following symptoms:
- Excessive gushing over small items/animals etc.
- Uncontrolled use of the word “Ke ai” which means “cute” in Mandarin, but also has broader connotations.
- Cakes of make-up resulting in plastic face image.
- Childish mannerisms designed to increase attractiveness to the opposite sex.
- High, nasal voice (often 3 octaves above what would be considered normal).
- Chronic Duckface.
- Over use of accessories (purses, rings, shoes, jewellry etc).
While this would be understandable if it were limited to young, teenage girls, it’s not. I’ve come across grown-up, professional women who are also afflicted with this condition.
The sense of feminine cuteness has gone to such an absurd degree in Taiwan that it makes me want to strangle myself.
But where did it come from? What turns normal people into aggravating incarnations of cloying idiocy? Is it as simple as imitating fashion and media archetypes? Is it just a phase that young women go through and some never escape? Or is there something deeper? I dug into the shrouded, mysterious origins of the Taiwanese Princess, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
Rhetoric aside, traditionally, Asian culture has a defined role for women. Historically, it’s the role of the Taiwanese woman, to be subservient to the man. While this is all changing now, the roots go deep, and the man is still seen as a rock or sturdy oak for the woman to lean on. Thus, acting cute/a little childish is expected of a woman. In my experience so far, most male Taiwanese like it when a woman is all cute and relies on them for most things. In addition to reliance on the man, softness and femininity are desireable qualities in a woman. Whether this is right or wrong is a personal judgement.
This much I can understand – wanting a wife who is very womanly and soft can be appealing to a lot of guys, and re-inforce their sense of masculinity. Fine. But there is a line. Reliance on someone doesn’t mean that one has to act totally childish or take soft femininity to the extreme of pouty, princess like behaviour.
It seems like the natural softness and mannerisms of Taiwanese women have been exagerrated over time to an extreme degree. And this has become so widespread, that it’s now an everyday thing when interacting with a member of the opposite sex. For example, I go into a Starbuck, and the girl behind the counter talks to me in an impossibly high, nasal tone, presumeably meant to be cute. There is no way her voice can be that high – unless she has some sort of problem with her vocal chords. Sure, I can understand having a sweet voice and talking cutely to a loved one – that makes sense, but to constantly be like that? Why?
I have a feeling that this is something that has been ingrained from centuries of women being taught to be deferential to men. Appearing humble and innocent (childlike) has great appeal to the Taiwanese man, so these traits were encouraged, and now are running out of hand.
Or are they?
Perhaps Taiwanese women have realized that appearing like wilting lillies gives them an edge over the males without making it obvious. It’s common knowledge, that when faced with womanly charms, most males stop thinking with their brains, and defer to their ummm…other decision making processes. Few will admit it, but c’mon!
So, by giving off an exagerrated sense of dependence, The Taiwanese Princess makes the man let down his guard and be more open to her suggestions. Over the course of time, these suggestions become more frequent, and finally, while the man is under the impression that he is making the decisions, it’s really coming from the Princess. It’s a win-win situation – the Taiwanese man thinks he’s in control, and the Taiwanese Princess gets everything she wants.
In terms of a job, this would work the same way. Older, more traditional men will defy and go head to head with a strong female presence, but if they are faced with a cute, humble woman, they will be disarmed. Acting dependant will smooth the way for promotions, sales etc, etc.
So if one looks at it in this light, then all the excrutiatingly sweet cuteness is a cunning, pre-emptive training program for young women in Taiwan to be successful in what is traditionally a male dominated society. Maybe it’s the natural evolution of gender relations leading toward equality.
Whether this will work with western men is totally up to question. There are definitely women I’ve met in Canada who fit the profile of a Taiwanese Princess, but they are few, and far between. And even then, they are more like a diet coke version of the real thing. For myself, I wouldn’t be able to stand dating or having business relationships with this type of person. For dating, I’d feel like a pedophile, and at work, I’d feel like shaking them and yelling, “Stop being so damn fake!!” And then I’d probably be in hot water for some sort of workplace harassment. Bollocks!
Nevertheless, it works with the mentality of Taiwanese men. So for all their moronic vapidness and air-headedness, there may be a plan to their repetitions of “Hen Ke’ai.” Very smart.
I’m on to you, Taiwanese Princesses!