Colours In Chinese Culture: What Do They Mean And Symbolise

Colours are here and there, everywhere. In Chinese culture, certain colours play a more prominent role than others, some colours more auspicious than others.

Growing up, this sentiment was what my Chinese-Malaysian parents taught me – that some colours we should see more of as a Chinese person, and other colours we shouldn’t pay too much attention to.

Colours all around us, from past to present to the future | Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta.

Colours all around us, from past to present to the future | Weekly Photo Challenge. Delta.

Each colour has different meanings in each culture. Different cultures perceive different colours differently. Different colours speak differently to each community and individual over time, past and present.

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Reasons Why Some Asians Dress Modestly And Conservatively

When it comes to fashion and clothing in Asian cultures, modest and conservative styles are more acceptable. Skimpy, figure-hugging, translucent and transparent clothing tends to be frowned upon, or at the very least not the go-to look for quite a few Asians.

Modest dressing is my kind of style pretty much every day. But that’s not to say I don’t wear something bordering on the ‘wild’ side. Occasionally I do, and have no regrets even though I come from a typical Chinese background.

Dress modestly, feel like you're in a different era, a different person | Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

Dress modestly, feel like you’re in a different era, a different person | Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia.

In a nutshell, for many men and women alike, modesty is about dressing in a way where we avoid drawing attention to ourselves and avoid inspiring sexual attraction. It’s also about our attitude and character, about being humble and reserved in the way we live our lives.

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Why Some Asians Are Obsessed With White Skin

White, fair skin is skin quite a number of Asians long for and actually go after. With the help of makeup and beauty products, a fair complexion is very much achievable for any of us.

When I was younger, I considered alabaster skin – skin as pale as the typical Westerner’s fair face – the epitome of beauty and explained why in a previous blog post. Today my tune has changed: when I do my makeup, some days I go for a look that is lighter than the natural colour of my face while other days, darker.

Some of us go to great lengths to look fair-skinned | Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare.

Some of us go to great lengths to look fair-skinned | Weekly Photo Challenge: Spare.

We all have our reasons for liking and looking a certain way. For some of us stereotypical Asians, having a light complexion is not only a marker of beauty, but also a marker of pride and status.

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Long Hair Versus Short Hair. What Our Hairstyles Say About Us And Our Culture

Long hair. Short hair. When it’s time for a haircut, there’s always the question of how much hair to chop off. For the guys, sometimes there’s also the dilemma of deciding how much facial hair to keep when it starts getting long – beards and moustaches go hand-in-hand with certain haircuts.

Long hair has always been my preference. My Chinese-Malaysian mum prefers otherwise on me. Each time I come back from the hairdressers with freshly layered hair reaching slightly below the shoulders, she remarks, “Still so long”. She isn’t a fan of facial hair either, bugging my brother to shave when lonely, stray hairs mushroom around his mouth.

Love my beard and long fringe. November 2014. Some of us prefer long hair. Others short hair | Weekly Photo Challenge: Envelope.

Love my beard and long fringe. November 2014. Some of us prefer long hair. Others short hair | Weekly Photo Challenge: Envelope.

When it’s time to get our hair cut, some of us think practical and go for a no-nonsense hairstyle. We opt for a hairstyle hoping it will fall into place when we stumble out of bed, one that feels a natural extension of ourselves – “the usual” that we may request at the hairdresser’s.

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Differences Between Eastern And Western Fashion. And Why We Dress The Way We Do

We all have our own ways of dressing, our different tastes in fashion and clothes. Every day wear, and formal cultural attire and costumes, come in different styles around the world.

Going to school in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore meant I had opportunities to shop for clothes regularly in three different countries. As a kid, my Chinese-Malaysian mum took me to malls in these cities twice a year during the sales and pointed out clothes she thought looked good on me.

When we're comfortable with what we're wearing, we're confident. Model and businesswoman Heidi Klum | Forces of Nature.

When we’re comfortable with what we’re wearing, we’re confident. Model and businesswoman Heidi Klum | Forces of Nature.

Walking through clothing stores in Asia, we’re bound to see a sea of colourful clothes, be it colourful T-shirts with slogans or traditional sarees and cheongsams. That is, light coloured clothes usually outnumber the darker coloured ones. In Asian cultures, bright colours are auspicious. Red and yellow are symbolic of prosperity for the Chinese, the former signifying progress and the latter earth, farming and growth. During imperial eras, these colours were worn mainly by royalty, those with wealth and power.

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When Is It Okay To Wear Cultural Costumes?

A few months ago, I was wandering through Bourke Street Mall on a summer’s Saturday afternoon and spied some buskers wearing traditional cultural attire (photo).

I wondered if anyone saw this scene as racist.

I stopped to watch. It stuck me as odd that they were wearing sunglasses with their outfits.

Three buskers, three instruments and three Sri Lankan outfits. | Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes.

Three buskers, three instruments and three Sri Lankan outfits. | Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes.

There are two scenarios when it comes to wearing cultural clothing: us wearing our own culture’s traditional clothes and us wearing another culture’s traditional clothes.

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