The difference between meng and cute

Do Chinese really think girls in Paris wear rabbit ears?

One thing that has puzzled me here in China, is the habit of adult girls and women to wear clothes with cartoon characters on them. And their habit to wear bunny and cats ears when out and about shopping or hanging out at night. At first I thought they were just young girls, but often they are no longer students and well over 20. Not a sight you encounter very often in ‘the west.” I must admit I have a soft spot for Miffy myself, but wearing clothes with the rabbit on it? Not since I was 5 years old (although admittedly, I bought a Miffy bag in my early twenties, but didn’t dare to take it outside). I had heard that Chinese youth is very influenced by Japanese and Korean popular culture, with their big eyed cartoons, but that was about it.

The China Daily shed light on the phenomenon on Tuesday. Apparently, the word for it is meng. It comes from Japan and describes adorable and appealing “things,” from young dogs to Beetle cars to innocent female cartoon characters. It leads to Hello Kitty themed restaurants, where lovers between 18 and 30(!) go. And wedding pictures with bride and groom wearing matching Angry Bird t-shirts.

Apparently, the Chinese see it as a way of escaping from work reality and to show their individuality. When they were younger they did not often have access to such products. I’m still not convinced that dressing meng is cute when you’re over 11. But maybe I’ll buy a pair of bunny ears for my phone too, it will definitely make me stand out when on Christmas leave back home.