One of the things that most shocked me when I came to Asia was the sheer size and scale of the slimming industry. Whereas back in the UK this was largely absent except for occasional adverts for Slimfast or Weight Watchers, here in HK by far the majority of adverts in places like the metro station are for slimming treatments and potions. This is mainly because you can make almost any claim for a product here and you don't actually need to be able to prove it, but there is also a cultural obsession with being stick thin (as opposed to being healthy), which I can never quite understand.
Often the adverts are accompanied by highly amusing before and after pictures. One of my favourites is where the before picture is tucking into a huge lollipop and clearly a whole lot happier than she is in the after picture. Another one that is plastered on the back of the seats of the bus I get home from work has the girl in the after picture dressed up as a hooker, complete with red platform stilettos and a cowboy hat. Normally I laugh them off for being the silliness that they clearly are. However, as I went via the metro station this morning to shout at my mobile phone company (a long and tedious battle that I have finally won) I passed one that made me quite angry.
The after picture had a woman in an unfeasibly small white dress looking benignly happy. However, the before picture had her looking unhappy, dressed in many layers of jumpers and trousers, with a baby next to her, implying that she was the mother (the ad was in Chinese so I don't know what it actually said). I know that baby weight is an issue for most women, I had my own demons over that one, but surely linking this so directly to a slimming product is just wrong? New Mums have enough to worry about without being reminded that as well as feeling like a dairy cow, never sleeping, not having enough time for a bath let alone make-up or exercise, they are also fat. Shame on you advertising men.
Postscript: I have two friends here who were told within about a week of having the baby that they should already have started the diet to lose the baby weight. One was told by her mother-in-law and the other, more shockingly, by her husband.