Bronze Bodies, a newly
opened tanning salon in
fashionable central Shanghai, has expanded its VIP membership to about 900
people and is planning to deliver value-added services like how to
coordinate hair and clothes with newly tanned skin.
|A customer waits to start her tanning session
at a tanning salon in Shanghai August 1, 2006.
"I am making a fashion statement," owner Li Rui told Reuters. "It's not
merely about tanned skin , but
creating a fresh lifestyle choice for Chinese."
The service is not for everyone, though, being unaffordable for most
ordinary Chinese. A one-month course of tanning sessions costs between 700
yuan ($88) and 2,000 yuan, almost the average monthly wage in Shanghai.
"People can immediately tell how wealthy you are by looking at your
golden tanned skin," said a tanning branch manager who identified herself
as Jin. "It looks shiny and healthy, quite different from the dim and
coarse skin of day laborers."
The appearance of tanned models on billboards around China and of
bronzed actors, such as Hong Kong heart throb Louis Koom, on television
and at the movies is also having an impact.
Lulu, an aspiring Shanghai singer does not want to look like the pasty
skinned stars of her youth. Hispanic US actress-singer Jennifer Lopez is
more her style.
"It looks sunny and outgoing, not pale and fragile," she said.
She is in the minority for Chinese women as tanning salon owners say 70
percent of their customers are men.
Women generally opt for the
traditionally defined concepts of beauty in China which call for pale
skin, untouched by the sun.
The young and trendy have been the first to pick up on the tanning
fashion in China as well as people who have lived abroad and want to show
off their new sophistication.
Student He Ziqing tops up his tan at a salon in Shanghai after picking
up the sun bathing bug on a
trip to Germany.
"Germans enjoy sun bathing on the beach. I go with my German friends
when I'm there on holiday," he said, adding he did not visit the
artificial beaches that sprout in Shanghai's suburbs during the punishing
"It's too course to do that here," he sniffed.