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Thick skin? 厚脸皮

中国日报网 2018-11-02 12:13

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Reader question:

When a person is described as having “thick skin”, what does it mean?


My comments:

Obviously it’s not to be taken literally. It doesn’t mean that person has a hide as thick as a donkey’s.

Instead, “thick skin” is meant to be taken metaphorically. It means, in Chinese parley, they have what people say a thick face (or facial skin). They’re cheeky and audacious and obtuse and rough and rude, and are not wont to feel ashamed when they do or say something untoward or inappropriate or utterly unconventional.

To have a thick skin is the opposite of having a thin skin, obviously. Again, in Chinese, we talk of people who have a thin face. They’re ones who are kind of timid and sensitive. The thin-skinned may get embarrassed and hurt easily. They may burst into tears, for example, if they get criticized in public – whether the criticism is valid or unjustified.

Needless to say, the thin-skinned will have a hard time working in the public arena, whether in sports, entertainment or politics. In these lines of work, people are constantly being judged for everything they do or say. And if they cannot learn to take things in stride, so to speak, they won’t be able to be themselves, that is, be their own true selves.

In other words, they need to “grow a thick skin” in order to thrive.

Or to merely survive.

All right, here are examples of people who have “thick skin” instead of thin, for better or worse:


1. Rush Limbaugh was uncharacteristically quiet today after Chelsea Clinton recounted how the conservative talk show host appeared to make fun her looks by comparing her to a dog when she was 13-years-old.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, had harsh word for Limbaugh when reminded of the incident saying, “We’re better than that.”

Chelsea Clinton spoke last week about Limbaugh's comments while on a panel about women involved in politics. The former first daughter made the comments while defending Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke who had been ridiculed last month by Limbaugh as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying before Congress in support of a government mandate requiring health insurance to cover contraception.

“She and I actually have something in common,” Chelsea Clinton said. “We’ve both have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh.”

“She was 30. I was 13,” she added.

When her dad, former President Bill Clinton, was in the White House and Limbaugh was on television as well as radio, the conservative commentator had this to say about the teenage girl living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. back in 1993:

“Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” Limbaugh said on his television show before showing an image of the young Clinton.

“Thankfully I had grown up in public life and knew that having thick skin was a survival skill,” Chelsea Clinton said after recounting the incident. “I do also believe if you have the right type of enemies you’re doing something correct.”

- Chelsea Clinton, Sandra Fluke Unite Over Rush Limbaugh Attacks, ABC News, April 3, 2012.


2. Sanaa Lathan doesn’t care much for gossip after the year she has had.

The actress, who stars in Netflix’s new original film Nappily Ever After, is opening up about how she keeps herself grounded amidst Hollywood gossip. (Tiffany Haddish famously accused her of biting Beyoncé; Lathan addressed the rumors in May, telling Health, “I think it’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever been involved with.”)

When it comes to handling the spotlight and the headlines that come with it, Lathan tells PEOPLE she’s developed “thick skin” over the years.

“It’s almost impossible if you’re on social media to not see stories about yourself,” the 47-year-old actress says. “The good thing is I’ve been in this industry for 20 years so I have thick skin.”

- Sanaa Lathan Has 'Thick Skin' When It Comes to Gossip After a Wild Year, People.com, September 21, 2018.


3. Politics can be tough to be actively involved in, especially as a public figure. Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been finding that out.

The issue is bigger than Judge Kavanaugh. Politics can be ruthless, and often to most, what to believe is often more subjective than objective.

Both sides engage in posturing and do not see the “sins” of their own side, but only see the “sins” of their opposition.

Whatever ultimately happens in the Kavanaugh appointment, it will leave a “bad taste” with many Americans. It needs to be a legitimate concern about candidate recruitment for offices, and why people do not seek them. A number of people avoid becoming active in politics because they have real concerns. If they have a business, their politics could impact it. There are also personal, family, work, and time concerns that explain why people do not get politically involved. Also, most don’t have an avid or even mild interest to be involved. You do need a “thick skin,” often, to be in politics.

- Letter: You need a thick skin in politics, TheWesterlySun.com, October 05, 2018.

本文仅代表作者本人观点,与本网立场无关。欢迎大家讨论学术问题,尊重他人,禁止人身攻击和发布一切违反国家现行法律法规的内容。

About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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