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Why do floral antenna hairpins come into fashion in China?

weed hairpin in China


BEIJING — When Mao stirred China with a call to let a hundred flowers bloom, he surely never imagined anything as frivolous as this.

北京——当初毛泽东在中国提出"百花齐放"的方针时,他肯定料想不到会出现如此肤浅的事。

 

Across China, grown-ups are sporting plastic decorations on their heads in the shape of vegetables, fruit and flowers.

中国各地都出现了成年人在头上佩戴着蔬菜、水果和花朵形状的塑料装饰物的情况。

 

When the trend started a few months ago, it was usually just a humble bean sprout clipped to the hair and erect like a little green flagpole. 

几个月前,这种潮流刚开始流行时,人们只是在头发上别着如绿色小旗杆一样的豆芽发卡。

 

But as the fad ramped up, especially during the current National Day holiday week when Beijing fills with visitors, it has escalated and diversified to include a riot of plastic vegetation. Now heads are bristling with clover, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, lavender, mushrooms, chilies, cherries, gourds and pine trees.

但随着这一风潮升温,尤其是在北京游人如织的国庆假日期间,它进一步升级并变得多样化起来,囊括了各种各样的塑料植物。现在,人们头上立着三叶草、向日葵、菊花、薰衣草、蘑菇、辣椒、樱桃、葫芦和松树。

 

"Some people think it's cute, some think it's just plain infantile," said Wang Yue, a sales assistant who was carefully arranging three newly purchased flowers and a cherry stem on her friend's head.

"有些人觉得可爱,有些人觉得根本就是小孩子玩的,"销售助理王悦(音)说。她的朋友刚刚买了三朵花和一颗樱桃戴在头上,王悦正仔细地帮朋友整理。

 

"It doesn't really make you feel that different," said the friend with the cherry on top, Xi Caixia. "Maybe a bit childish."

"它并不会让你感觉太与众不同,"头上顶着樱桃装饰的这位朋友席彩霞(音)说。"可能有点孩子气。"

 

No one seems to know how the mania started or why. Wearers and hawkers of the herbaceous headwear offered a bewildering range of theories, or baffled shrugs.

似乎没人知道这股风潮如何兴起,或者为何而起。对此,佩戴者和小贩要么有着千奇百怪的理论,要么只是不知所以地耸耸肩。 

 

"This shows that in China now we'll try almost anything that we see on the Internet," said Wang Hao, a college student from northwest China wearing a sprig of clover while strolling a Beijing street. "Nobody knows what it means, but we do it anyway."

"这显示出,在如今的中国,我们会尝试在网络上看到的几乎所有东西,"戴着三叶草发卡走在北京街头的来自西北地区的大学生王浩(音)说。"没人知道它有什么意义,但大家都戴。"

 

Some Chinese newspaper reports have suggested the fad harked back to ancient Chinese teachings about harmony with nature; others have seen echoes of Teletubbies, the late-'90s British television show featuring alien toddlers with wacky antennas sprouting from their bulbous heads.

中国报章的一些报道表示,这种风尚是回归天人合一的古训;还有人认为,这种造型类似90年代后期的英国电视节目《天线宝宝》(Teletubbies)中的外星人宝宝形象,它们圆鼓鼓的头上伸着古怪的天线。

 

The trend may have been inspired by the Japanese-style emoticons popular on Chinese websites, some say. Many wearers and sellers suspect it started in Chengdu, a city in southwest China known for its laid-back lifestyle.

有些人表示,这种风尚是受到中国网站上流行的日式表情符号的启发。很多佩戴者和销售者推测它最初是从成都开始流行的。这座中国西南部的城市以悠闲放松的生活方式著称。

 

The trend received mainstream endorsement last month when photographs spread on the Internet of Jay Chou, a Taiwanese singer vastly popular in China, and his wife, Hannah Quinlivan, wearing bean sprouts.

上个月,在中国极其受欢迎的台湾歌手周杰伦和妻子昆凌佩戴豆芽发饰的照片在网上广为传播,这一风潮因此得到了主流文化的认可。

 

"Bean sprouts are still our most popular item," said Zeng Wen, a wholesaler in Yiwu, a market city in eastern China that has thrived from selling consumers things that they never knew they needed, like glow-in-the-dark hula hoops and Big Mouth Billy Bass, the singing mounted fish.

"目前我们这里卖得最好的还是豆芽发卡,"义乌批发商曾文(音)说道。义乌是位于中国东部的商贸城市,依靠向消费者销售他们本不觉得需要的东西而繁荣起来,比如发光呼啦圈,和会唱歌的壁挂鱼大嘴比利·巴斯(Big Mouth Billy Bass)。

 

The most common explanation on the streets was that the floral fascinators just looked cute — "meng meng da," in a cloying term made popular on the Internet.

街头最常见的解释是,这种植物头饰看起来可爱,用网上的一个甜腻用语来说,就是"萌萌哒"。


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"It's fun, but I guess it's also about protecting the environment, to show that you care about nature," said Mao Wenli, 50, who was selling plantwear in downtown Beijing. Watching trays of cherries, roses and bean sprouts, he saw no paradox in their being churned out in factories, or in his being quite bald.

"它是很好玩,但我想和保护环境也有点关系,可以显示出你关心大自然,"正在市中心兜售植物发卡的50岁的毛文力(音)说。看着这一盘盘的樱桃、玫瑰和豆芽,他一点也不觉得,上述说法与它们是在工厂里炮制出来这点有何矛盾,也不觉得这些饰品与自己的光头有什么不搭调。

 

"This is for the kids," he said, "I'm too old."

"这是给孩子们玩的,"他说。"我太老了。"

 

To be sure, most of the wearers are in their teens or twenties. And the spread of the head decorations reflects a China in which the Internet has lubricated the spread of trends, as well as rumors and ideas, among youth, and expanded opportunities to profit from fads.

没错,大部分佩戴者是十几岁、二十多岁的年轻人。这些头饰的流行反映出,在中国,互联网会促进流行趋势、传言和观念在年轻人当中的传播,也增加了从这些一时的热潮中获利的机会。

 

"I think this comes more from Western culture," said Qiu Chuanhuan, a student at a college in southern China, who was visiting Beijing. He wore two bean sprouts and a gourd atop his mop of hair while strolling through South Luogu Lane, a once-hip neighborhood in Beijing that has been inundated by tourists, and headwear sellers.

"我觉得这种东西更多来自于西方文化,"来自南部一所大学、正在北京旅游的学生裘川桓(音)说。他正在南锣鼓巷闲逛,蓬乱的头发上别着两个豆芽发卡和一个葫芦发卡。南锣鼓巷一度是个非常时髦的区域,但如今挤满了游客和卖头饰的小贩。

 

"Chinese people usually aren't so comfortable standing out as individuals," Mr. Qiu said, "but now we're more open and willing to stand out."

"中国人通常不太习惯于特立独行,"裘川桓说,"但我们现在更加开放,更愿意突显自我。"

 

If head plants speak to individualism, it is a mass-scale variety. Taobao, a popular Chinese retail website, lists thousands of sellers who have engaged in an arms race of selling increasingly elaborate floral head displays for increasingly low prices. On the streets around tourist sites here, competition between shouting hawkers was ferocious.

如果说头戴植物饰品代表个性,那它也是一种成规模的多样化。中国热门零售网站淘宝列出了数以千计的卖家,它们竞相以越来越低的价格销售越来越复杂的植物头饰。在北京的旅游景区附近的街道上,叫卖的小商贩之间竞争得很厉害。

 

"I sold 60 or 70 sets yesterday, but I think it won't last much longer," said Zhou Delai, a hawker. "Now we're also selling a national flag hair clip for National Day."

"我昨天卖了六七十套,但我觉得这种情况不会持续很长时间,"小贩周德来(音)说。"现在是国庆节,我们也卖一种国旗发卡。"

 

And where one hair clip sold for five renminbi, or 80 cents, just a few weeks ago, competition has driven down prices to three or four for 80 cents.

一个发卡一周前还能卖到五元,现在已经因为竞争太厉害而降到三四个一起卖五元。

 

But Li Jinghua, a hawker selling floral head decorations near the Forbidden City, said the trinkets may still have a world to conquer.

但是,在故宫附近卖植物头饰的小贩李京华(音)表示,这些小装饰物可能还有全世界可以去征服。

 

"Does your country have this yet?" she asked. "It will certainly spread abroad."

"你们国家有这东西了吗?"她问道。"它肯定会传到国外的。"

2016-06-23

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