Bridge (or Runway?) Between East and West

Much has been made about the upcoming Olympics in Beijing and the question of Chinese image or face. And part of the exercise of manufacturing image has been the steady barrage of press releases from BOCOG and wire stories from Xinhua. Consider the following excerpts from the Xinhua story "Chinese college beauties leave boot camp to be Olympic hostesses" as a ironic look at the question of face as presented to the rest of the world, which has its own problematic relations with desire:

The Dreaming Face

"I've always dreamed of being a guide hostess for the table tennis athletes at the Olympic venue," said Yang Xu, 19, one of the 300-odd young women selected from more than 5,000 candidates in Beijing and Shanghai colleges as part of the Olympic volunteers.

Just like others, the slim, 170 cm tall Yang has been trained for three short terms with five kinds of courses, including body-shaping exercises, dancing, manners, ceremony processes and basic Olympic-related knowledge.

The Enjoying Face

The beauties had fought off furious competition to secure their chance to "enjoy the beautiful suffering" in the temporary "charm school", a vocational school in Beijing's northern Changping District.

The Rationalized Face

All the girls were picked by experts from various professions, including models, body-shaping teachers, journalists, singers, dancers and athletes, based on specific standards of their body shapes and facial features, Wang said.

A hostess needs to be a college student with good education background. She needs to be between 168 to 175 cm and good looking, which was specified in statistics of the sizes of bust, waist, hip and even mouth, nose, and eye, Wang said, but she refused to reveal the numbers.

The Smiling Face

The training was hard work but there were lighter moments, said the elder sister Li Ziye.

She said they were trained to smile with eight teeth exposed and look at the camera flashes without blinking.

"We should not blink even if tears come out," Li Ziye said, with eyes opened wide.

The Traditional Chinese Face

The ceremonies had been designed with many traditional Chinese elements, the deputy division chief Wang Ning said.

The hostesses had been trained to be beauties both inside and outside, Wang said. The young women, with a classical Chinese temperament, would send messages of Chinese implicit beauty in each simple move as taught in the classes, she said.

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