By Saga May 16, 2013 in Growing Up

Tags: gaofushuai, teenagers, Saga

Women all over the world have different tastes in men. And in English we’ve coined the phrase “tall, dark and handsome” as one type of ideal man. They have the same thing in China, too. Here he can be summarized in three characters: “高”, “富” and “帅” or in the phrase 高富帅 (gaofushuai). This literally translates as tall, rich and handsome.

Connected to the image of a gaofushuai is “youche, youfang” or a man with a car and a house/apartment. Sometimes you see women who have successfully nabbed their dream guy. These glamorous couples are usually cruising down Huaihai Lu in their sports car or buying fancy clothes in a small boutique on Changle Lu. The question, “Would you rather be happy on a bicycle or cry in a Porsche?” usually serves as the plot in movies and tv-shows. In the plays that I’ve seen in Shanghai, the romantic comedies always have the woman choose between the rich, serious boyfriend and the poor, jolly neighbor. She usually goes for the jolly neighbor. 

Of course the gaofushuai is, for most women, not a preference at all. Shanghai is actually known for its tough, independent working women and Shanghainese men are known for being good house-husbands. Of course I don’t know if this is true. In my class we don’t pay attention to this so much because, for us, money, apartments and cars feel decades away. Students are content with being poor. So we focus more on the “gao” and the “shuai” in the gaofushuai.

A girl in my class has decided she wants a boyfriend who is 179 cm. That way, he is taller than her even if she wears high heels. Another friend of mine said she is only interested in guys with long wavy hair -- unfortunately for her, long hair for guys is banned in our school. But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming of Korean pop-stars and Taiwanese actors. Once the entire school watched the kung-fu movie “Ip Man 2” in the gym and all the females broke out in hysterical screams every time Huang Xiaoming appeared on the big screen. There are about 1,000 girls in my school so that was a lot of screaming.

But our dreams of a gaofushuai will probably remain that way: just a dream. Once I was in Starbucks and overheard a girl speaking to her friend. When she was younger, she said, she always thought it was vital to find the ultimate gaofushuai. When she got older she realized it didn’t work that way at all. Instead, the best guy was, surprise surprise, someone who was kind and compatible. But that doesn’t mean we can’t drool over Japanese boy-bands or scream bloody murder when our favorite Cantonese star kicks some British butt (the primary plot-line of “Ip Man 2”).

I can’t blame the girls in my school for screaming. I am not Huang Xiaoming’s biggest fan, but there are a lot of Asian stars who are very good-looking. If you think Psy and his horse-riding antics is all Asia has to show for itself, it’s eye-opening to spend two years with a group of giggling Chinese girls. If we had it our way, People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” list would include a lot more men who grew up on pot-noodles and kimchi. There would be a lot less of Ryan Reynolds on our list.

I’m thinking of taking a survey with my friends to see which men they’d pick for their top 10 sexiest men alive. So look out for that.



Ronni says: May 16, 2013
You always have a line or two that I can't stop laughing about, and this is hilarious: If we had it our way, People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” list would include a lot more men who grew up on pot-noodles and kimchi.

Interesting article and finding a mate is tough for young men in particular it seems. I've talked to taxi drivers and guards with 20-something sons, and young hair stylists who all complain they can't find a girlfriend easily because the girls want too much.
leemack says: May 17, 2013
I'm still trying to figure out why my Shanghainese wife married me: tall yes, handsome of course, but nothing else!
victoryl says: May 17, 2013
To marry a foreign man is a boast of a lot of Shanghainese girls itself. Sorry, I don't mean your wife..
In many Shanghainese mind, foreign man is rich-at least more money than Chinese same age man. Also girls who marry foreigners could immigrate easily and they are also feeling "You mian zi"- could be dignity among their relatives.

celiathaysen says: January 8, 2014
Haha! Interesting to see this piece by Saga trending again. Could it be that with the start of the New Year, teen readers are reassessing the main man in their life to see if they are gao, fu or shuai enough?

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