By Barbara Falconer Newhall
Until very recently, when I thought of modern-day China, I didn’t think of fun. I thought of the Cultural Revolution of the ’60s and ’70s, when traditional Chinese men were forced to cut off their queues, and intellectuals were banished to the countryside to till the soil and be reeducated into the proletariat.
I thought of the disastrous Great Leap Forward of the 1950s, when millions of Chinese died of hunger because of Chairman Mao’s top-down agricultural policies.
I thought of gaunt, starving children and a grim, colorless place where everyone was dressed in baggy pants and Mao jackets.
But today’s youngest Chinese — the ones Jon and I saw promenading the affluent streets of Beijing and Shanghai anyway — were anything but gaunt, starving or grim. By the looks of them, the Cultural Revolution of their grandparents’ generation was very much over.
They sported tattoos and trendy sneakers. They carried shopping bags from Forever 21. They wore pink tights, huge hair bows and T-shirts with kitty cats on them. They dyed their hair orange. They flashed the peace sign. They pulled out their cameras and asked to take pictures of themselves with Jon and me.
They were a lot of fun.
Want to see more shoes? Check out Shanghai shoe chic at “Shanghai Chic: Where a Woman’s Style Starts With Her Shoes.” And follow my adventures in shopping for shoes to wear to my son’s wedding at “My Killer Shoes: Brought Down to Size by Those 4 1/2-Inch Heels.”
The Cultural Revolution’s proletariat look — serviceable and shapeless.