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Why Chinese Girls Wear Rubbish Underwear?

Chinese UnderwearThe title of this post is inspired by one blog reader who left comments to the poll that compared Chinese and Western women wearing cheongsam (qipao).

Let me quote that comment:
“Crystal, you should do a post on why Chinese women wear such rubbish underwear. This is an area where most Western women are far ahead.”

To which another reader replied:
“Yeah, I have to agree <…> the choices for lingerie in China are awful.
<…> even in Shanghai, the Victoria’s Secret shop is a joke <…> every time I go back to the US, I make a special shopping trip just for lingerie for my girlfriend. Now she won’t wear anything else. Oh, and, Chinese girls, just a tip–I know you like red, but red underwear doesn’t make you look sophisticated, it makes you look older. Black or another color to go with your skin. Please.”

I wrote down the note to myself to return to this topic later, and this is what I am doing now. However, I am not a fashion critic and will only describe my own experience and some things that I noticed watching my friends. And you are free to make conclusions.

First of all, it’s natural that any girl’s understanding about fashion is primarily formed through observation of her mother. In reality, the generation of our mothers not only has a very different opinion about intimate clothing, but years ago they didn’t have any decent choice of underwear. Thus, they hardly can serve as role models in this aspect of fashion.

Whenever my mom saw me changing clothes, she would always say something like – “I can’t understand why you buy such small underwear. Half of your butt is outside. Why don’t you buy bigger and more comfortable undies?” I would usually rebut noticing that her underwear would fit to be my shorts. Actually, many of my friends confirmed that they have similar misunderstandings with their mothers. So, we have to figure out the fashion rules by ourselves (with the help of friends and media).

Matching Underwear

If you like this outfit - let me know, and I will tell you where to buy it ;-)

As for media, one who saw some Korean, Chinese or Japanese series and advertisements won’t be surprised why we like childish patterns on all kind of clothes and accessories (including underwear). These patterns come in different flavors: bunnies, pigs, funny faces, cartoons, hearts etc. And to make it even cuter such outfit sometimes comes in pairs (for males and females).

Of course, we have shops specializing in sexy lingerie and other intimate clothing. But only brave Chinese girls would consider buying the daring outfit. Here works the same logic as with the usage of contraceptives: being sexy is the same as admitting to have sex; and although everyone does it, nobody talks about it. So, very often girls would pass by the windows of these shops, exchange few comments (“How can people wear something like that?”) and embarrassingly giggle.

My friend M. is a good example of traditional Chinese girl. When I used to visit her, I often stayed to sleep at her house. Few times I could see her underwear when she changed the clothes or washed them. And I paid attention that all of them looked pretty much the same: white cotton underwear fully wrapping the bottom. I asked her if she had other style. “No” – she answered – “I like this color. Also they are convenient and not visible under light-colored trousers.”
So I asked if she would consider to wear T-back underwear or strings for her husband. “Are you kidding?” – she said – “I am not that kind of girl. And, besides, silk and lace are not healthy.”

Other girl was brave enough to experiment but encountered a totally unexpected kind of trouble. Let’s call her S. She is a close friend of my fiance’s ex-girlfriend, Christine. One day S. complained to Christine about pains “down there”. It’s worth to note that she is a good-hearted but somewhat… err… naive girl. So, Christine – being a true friend – decided to take her to a good gynecologist she knew. After examination, doctor took Christine aside and tactfully asked whether she knows if S. lately had some violent/unpleasant experience (read – rape).

Christine interrogated her friend and found out that few days ago she for the first time bought new sexy string underwear (you know, with such super-narrow rear part). And somehow she got confused between front and back…

Underwear Cartoon

Of course, such naivety is extraordinary but it demonstrates the possibility of awkward situations related to intimate topics, when one is eager to try out something new without knowing exactly how to do it. However, even knowledge doesn’t guarantee the desired outcome.

When I lived in Chongqing, I always liked to buy underwear in one specific shop. So, I got to know the salesgirl working there. One time she complained that her own encounter with sexy underwear was unsuccessful.
She bought it in order to make a pleasant surprise for her husband. When he came back home and entered the bedroom, he found his wife lying on bed, dressed in bra and G-string underwear. She said something sexy to greet him, but instead of engaging in the game the husband was stunned and just said: “What are you doing? Are you mad?”

Before you make the conclusion that it is hopeless to expect us to wear nice and sexy underwear, let me remind that Chinese girls are very fashion- and appearance-conscious. The only reason why our intimate wardrobe is not as rich as that of Western girls is the lack of exposure. But if the boyfriend/husband of Chinese woman shows sincere interest and tact, he will be surprised how quickly she expands her horizons beyond any expectations.

Finally, let me explain few things regarding the red color. There are at least two reasons why Chinese would wear red underwear.
Firstly, red color is the symbol of luck and happiness. And, by the way, many Chinese men who like to gamble make sure to wear red underwear when playing.
Second reason is related to zodiacs. As you know every year in Chinese calendar is linked with some animal. These zodiacs repeat each 12 years.
Chinese believe that for a person who was born in the year of the same zodiac as the current year, it can be unlucky (that is when he/she is 12, 24, 36 and so on). So, in order to repel bad luck and evils, people would prepare a big stock of red underwear and use it during the “unlucky” year.

I wish, however, that in 2011 even Rabbits would avoid bad luck without worrying about the color of their underwear.

Not superstitious Crystal Tao

  • WanderingAmerican

    I like the underwear my girlfriend wears. Very sexy. :mrgreen:

    • Crystal

      Since this is an educational blog – we need a more detailed description! ;-)

  • michel

    Nice article!
    sincerely I thought the year of the your zodiac will be a lucky year … weird :D
    Also I want to comment about I heard that chinese people don t wash their underwear in the washer but by hands, and everyone wash their own underwear. Feel weird about it.

    • Crystal

      There is truth in your statement.

      Firstly, any clothes made of delicate material are better to wash by hands than in washing machine.

      The second thing (for which I even had a fight with my fiance when we started living together) is related to the kind of clothes that you mix together when washing. I sincerely feel “thrilled” just thinking that socks would be washed together with other clothes (especially intimate clothing).

      Finally, I can tell you that even doctors in China advise to wash underwear with hands and soap.

      • michel

        yeah obviously it s true, I had to experience it! force to wash my underwear by hands! ahahah.. weird :D
        obviously it s better to wash by hand when it s delicate, but most guys underwear are good to go to the washer :P
        And I even feel it will be more clean to put in a washer than to wash by hand
        The second thing, solution to your issue, have intimate clothing more delicate or different color that socks!
        I don t trust doctors about habits, you see another doctor in another country, another time they will tell you different stuff.(exemple: how you put the baby when he sleep , on the back, on the side etc? different period have different habits) . Doctors are just good when you are ill.

    • SB

      My girlfriend always washed her underwear by hand growing up because she washed EVERYTHING by hand growing up. Her family is too poor to afford a washing machine and wouldn’t have the space for one anyway. Now she loves all the labor saving devices that everyone has in the States. I taught her how to use the dishwasher and she took to it like a fish to water, though her friends say she’s gotten even lazier because of me.

  • WoAi

    All I would add is that if girls are years behind in underwear in China, my guess is the men are decades behind. At least in the clubs I see many girls in Shanghai wearing and displaying T-backs and G-strings above their waistline for all to see.

  • Meng

    LOL–wow–of all the things I’ve written on this site, I never imagined it would be my comment about Victoria’s Secret and red lingerie that would be quoted.

    Firstly, I have to say, my girlfriend, who is Chinese, doesn’t wear Victoria’s Secret because it’s sexy, although it is. She actually prefers to wear it because it is, according to her, much more comfortable. So much Chinese lingerie is made for women with no shape–no hips, no ass, nothing. The underwire bras are made so poorly that I’m glad I don’t have to squeeze into one of those things everyday. Chinese folk wear American (albeit often manufactured in China) clothing everywhere else on their bodies, why not underwear? It’s more comfortable, looks better, and is generally the same price.

    As far as red underwear is concerned, yes, I know about the tradition of red clothing. My girlfriend made me wear red socks for a week around New Year (1975年生的,兔子年). I understand that Chinese folk are more religious than they think (you can call it tradition, but rituals as such are religion), but this is 2011. You can wear what you want during the special religious festivals, but the rest of the year, what’s the excuse? I still insist that red is not as sexy as so many Chinese girls think it is. Maybe a dark red, like past burgundy, but no light red. Is there anybody here who will dispute me when I iterate that black is the sexiest color?

    It’s not hopeless to expect Chinese women to wear sexy lingerie; it is actually becoming more and more commonplace. I’m hoping that silly ideas like “silk and lace are not healthy,” will faze out. I hope you informed your friend, Crystal, that such an idea is ludicrous, and she’s just as safe wearing cotton undies as she is in rayon. I don’t know what “that kind of girl” is, since there as just as many strumpets wearing granny panties as there are sporting thongs. I also have to say– the guy who came home to find his wife in sexy lingerie and was horrified– is an idiot. Oh yeah, and I don’t care what Chinese “doctors” say, you don’t need to wash your underwear with your hands. It’s a good idea, but only to preserve the softness of the fabric, not for some other silly idea.

  • cellar

    okay this post is really funny and i’m still laughing

    i’m chinese by looks and yes my mother was always buying under wear without consulting me first.

    each time, the underwear she bought for me was bigger than my rear rend. It was like wearing grandma under pants because it was a bigger size and the elastic around the legs got loose quickly in time after being worn so many times… i kept getting wedges. it’s not funny when i’m the one wearing it.

    black/white boy shorts style under wear rules!!!

  • SB

    I convinced my girlfriend to get a professional bra fitting at a department store because all the ones she brought with her from China were falling apart and way too small besides. It turns out that she didn’t know her size because she’d never actually brought her own bras before, it was usually her mother who would get them for her. She now has a selection of new bras that are much cuter than the ones she brought from China and actually fit on top of that.

  • vanilla

    We don’t put underwear in washing machine is to avoid bacterium from socks and washing machine itself. so wash by hands and put under sun seems more safe. Yes, many Chinese girl have red underwear and the age under 25 or even more than 25 buy very cheap bra and udnerwear. One good brand cost about RMB300. It’s too much to young girls.

    • Meng


      I’ve heard this before and, I’m sorry, but it’s really just an urban myth. First of all, you’re not (I hope) dumping huge buckets of bodily fluids into your underwear on a daily basis, so there’s really no more bacteria in them than in the rest of your clothing. Second, how is it safe to wash with your hands? If they really are covered in bacteria, you should be washing in a machine because you don’t want to get that on your hands. If you do, you should wear rubber gloves and wash them in boiling water. Really, it’s ridiculous. Also, what bacteria is the sun going to kill? What, because it’s warm? Silly. Because of photogenesis? There is absolutely no danger in machine-washing your underwear. As I stated before, the only reason to hand-wash undergarments is to preserve the softness of the fabric. That is a fact.

      I understand that Chinese traditional medicine says to do these things, but it’s just fallacious. You know, on one side you have 5000-year old Chinese traditional medicine, and on the other side you have SCIENCE and FACTS.

      300 rmb is obviously too much for young girls. In the US, Victoria’s Secret sells tons of great, good-looking, comfortable underwear that will last for years for as little as $3/pair. That’s like 20 rmb.

      • Teacher in China

        I personally only wash my underwear in a forest stream with fresh mountain water and rose petals. I then get some unicorns to blow on it until it is somewhat dry. The final drying, of course, I leave to the heavenly light of the angels.

        Only do this, of course, because that’s what it takes to expel the demonic nature inherent in my underwear.

        • Crystal

          I bet that near that forest stream grow some wonderful mushrooms.

          • Teacher in China

            Don’t eat them, they’re poisonous!! :shock:

        • Jia Jia

          oh my god, i just choked on my rice. LMAO.

      • vanilla

        I know it’s ok for man. I want to know if western girls all wash by washing machine or just western men? How your current Chinese girl friend wash her underwear? Does she accept your point?

        • scarlet

          Yes, western girls all use washing machines to wash their underwear. Some particularly delicate lace panties might be hand washed, but that is because washing machines can be violent. Plain cotton is never hand washed.

          I am not sure about his Chinese girlfriend, but in my experience, Chinese girlfriends do not accept their boyfriend’s views about domestic issues at all. He is probably called a stupid pig and has his mother insulted for teaching him like that.

  • pegobserver

    Well, I hope that the trend of thong underwear doesn’t catch on like it has here. I’m one guy who finds it extremely unattractive.

    • Bored in Melbourne

      Crystal sorry I was too busy (Lazy) to write this post after you suggested I did some time ago.

      I have been disappointed several times with the poor choices that otherwise sexy and attractive Chinese girls make for underwear. The normal problem is the large granny knickers and the total ignorance of the need to stimulate some desire in the man they want to be with. Haven’t they heard about visual seduction? Sure they might want to appear not to be bad women, but please be practical girls…

      The next one is the refusal to try wear a really sexy outfit like a corset, teddy, let alone a simple g-string which in my observation is basically designed for a sexy little backside, in other words a Chinese woman. They rarely look as good on a western woman. I bought my ex about 6 g-strings, she tried them on and liked them, admired the sight of her own little bum in the mirror and then I NEVER saw them again! What a strange woman, who did she think I bought them for? Of course it was a gift to myself as is every lingerie purchase.

      The next trouble is the bra. The smaller busted Chinese girls seem to be addicted to the formed cup bra which is not supporting their breasts and just creating a shape under their top, normally giving a false impression that they have much bigger breasts than reality, but in the end supporting nothing, they would be better off with no underwear at all.

      Now that’s a suggestion…

    • Bored in Melbourne

      pegobserver, you might find that you are alone on that one. The Asian bum is made for a thong.

  • Meng

    Has anybody seen the padded panties over here? Like a padded bra, but it gives the illusion that they have an ass. My girlfriend has pointed them out to me on taobao as a joke. I’m sorry, Bored, but most Chinese girls really don’t have it going on in back. How many times have I thought I was walking behind a Chinese guy only to find out it was a woman? Personally, I can’t hang. I prefer women that have the bodies of women rather than the bodies of little boys, but that’s just me.

    • Bored in Melbourne

      Meng the solution to that one is easy, get them to do some exercise like running. I go for a run a few times a week to stay in shape now that I am in my mid 30s and after my girl also in her 30s started to join me the shape of her bum changed from the common flat spot that you see on many Chinese girls (really no shape, just the bit where the legs meet the torso), to a real shape and the visual appeal to her is good enough to ensure she continues.

      The bonus for me is that she looks better, feels better, and has a lot more energy for other things, ahem…

      The Asian ‘boy like’ shape is not a permanent curse if you find a girl willing to look after herself.

      • Meng

        You’re absolutely right, Bored, you don’t have to tell me– I teach weightlifting. The most important exercise in the gym is the squat, which gets all up into the glutes. After that is the deadlift, and if you do the Romanian deadlift it also gets all up in there. I’m 35 and I hit the gym 4-5 times a week, and my Chinese girlfriend comes with me 3-4 times a week (although she’s not there to get ripped like I am).

        What’s funny is that she is now in better shape than the trainers who actually work at the gym. No, seriously. This point is evidence to me that most Chinese folk know very little about real exercise. The trainers ONLY do bench press, nothing else. I tell them that their strength is absolutely useless because they only do one exercise. They’re a bunch of peacocks with tiny little chopstick legs. I tell them constantly that they should start at the squat rack because it is a total body exercise and then move on, but they just want to look big. What ends up happening is that my girlfriend comes in and trains properly and, without getting big and strong, she still is stronger overall than the trainers.

        We were in there once and a trainer was demonstrating how to do squat for a member, and he was straining and groaning through 6 reps of a very light weight. Then my girlfriend went over, put MORE weight on, and did 3 sets of 10 reps each, very calmly and smoothly. The trainer turned so red he looked like he was going to cry. She’s not a lifter, I mean she’s not all muscly, but she is in incredible shape. I’ve also been teaching her yoga (I’ve been practicing for almost 30 years), but she’s already been doing that herself for 6 years so everything is nice and limber.

        What’s also funny is that I’ve been told straight up by tons of Chinese girls that also exercise that they’re tired of Chinese boys because they hate having to protect their boyfriend like he’s a little girl. Not my words, theirs.

        Diet is also a huge concern. Not too much rice, but some. Protein. Vegetables. All sorts of things that most folk here know very little about. I’m not saying this to be mean, I’m saying this because most folk here think that eggs are vegetables. I know more about nutrition, but it’s my girlfriend that actually pays more attention to making sure she has a proper diet. Not an ounce of fat on that one.

        Getting back to the point, yes, exercise is a great way to fight the little boy body syndrome, but most don’t. Most Chinese girls think exercise is bad. They want to be as skinny as possible. I’ve been told by several Chinese girls that they don’t exercise because they don’t want to be stronger than their boyfriends. How many Chinese girls have you seen that are so out of shape that they can’t walk up a flight of stairs? Or down? Have you seen the girls whose knees wobble as they walk downstairs, or have to walk sideways? Yuck. I’d be afraid to break such a girl. Give me a girl that’s not made of porcelain, thanks.

  • vanilla

    hehe, i will have a try.

  • Bored in Melbourne

    Meng I put the excuses for not doing exercise down to pure laziness. There is a spoilt generation that would be happy to hire someone to go to the gym for them if they could.

    Those weak and feeble girls are no more attractive than the boys who think they are men. I also found from feedback wh I carry my girl that none of her previous partners ever had the strength to do that and she surely enjoys a bit of manly behaviour.

    Back on topic I think that to some degree in Asian women Chinese are the worst in the unsexy underwear stakes. Japanese in my narrow experience have a better grasp on the seductive underwear business.

    Considering almost all the sexy underwear is made in China anyway you’d think they would keep some for themselves

  • Gougou

    It’s true–Chinese girls usually have very plain underwear. I used to buy my ex-girlfriend in Nanjing Victoria’s Secret panties all the time. I probably bought her about 60 panties. Hand-washing?–I happily hand-washed them for her. She loved it! Everytime she pulled up her panties she thought of me. Many of you will think this is weird, but “different strokes for different folks”–it made us both happy!

  • Crystal
  • Bored in Melbourne

    Crystal I was just about to post that link myself as once again it features the typical unattractive underwear common to Chinese girls. They just need a lesson in sexy, that is NOT sexy

    • Meng

      I have to agree, the color is all wrong for anybody, and really bad with her skin tone, not to mention that she’s practically wearing granny panties. I’m more drawn to the fact that she has a navel piercing. It just clashes with the old school lingerie thing she’s got going on. I’m guessing/hoping she wears much sexier stuff for her boyfriend.

  • Caseyorourke

    My wife likes the skimpy colorfulunderwear, and I like the way she looks in them. But, laundry in our family is usually my job and as far as I’m not about to do any extra loads if I can avoid them, socks and underwear (mine and hers) are washed in the same load. All she cars about is that it’s clean, cause the only person to see her in them is me and she always looks good to me.

  • doc

    in my opinion underwear should just to be conformable. Since it will either not to seen, or when seen, be removed (very) quickly.

  • Valentine

    phahahaha … handwashing yeah right … everything in the washing mashine for me well i wouldnt mind to to take turns of washing the underwear but only on the condition that i will do it the first 25 years and then she wil do it the second 25 years … i wouldnt want to wash grany pantys … something more i wached somewere that chinese ppl dont want girls for kids .. :S well i wouldn mind but becoase im a big perv im afraid :D :D but well knowing my self if the fatherhood visits me ill be reborn emideately …

    i wonder the washing isue about underwear is world wide ….. i remember wen i was 16 i had a colegue in the resturant i was helping she was a hot chick on an discusion with all the servis staf she said that she was washing hur underwear by hand and that after drying it steaming it with the iron (duno the english word) i was small then didnt know anything :D well today with my lazynes my clothes dont even reach the garderobe i put them on me the moment i take them from the drying stand :D exept for the underwear wich i steam …

    well why dont manufacturers of washing mashines dont make a 5-10 mins short program for desinfection (so to say) with boiling water and then a 20 mins short program especialy for underwear ….

    by the way we keep our old washing mashine for the shoes :D :D its prety useful you take an old swicher fill it with the shoes tie it up and put it in the washing mashine for the longest program :D then go away to avoid the anoing noise ….

    for the man wich was suprised in his home with a nice pair of sexy underwear on top of his wife …. well he is crazy indid but she is to if she doesnt understand him so long as she have lived with him … wen you understand your partner there are another ways to provoke him and his sexual desires … i would definetly prefer hur to weit for me naked but there is the big diferense in the nude and not the underwear is like the flowers its part of the whole in the relationship … on my way home there are many street bush’s of roses but its diferent to take one of those and buy a beatyfull one from the shop right ? well its not allways the meaning of something to be beatyfull its also to be able to be apriciated … wat’s the point if i have some expensive wine and i drink it wen i cant apriciate its taste :D i prefer drinking malamatina atleast i can understand the not so complicated meanings and reasons and so im able to enjoy ….

    by the way a curse of mine most of my life i was treated like gay from the girls damn them .. so once a girl run from home and came to mine (in wich i lived alone) she stayed a week but she didnt bring clothes with hur so she used mine … well the isue is here one morning as many as you thing i must have saw hur wearing one of my shirts wile naked
    WRONG she had weared one pair of shorts wich i had received for a birthday :D :D cuz i hate shorts i didnt even took them out of the plastic bag i just put them in the draw :D well i must say a saxy woman is sexy even in the sily look of being in mans shots and nothing more …
    later i remembered that she was present wen i received the gift and the sentense of mu worls saying that i wil neever put them on cuz i dont wear shorts nor slipers but boxers

  • Peter

    I’m an Indian and have had a few Chinese girl friends over the years. Very lovely & faithful girls. Most of them wore conservative red panties. One of them almost exclusively wore red bra and panties. I didn’t find it strange at all. She of course had several sets and always washed them separately by hand.

  • Ryan

    I like the conservative style panties that Chinese and other Asian women wear. Panties are still panties in asian culture. Lots of bikini and high cut styles in sexy fabric like nylon and satin. Asian women also tend to have VPL which I really think is sexy. Western fashion culture has really destroyed the lure of undergarments with the advent of thongs and boyshorts. It’s really a shame.

  • John

    Personally I find the words ‘sexy underwear’ quite a bit of an oxymoron. If the underwear doesn’t come from somewhere like Frederick’s of Hollywood or Janet Reger, then it might as well be Millett’s (well-known purveyor of tents).

    Best colours for Chinese skin tones are various shades of blue.

    Most if not all underwear I’ve seen on sale in China is really terrible – bras like body armour, and bloomers. I’m not quite sure where the idea that underwear is sexy came from, must be some sort of marketing idea. Like has been said, in the south most girls don’t have any bust, in fact their whole upper body is undeveloped, so they adopt a rubber construction to try to promote the lie. Why? It’s just another manifestation of their desire to look like a Hollywood star, and about as sexy as their bizarre orange hair.

    Ditto swimming costumes – no way could I use the word bikini. If you can, click on the link lower right for the Jiangsu bikini competition to see what I mean. Huge flaps of unsexy body armour. [Fittingly enough, I am in Jiangsu, but of course any web site with the word ‘blog’ included in its name doesn’t get past the Great Firewall of China (GFW). But I did see it when I was back in UK in July.]