My niece sent me a link to an article discussing young girls who are posing in an auto show in China. I found the story deeply disturbing, and was not sure whether to write about it, nor to engage in the discussion. But I can’t resist, this is too crazy! When I first blogged about the world of children beauty pageants, it was as a spontaneous reaction from the disturbing headline of Peoples Magazine, “Have they gone too far?” This was over a year ago, and I thought the topic was disturbing and dangerous. And now I’m really shocked, what are we willing to observe and just let it evolve?
The organizers of a the controversial auto show in which girls as young as 5 paraded in bikinis has dismissed criticism from netizens, are defending themselves saying such events are “natural” and common in China.
Photos of young girls posing in swimwear at the Chutian Auto Culture Festival in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Friday, have been widely circulated and discussed online.
Many Web users expressed anger at the hosts and parents, accusing them of exploiting the children for profit.
However, Zhang Ping, general manager of the event’s organizers, 7-Wind Model Costume Co, said the goal was purely to help the children “boost their courage” and no organization or individual made money from the show.
“If you type the key words ‘children’ and ‘bikini’ into an Internet search engine, you’ll find tens of thousands of results for child bikini contests,” she said on Sunday. “It’s natural for kids to wear bikinis and other things they like.”
She said only two 5-year-olds wore bikinis, both with the permission of their parents.
The company has hosted several child-modeling competitions, none of which have drawn such criticism, Zhang said, although she conceded that auto show models have become a sensitive topic.
“But the public should not be fussy, as it’s natural for children to wear bikinis at modeling contests,” Zhang said.
Shang Xiaoyuan, a professor at Beijing Normal University and an expert on child welfare, said she believes having a child expose their body in public is offensive. “Auto shows try too hard to attract customers with sexy, female models, which sends a negative message that the female form is a marketing tool,” she said. “When children appear at auto shows posing in bikinis, it implants such an idea in their minds and is harmful for their development.”
Tong Xiaojun, a specialist in child rights at China Youth University for Political Sciences, agreed, and added that the auto shows set a bad example for children about what is proper behaviour in public.
“It ruins children’s innocence, and it has blurred the boundary for what children should be taught to do and what they should not at a certain age,” she said.
However, organizer Zhang said the publishing of the pictures online had potentially done more harm than the show itself.
Chen Ling, 33, whose 5-year-old daughter participated in the contest but did not wear a bikini, said her life has been disturbed after her daughter’s photos were uploaded together with girls in bikinis.
“Some netizens criticized us parents and claimed children’s rights, but it was they who hurt the children by uploading the girls’ photos without taking measures to conceal their identities, such as covering their faces,” she said. Chen said some netizens used vulgar language in comments on her daughter’s micro blog after the incident. “I don’t understand why there are so many bored people saying disgusting words,” she said.
Well, there were no concealing of the children’s identity at the actual show, and that’s where the real harm is done. Why do we need five year olds in bikinis at a car show?
Monday was my last day with my hand in a cast, and I was ever so happy to get rid of the bandage. I was also looking forward to get down to writing again these last five weeks have been difficult, I kind of lost my focus. Even though I had prepared myself to the fact that my hand might not be “good as new” I was fairly disappointed Monday night. I could barely move my fingers, and the acing was increasing. I was still bleeding from the two operation wounds, and I was feeling quite miserable. So I had to do something that could make my world better: I started writing again. Yes.
Well, the first night, I wrote 27 words. And I decided on my main characters names and age. Tuesday I wrote about a 100 words, and renamed my main characters. Yesterday I cut about thirty words of what I had wrote the previous day, and I went back to the original chosen names.
Today I’ve written close to 1500 words.
What happened? Well, I understood I was afraid of using my hand, and mostly unable to do so. So I needed something else to inspire my writing, and I went back to reading some of the advices that are offered us on the internet.
My new book is a children’s book. So it might seem strange that I turn to Elmore Leonard for advice, but that was my intent. To challenge myself and my writing!
There is no greater writer of crime fiction than Elmore Leonard, and no one who has more resplendent energy. Leonard has had the classic career of a market-oriented novelist, and he really knows what he is talking about.
HERE ARE HIS RULES:
1 Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.
2 Avoid prologues: they can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’sSweet Thursday, but it’s OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”
3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But “said” is far less intrusive than “grumbled”, “gasped”, “cautioned”, “lied”. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated” and had to stop reading and go to the dictionary.
4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs”.
5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.
6 Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”. This rule doesn’t require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use “suddenly” tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.
7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavour of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories Close Range.
8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters, which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”, what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story.
9 Don’t go into great detail describing places and things, unless you’re Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language. You don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.
My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
I’ve found this article on http://www.guardian.co.uk
Thank you Elmore Leonard, I’m writing again 🙂
Since my hand still is hurting, and the new cast makes it pretty difficult to write, this will be a post where I’ll use photos from my beach minutes earlier today.
I find it much easier to write with a stick in sand, these days, than on a computer… So even when it’s said that we shouldn’t write in sand, I did just that, and I think my iPhone made some good photos…
Uwana wrote this great blog post that even got freshly pressed, where she asked the question: “Do you say hi to everyone you meet?” Her reason for asking is her lovely two year old, who flashes her smile and say “hieee” to everyone she meets. Taking a look at the society around her, Uwana asks the very important question:
It was such a great post, and left me thinking. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that the reason that I may be suspicious of friendliness stems from a fear of rejection. I think most people are scared of rejection, and that might stop one from saying “hi” to everyone that passes by.
I spent last week together with my best friend and her cute children age 1 and 3, and I was asking myself the same questions as Uwana did in her post. I was facinated to watch the 3 year old strike up conversations with complete strangers so easily and naturally. I admire the openness in her and pray that she’ll never change. At the same time this infinite openness and trust in every stranger alarm me and I keep asking myself when and how do we bring up the fact that not all people are good and that you should exercise some caution when approaching strangers? I would hate destroying her innocence and planting fear in her, but perhaps that’s what happened to us? Maybe our parent’s serious conversation is what happens between childhood and adulthood…
Another aspect that occurs as we grow out of the playground and into real world is pain, unfortunately. I think we often guard our hearts because past experiences have taught us that not doing so leads to pain. Even though this is true for most people, I do believe in the small act of kindness, and I think saying hello might turn a bad day around. When I did my random act of kindness project in August, I experienced this several times. It might seem naïve and almost stupid to keep looking at the world with the eyes of a child. What I know for sure is that when we hang on to our pain we’re only punishing ourselves. We potentially miss out on so many great things due to fear of being hurt.
That’s why I’m so inspired by what Uwana brought up in her post. I agree with her, and I will try greeting life enthusiastically, with a smile on my face!