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Keailism

Or an apology to cuteness

In Chinese, ‘keai’ 可爱 means cute and ‘keailism’ could be an apology to cuteness, a trend that is somehow observed since many years in Chinese society, mainly among the urban middle class. Cuteness is promoted and consumed, whether these are bunny ears, childish illustrations on an object or cloth, animated smiling characters for a brand, or applications that change one’s face in one of a princess, among many other examples. Cuteness is also an attitude and way of life through gestures, ways of running, talking, writing, whether done naturally or not. When developing products, the keai trend influences designers who in turn develop it even further through advertising and products. In shopping centres, there are even shops submerged of teddies or stuffed animals and other cute trendy objects, not necessarily targeted for children but rather young women.

A state of keailism is not necessarily strange at home, in the private sphere, or even when it is punctual when enjoying a day at Disneyland. Everyone needs a bit of cute absurdity once in a while, but it becomes symptomatic of what a society is becoming when repeatedly detected in daily encounters. Intellectuals as Michel Onfray would say that society is infantilised when at least referring to what he seizes in France, but in China it takes greater proportions. Is it because life has been tough for many decades and when consumerism took over, its excesses induced a whole generation into keailism, a sort of Peter Pan wish not to become an adult anymore? Or is it shaped through these new K-pop cultures? Or is it a sexist misconception of what young women seek to become through their belongings and a distorted stereotype of cuteness and fragileness? 

Posted: December 24th, 2022

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