A woman's way

Updated: 2011-03-13 07:47

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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A woman's way

Xu Wei says the magazine's mission is "always to preach a positive attitude toward life". Provided to China Daily

Cosmo China editor explores modern phenomenon of 'leftover girls' and opportunities for today's readers. Gan Tian reports.

Now we still love to call ourselves girls," Xu Wei tweeted on her Sina Weibo on Tuesday, which happened to be International Women's Day. "'Ladies' are also fine. But 'women' and 'females' sound a little bit old. Do you see the trick hidden in these words?"

As the editor-in-chief of the women's lifestyle magazine Cosmopolitan China, she certainly knows some "women's tricks".

When she chatted recently with Taiwan's famous designer Pao Imin, he told her: "the greatest enjoyment comes from the greatest suffering."  

Xu began to wonder, what enjoyment and sufferings will a female entrepreneur meet in her career?

After a discussion with her editors, she decided to publish a feature on this in Cosmo China's March issue.

"Chinese women were taught to be plain, but it is not the case now. More women began to form their own values. They are more economically independent, they pay attention to their outfits, and they discuss sex without being afraid," Xu observes.

Chinese women are changing rapidly from a traditional image to a modern one. They are in desperate need of "chicken-soup" tips. That's what Xu's magazine offers.

But she was not a natural-born "women's issue expert".

A woman's way 

Cosmo editors regularly debate a hot topic: What kind of woman is more attractive to Chinese men, a sexy queen or a pure Snow White?

A graduate of the school of journalism and communication at Renmin University of China, Xu in 1994 became a reporter at Sanlian Lifeweek, an influential Beijing-based weekly which aimed to become China's Time.

Because the magazine stopped publishing for a while, she looked for other opportunities in 1995. Luckily, she was introduced to Trends magazine (predecessor of Cosmopolitan) in 1995, and that was when another door opened to her.

"I was dealing with serious topics like the hukou issue and economic problems in Sanlian, but the new jobs gave me more chances to discuss issues close to the heart, like what should they do when they find their husband has a lover?"


That was when she grew to understand that, for women, knowing themselves is as important as knowing the world out there.

In 2001, she became the editor-in-chief of Cosmo China. This was when the country's economy was having its fastest growth.

But Xu believes that, for women, the situation brought along both a richer life, and more emotional conflict.

"I met many girls who were born after 1980. They felt they had already failed in life when facing so many fu er dai or guan er dai (those who inherited properties from their rich parents) in the society."

So her magazine ran features like "Work Hard For Your Whole Life, or Marry Up" to explore the issue.

Under her guidance, Cosmo China created a new word "sheng nu", or "leftover girls", in 2006 for the first time, to describe those who have high expectations of finding a husband, but end up being single.

Every Tuesday, she appears in the office, chairing

A woman's way

 a meeting with her editors.

She can't count how many times they've discussed whether or not those "leftover girls" should decrease their expectations and find a just-so-so husband. They also debated hot topics, like what kind of women are more attractive to Chinese men: a sexy queen, or a pure Snow White?

Xu believes there is no correct answer.

No matter if a Chinese woman choose to become an "independent woman" or find a rich husband, or if she becomes a "leftover girl" or not, she should always follow her heart and pursue her dreams, Xu says.

"Our mission is always to preach a positive attitude toward life."

Personally, she also benefits from what she learns on the job. As a mother of a son, she also tries to balance her job and family.

"The more I work on Cosmo, the more things I find I should learn," she adds.


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