Chinese women, like women worldwide, are obsessed with losing weight, and one sign of get-thin thinking is the popularity of diet and exercise blogs. Some call them embarrassing, others call them a riveting and a useful way to fight fat.
Many people say that losing weight and keeping it off require a lifetime of dedication, even passion. True, but one is usually more passionate just before it gets warm enough to wear tight T-shirts and short skirts.
There are many weight-loss and weight-control methods. Everyone has her or his own favorites. There are diets of fruit only, meat only, even ice cream only. There are different types of medicine that can suppress appetite and help burn fat; there are different exercises to reduce fat and build muscle in different parts of the body - like flattening the belly. There are machines, acupuncture, hypnosis, support groups, 12-step programs, and so on.
The next trend might be publicly posting one's weight-loss/control diary online, as demonstrated by weight-loss blog competitions. Some have been organized by blog Websites or blog owners, others by pharmaceutical companies.
Some say it's a fad and embarrassing, some say it actually helps dieters to commit themselves publicly in a blog; they claim that the daily recording of diet and exercise leads to better weight loss and control.
One of the latest, started early this month, is called "2007 Pan Asia Reductil Challenge," organized by the pharmaceutical company Abbott to support the launch of its non-prescription weight-control product, Reductil (Nuomeiting), an appetite suppressant, in China.
The first round will be an online pre-screening that ends May 7. The third and final round on the Chinese mainland ends July 28. The first prize is merchandise worth 7,766 yuan (US$1,005). Then there are Asian semifinals and finals.
Participants in the first round are required to write at least two entries about weight-loss each week. In addition to recording his or her weight, the participant must also do two exercises - one must be belly dancing - and upload exercise videos.
Tracy Tan, a 28-year-old sales manger who has been on diet since 18, considers it "embarrassing" to post her experience online. She compares weight loss blog owners to the notorious Furong Jiejie (Sister Lotus), who became famous by posting her own sensual pictures. Sister Lotus is actually normal-looking but she posed herself (fully clothed) near flowers, showing off her curves.
"Those who post weight-loss experiences online just want to show off and get famous. At least, their blogs will get high browsing rates," says Tan.
True, although these blogs are not numerous, they are frequently visited and commented upon. A typical blog contains the owner's daily diet, weight, and exercise. Some even post pictures of themselves before and after dieting.
One of the most famous is the blog of Moxuan, 22, who lost about 80 pounds (36 kilograms) in three months. The overseas Chinese student in Canada gets more than 40,000 browsers and several hundreds comments for each entry. She posted dramatic before and after photos and she has become an inspiration for many dieters. She now weighs about 45 kilograms; she is 162 centimeters tall.