Chinese teenagers are following the Japanese Moe-girl trend and are modeling themselves after beautiful comic-book girls.
But a Moe girl's life isn't easy.
The clothing has to be sexy and implicitly youthful but discreet. Hair has to be wavy and plastered with accessories, but not layered. Make-up should not be overdone, but should emphasize certain features, especially the eyes.
Ying Ying, the online name of a self-proclaimed Moe, spends one hour a day on make-up and touches up nearly 10 times a day.
"Eyes are the most important," Ying says. "They must be round and big."
She chooses the wigs she wears to match her clothes and make-up.
"Wide-open eyes and perched lips," Ying says, "give a super-Moe effect."
What began as a fashion trend has evolved into an attitude.
"In a Moe girl's world there is no such thing as hate," according to How to Be a Moe Girl author Liz Kershaw.
Kershaw explains that good manners and benevolence are the fundamentals of being a Moe girl, but personality must be altered depending on those around you.
Around other girls, and not just other Moe girls, modesty is very important, while the correct way for a Moe girl to act in front of men is sweet and shy while exuding an obscure sex appeal.
Acting clumsy and incorporating a cute catchphrase in your speech is a good addition, but not necessary.
According to Sun Yuanming, a psychology and sociology expert at the Chongqing Academy of Social Sciences, Chinese women are not only proud of being a Moe girl, but they also have a healthy competition with one another, determining who is more Moe.
"The pursuit of novel fashion such as this style is an inborn instinct," says Sun.
"This phenomenon is normal and it is necessary to know that young people from each generation have sought their own fashion. Trends must continuously be abandoned and updated."
But the Moe girl trend is not just limited to young Chinese women. Forty-seven-year-old Wang Li wants to be a Moe girl too. "I didn't know what Moe meant at first," Li says. "I started surfing the Internet and chatting through video.
"Some friends I met online told me I had the potential to be a Moe girl and from then on I began dressing up and have nearly perfected the Moe style."
(China Daily 06/26/2009 page19)