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    High-income women seek new image
Xiao Changyan
2006-03-10 08:27

It is not an exaggeration to describe women's quality training as a bamboo shoot after a spring rain.

The new business, which was never heard of by many Chinese women three years ago, grows surprisingly fast. It enjoys great popularity among high-income women. The leading training centres for women in Beijing include You Lan Women Institute, Weisili Women Training Centre and Beijing Gentlewomen Association. Their aim is the same - to train women to be graceful, happy and confident.

"Today's women face a great deal of pressure from their work and family. Society requires them to be capable professional women, dutiful wives and loving mothers. But many women find it hard to be perfect, balancing their family and work as well as enhancing their dispositions," said Zhang Lehua, founder of You Lan Women Institute.

Old ideas like sacrificing their own studies and careers for the sake of their families have been thrown away. More women are becoming brave enough to look for self-improvement and getting professional guidance on every aspect of their lives.

Among the courses, image designing, adult ballet, social etiquette and communication skills are the most popular ones.

"This is evidence of the high demands of society on women's appearance and social abilities," said Wen Yuankai, founder of Weisili Women Centre.

"In western countries there are finishing schools to give women effective guidance and systematic training," said Zhang. "But in China women seldom get such knowledge while on campus or after graduation.

"It is a blank area in women's education," she confirmed. "As more and more women surpass the life of dressing warmly and earning a good income in China, they become aware of pursuing high class lives and self improvement. But they desperately need guidance."

The prospect is quite rosy. According to Lu Dan, president of Shang Jiu Tang Women Training Club, she quickly got back most of her investment after only six months in operation. She easily develops related businesses such as custom tailoring and cosmetics and book selling. She also considers opening a high-end hairdressing salon.

These training centres target the upper part of the social pyramid. "Only women with decent incomes have such demands and can afford such costs," said Lu.

"A large part of our profit comes from training that companies provide for their employees," said Zhang Lehua. Since March 8 is Women's Day, schedules of every teacher in her institution are filled with lectures and classes for different companies. Foreign companies and large-scale domestic units like to invite them to give training sessions for their female employees. Some even set the image designing and communication courses as part of the compulsory training for every new employee.

(China Daily 03/10/2006 page6)


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