Gāofù shuài (高富帅): Tall, rich, and handsome
Let’s analyze this popular Chinese phrase for minute. All three words are commonly used together to describe an attractive member of the male sex; while you can call someone fù (rich) or shuài (handsome), it is more common to hear the words together. This implies that being tall, being rich, and being handsome are not mutually exclusive things.
Being in China has done wonders for my self esteem. Rarely a day goes by where someone doesn’t call me a Gāofù shuài. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a handsome guy; but, I’m no Ryan Gosling (or at least so I thought a few months ago).
For now let’s assume that I fulfill – no – exceed the requirements for Gāofù shuài. What does that mean for my life in China? I will address each part of the word and its affects 1 by 1.
- Gāo: This one is really simple. I’m 5’9. It is an average American height, and in China it is above average but not freakishly so. But hey, sometimes a person’s good looks can make them seem taller ;-). Gāo seems to be the least important of the 3 words; it seems stapled on to fù shuài just to add another positive adjective. But, hey I’m not complaining.
- Fù:I’m not rich. I came to China with a little bit of travel money; but most of the money I have been spending has been the money I have made from teaching. It’s not much, certainly by American standards, but 6,000 kuai (about $1,000) a month goes a long way in China. When students see me order the 9 kwai Shāo yā fàn (duck rice) – the most expensive thing in one of the cafeterias – they call me rich. But for me, 9 kwai is only 1.50. Considering that I have come to Asia for adventure, lets just say I don’t really think about saving.
- Shuài: I’ve already addressed that I’m handsome, charming, funny… whatever. If you are a western male in China – unless you are hideously deformed from some horrible accident, like I’m talking eye missing, tip-of-nose cut off, half-burnt-off face, cleft-lip, 什么的(Chinese for etc)… – you will be considered Shuài. The reason for this is far more complicated than the ethnocentric stereotype that Chinese girls just want a green card. It has a lot to do with the ways that Western culture gets filtered in to China. But, I digress, I will say more about this in a future post. For now: Simply put -westerners are exotic.
I’m not sure if I will ever be able to come back to NY from China. I am just too used to the attention I get here. Many people who I have never met will smile at me or introduce themselves to me. Often times Chinese girls will ask for pictures with me, “It’s just… It’s just that you’re so handsome.” Obviously I respond by telling them that I know; then I continue to to ask if I may take a picture also. I like to save the moment! It will be incredibly disappointing to be just another dude in New York again.
So, if you’re 5’7, hairy, pretend to be rich by “dropping bills” on tables, and are relatively decent looking: Don’t join Jdate! Come to China instead!
If you liked this post, be sure to check out Ballin’ Out on Butter: Money in China Pt. I and stay tuned for Money in China Pt. III.