China Clamps Down on "Beijing Bikini" Trend

China is cracking down on the itsy bitsy teenie weenie "Beijing bikini" trend — where men expose their bellies to cool down. 👙

Rolling Up To Beat The Heat

While we enter a summer of record heat, China is clamping down on “Beijing bikinis.” Jinan is the latest Chinese city to crack down on the “uncivilized behavior” of grown men rolling their shirts up — with a $30 fine. This also includes going shirtless. The phenomenon is called bang ye, which translates to “exposing grandfathers.” Other common public actions such as airing out shoes, bathing in open water, spitting, line-cutting are also subject to a fine by authorities. For some, the regulations are a move to ensure Chinese cities have a positive public image. For others, the changing law means it's harder to stay cool in the summer heat.

As far back as 2002 and particularly in the run up to the 2008 Olympics the government (and fashion commentators) did try to discourage men from exposing their bellies in public. Looking out the window into the gardens below it seems nobody took any notice. Some of the younger generation see it as embarrassing, and try to convince their fathers to stop, but are fighting losing battle when it’s 40°C outside.

For westerners visiting China, it’s somewhat confusing seeing a slew of businessmen in full business suits with their bellies protruding out. But that’s just how the Chinese roll up their shirts. Western notions of propriety and manners are thrown out the window here. Comfort trumps etiquette when the heat becomes just too much. While not everyone loves seeing the exposed grandpas, it’s hard to get them to stop showing off their stomachs when partial public exposure is common in the mainland. That’s not to say that the government hasn’t tried to censor these elder midriffs. Jinan’s authorities have also posted a long list of other banned behaviors, such as taking off shoes to air out feet, spitting, littering and queue-jumping.