This Ad Empowering China’s ‘Leftover Women’ Will Make You Cry

April 7, 2016, 5:57 PM UTC
Courtesy of SK-II

In China, the phrase “leftover woman” refers to a woman who has the gall to remain single past the age of 25.

A new documentary-style commercial from SK-II, a high-end skincare brand owned by Procter & Gamble, aims to remove the stigma from this term—and empower the country’s unmarried women to find pride in their careers and devotion to finding real love.

Called “Marriage Market Takeover,” the four-minute video, which includes English subtitles, introduces us to several of these “sheng nu,” who talk about the riot of emotions they feel around their status as single women: sadness that are disappointing their parents, frustration with the search for a mate, and pride in their independent lives and accomplishments.

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The scenes featuring the women with their parents are particularly heartbreaking: “She’s just average looking. Not too pretty, that is why she is a leftover woman,” says one mother, as her daughter sits next to her, eyes welling with tears.

Watch the full video here:

The ad does end on an uplifting note, as the parents and daughters visit a “marriage market”—a place where parents post pictures of their eligible children. The adult daughters use this as a chance to send a message to their parents.


“I am opposed to the term ‘leftover woman,'” says one, according to the video’s English translation. “I have a great career and there is another term called ‘power woman.'” Says another, “I don’t want to get married just for the sake of marriage. I won’t be happy that way.”

Happily, most of the parents appear hear what their children are saying, with one mom adding: “The ‘leftover men’ need to try harder.'”

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