October 23, 2011

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Taiwanese girls: Stereotypes and reality

A lot of you were a little shocked to read my previous post about Taiwanese girls: What experts say, because you thought I completely lost it. But if you've read carefully enough, it must have been soon obvious to you, that the piece reeked of sarcasm and mockery. That post was meant to serve as a reference to the today's post, which will try to talk about the same issue, but on a higher intellectual level.

Taiwanese girls: Stereotypes and reality seems to be a fitting title for a topic, that is very fascinating to many people, but of course there is no objective truth on the matter, there are just opinions and viewpoints. All I can do is touch on some common phenomena surrounding young Taiwanese females and try to explain them with the awareness that this also bears many limitations and poses many traps. But after all, this is just a blog post, not a scientific research and I'm not writing a PhD, I'm just trying to provide something more substantial on the matter, because there's just too much nonsense out there, which my previous post effectively proved.

Young girls in Ximending. They are Taiwan's future.

1. How to comprehend a few million females?

There are many foreigners in Taiwan, who claim to know a lot about the local women, but their opinion is very superficial, oftentimes affected by a bad experience. And based on the words they use, I'd say they don't seem to be the most credible source on the matter. I don't claim to be an expert, but I know few things by now. For me it was and still is a learning process. When I look back I see how many things I didn't understand a year ago and I'm sure, if you rummage around various forums long enough, you will find some statements from me, which I would not sign anymore. Living and working in Taiwan changed me. Being married to a Taiwanese girl and having a lot of female friends helped me to see what influences, guides and motivates them to be the way they are. I often see a similar pattern across the circle of women I have the pleasure to deal with and I intend to highlight them here for you. Are you ready for some shocking revelations?

Who's afraid of Taiwanese girls? (photo source)

2. The common stereotypes about Taiwanese girls

Taiwan is a country, that is still veiled in mystery for a big part of the outside world. This beautiful, yet for a long time isolated island in the Far East has only been recently discovered by the Western travel and expat communities. And with the help of the world wide web, it's today very easy to spread information and generate a certain set of ideas about the people here. I have no problem with that, if the ideas are thought through and well argued. There are a lot of foreign men, who come to Taiwan, because they are driven by expectations based on stereotypes. And when they come here, they get disappointed, bitter and frustrated. They write blogs, post on forums and sell their experience as the ultimate truth, but by doing that they tarnish the reality for the future visitors and also harm the reputation of the other foreigners, who live here and tend to be a little more nuanced in their views - it's a vicious circle. Based on my last post, that collected some of these often misleading, but mostly nasty comments, you would think that Taiwanese girls are:

- materialistic, career and clothes oriented
- psycho when breaking up with them
- shy in public and while intimate
- obsessed with White guys, especially blonde with blue eyes
- fall for cheap tricks
- cunning, want to steal your money
- don't value your time
- sleep around a lot, especially with rich guys and ABCs
- love only in exchange for money and expensive gifts
- selfish, insecure, self-centered
- wish they were Japanese
- their breath stinks a little

This is just a small fraction of the stuff, that circulates around the web. But as crazy as it sounds, we can't deny that these kinds of girls exist in Taiwan. But they also exist in Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, USA... probably in most developed countries. I'm sure a lot of guys, who say these things, saw an example of that here, but is that enough to label the whole young female population as being that way? Their statements want to generalize and harm the reputation of the Taiwanese girls, one of the indicators of that is the suggestion by Google, when you type Taiwanese girls are...

3. Internal reasons for Taiwanese girls' bad reputation

Taiwan, although a fairly small nation, is very influential in the region, especially in popular culture such as music, dance, cinema and beauty. The late 1980s and early 1990s was a period, that some call the Taiwanese dream. An economic boom, that came much earlier than the one in South Korea and China, but somewhat at the same time with the one in Japan, catapulted this fairly unknown nation into the spotlight of the world. The (at that time) recently acquired freedom of expression laid ground for Taiwanese art to flourish. Those were the times, where China was far from the number 2 economy in the world and nobody heard about a Korean wave. And those were the times that liberalized and changed Taiwan, certainly not like the West was changed in 1968, but in an East Asian society change happens in small steps and gradually - however the 1990s certainly accelerated them. And now after all this transformation (and democratization), this is what an average foreign visitor sees, when he turns on a TV in Taiwan, opens up a Taiwanese magazine or walks around the urban jungle of Taiwanese cities, that seems so generic on the surface:

Betel nut girls

Betel nut girl in Banqiao, 2010.

These skimpily clad young Taiwanese beauties, who sell betel nuts in small booths along the roads in Taiwan's cities and towns are oftentimes portrayed as prostitutes and used as an example, that is applied to all Taiwanese girls alike. This is of course rubbish and much more complex than it meets the eye. Check my post about them and watch a video by Toby Openshaw, a famous photographer and film-maker, who meticulously researched this phenomenon in order to get a better understanding of these girls. They are a part of Taiwan's society, but they do not represent the whole female population of the country.

Funeral strippers and parade dancers

She's dancing at the controversial Pigs of God festival.

This has been a pretty known phenomenon for Taiwan insiders, but in 2011 and 2012 foreign media caught attention of what it perceives as a very bizarre ritual of young attractive girls in lingerie dancing in front of graves, shrines and funeral celebrations. They are known in Taiwan as "electric flower car girls". I have written a thorough post on this topic and added a lot of visual material, you can check the post here.

Girls in talk shows

Girls from a Taiwanese talk show. (photo source)

There are a lot of Taiwanese TV shows, that are very shallow. For me this is entertainment in its most basic form, where you can just switch off and listen to trivial things. Some of these shows use young beautiful women in skimpy outfits to chat, play games or perform something. A lot of shows focus on outfits and beauty tips, where makeup is applied or various outfits exchanged and so called "experts" then explain to their female viewers which clothes, makeup, creams, diets etc. are good for them. It's probably well connected with the powerful beauty industry and a win-win situation for both, the TV channel and the company, who sponsors it. The girls in these shows are a part of Taiwan's female population, but do not represent a big fraction of it.

Idols from the pop industry

Dream Girls are one of the popular girl groups in and outside of Taiwan. (photo source)

Taiwan is home to one of the biggest music industries in East Asia and it's the center of Mando pop and Taiwan pop. It attracts talents from countries with Chinese speaking population such as China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and USA, shapes them and exports them back. The music labels here are powerful and influential and control a multi-billion industry. And they have the power to shape an image of a girl, that is idolized and admired, usually for her beauty, less for her intellectual abilities. Of course that's all well known to the people in the West, because we showed the world how it works (and how you can make money), but it still doesn't make it right. Yes, Taiwanese female idols are pretty, most of them are also very talented, but don't assume they represent the majority of the girls here.

Models and the beauty industry

Sonia Sui is currently one of Taiwan's most influential models. (photo source)

Taiwan's beauty industry is as powerful as the music industry, when it comes to creating idols, pushing trends and making money. Both have managed to make beauty one of the core ideals for young Taiwanese women. I have nowhere seen so many advertisements focusing on beauty products, fashion trends and personal appearance as in Taiwan. Some of the finest models and model agencies come from Taiwan or are based here. So far in this part of the world most of the beauty and fashion trends come from Japan, a lot also come from Korea, but Taiwan is filtering them, adding its unique touch and dispatching them further into China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, influencing the local Chinese population in these countries. There are certainly a lot of beautiful girls in Taiwan and a lot of the beauty is enhanced by various products, which is all fair play, but that doesn't mean that every girl matches the image of Sonia Sui and alike. If that's what you expect, you're definitely going to be disappointed, when you visit Taiwan.

One of the beauty ideals of Taiwanese girls is very pale skin. (photographer source)

Taiwanese drama

The Fierce Wife was a popular Taiwanese drama in 2011. (photo source)

The Taiwanese drama is a very well established term in the Chinese speaking world. Taiwan is the biggest exporter of sappy soap operas in Chinese language, that moralize in the areas of romance, relationship and family matters. I guess you could say this is where Taiwan's soft power comes out the strongest, but I often wonder, if they use the right "weapons" for that. Nevertheless, these dramas usually end with a happy end, where the handsome guy falls for the average girl next door. The family matters of course get resolved, because the kids stop to rebel against the parents' wish and show "respect", which brings back the lost "harmony". These dramas represent your average next door Taiwanese girl in a way they want her to be and not the way she usually is. Like always, some girls will be close to these characters, but many will be very far from them.

TV commercials

Cute and sexy is how the commercials want you to believe Taiwanese girls are.

Taiwanese TV commercials like to use cute girls who sing and dance. Usually they are (or they will become) celebrities and then appear in various other commercials and talk shows. It's a very similar pattern to the one in the music and beauty industry: They try to create role models and idols and they have a strong focus on happiness and harmony, something that is very important in a society with Chinese roots. Of course these girls are so jumpy and fired up only on TV, don't expect this type of girls on every corner in Taiwan. You can check a collection of these commercials here.

The party goers

Quite many young girls in Taipei like to go to night clubs. (photo by Steven Vigar).

So you heard, that Taipei has an awesome night life? Right. You came here and realized it's off the hook, because you met few girls and had tons fun. Good for you. But clubbing is by nature a venue, where people want to have fun and meet other people. Hooking up is something they look for, so it won't be that hard to meet someone and get involved for a night or two. But does that mean all Taiwanese girls are that way? Of course not. This is part of urban life in most big cities of the size of Taipei.The stories, that base on encounters of foreigners with female Taiwanese party goers are always interesting, however a lot of times exaggerated. But how much does this represent the whole reality of Taiwan's young women? I would say just a small part, because most girls and young women in Taiwan don't have the luxury to go to a night club very often.

The bloggers and writers

Illy Queen is one of Taiwan's most popular bloggers. (read more here)

The idea of having someone to look up to, a role model or an idol, is quite strong among the young female population. So it's no wonder, that in a country, that supplies the whole world with computer parts like no other, the internet infrastructure is among the best in the world. Taiwan's online community is huge and it attracts not only the young people of Taiwan, who engage in various social websites, forums and blogs, but also youngsters from China, Singapore, Malaysia and even from Western countries. Being an online celebrity many times means being one off the LCD screen as well. And these girls are in no way different than idols in the pop industry. Sadly, a lot of these shooting stars, once they realize they can make good money, become a marketing tool of various companies. It's a common pattern in Taiwan's entertainment industry and it shifts a lot of young girls in certain directions.

Girls on social media

This is a cutout from the popular website Wretch.

A lot of Taiwanese girls like to share their private photos on social media such as Facebook, Plurk, Instagram, Pinterest and Wretch albums. Young girls are sometimes very open to show not only their cute side, but also their sexy side. It is a way to express themselves, but to those outside Taiwan, this might send out false signals about Taiwanese girls in general. A lot of girls distinguish between the online identity, which might seem liberal and the one offline, that's usually a bit more conservative.

The late night girls

A girl from a Friday night TV program.

A lot of Taiwanese TV channels have various programs on Friday and Saturday night with scantily clad young girls dancing in bikinis, playing silly games in bunny outfits or answering calls of usually older male viewers and trying to make them talk as long as possible, because they pay a lot of money per minute. This is in stark contrast of a society, that can hardly accept public display of affection, even breastfeeding would cause a minor scandal. I have no idea where they find these girls, who fill up the nightly program during the weekend, but don't assume that these girls represent a big portion of the Taiwanese female population. To the contrary.

4. Two sides of a coin

Although Taiwan seems chaotic at the first glance, people love order.

To understand Taiwanese girls, one needs to understand the Taiwanese society, which is in many ways very unique. What do you get, if you politically isolate a traditional Chinese society on an island for 60 years? Right! You get the Taiwan of today. The country is full of contradictions, for example seeing an ubersexy girl in high heels burning joss sticks in a temple is no rare sight. Young people want to express themselves in a society, that forces them into conformity and harmony. "We Taiwanese are very family oriented", I often hear from them. But for me that means that the parents get too much involved in the life of their children and not only that, they do so all the time. You can be 20, 30 or 40, it's expected that you follow a certain way they lay out for you or at least take their suggestions and expectations into consideration, when you do something. Sure, young Taiwanese find ways to avoid conflicts and still have it their own way, but it's quite stressful. Now imagine what a big challenge can it be for a Taiwanese girl to introduce her new foreign boyfriend to her parents. In some cases, it won't be a big problem, but in many cases she will be thoroughly questioned and your motives of dating their daughter will be highly suspicious to them. Taiwanese parents tend to overly worry, but at the same time they tend to believe, that they know better, what is best for their daughter. That roots in the Confucian concept of "孝" or filial piety, where respect for parents and ancestors is one of the highest virtues in the society (read more here). Now combine this with the need of the young people to express themselves and you will get various ways, where these confines want to be broken, where the constraints of a hierarchical family structure want to be evaded. Sure, young people don't have a lot of time in Taiwan, as they're either studying nonstop or working like slaves, but the free time they have would be spent with friends or used for various activities and that's the part, where various idols and celebrities mentioned above enter a young Taiwanese girl's life.

Young people in Hsinchu at a concert near the famous East Gate trying to escape.

Whatever your personal experience may be, you have to take all the things I have mentioned so far into consideration in order to understand the Taiwanese girls a little better. Of course this is just one side of the coin, the other is the character, the intellect, the social status and whatever happened in her life that made her the way she is. The latter points are crucial to understand your girl and see her as the individual she is. But you still can't deny all the other influences from the society she grew up, even if she's different than what her parents want her to be, she'll always be aware of their expectations and subconsciously she might be affected by that.

5. I don't know how most Taiwanese girls are

However, I've seen a lot of interesting phenomena since I first came to Taiwan in 2010. Some of it surprised me, some of it made me chuckle and some of it upset me. But nevertheless, I have learned a lot in the process, which will not be finished any time soon. Let me share some photos and videos of the things I have seen a lot of times in Taiwan. They are all related to Taiwanese girls and I hope it will serve you as a reference for a better understanding:

A lot of girls wear contacts and glasses. I've nowhere seen more people with bad eye sight like in Taiwan. No idea where this roots, but it's quite significant.

Wearing frames without lenses is the latest craze in Taipei this year. It swapped over from Japan and it might become yesterday's news very soon. (photo source)

These are no outfits you'd see on Taipei's streets during the day, but you could spot girls in clubs who wear them (and it doesn't mean they are promiscuous!).

A lot of Taiwanese girls place great importance on the look of their hair, pay a lot for a good hairdo. Long hair dominates, curly is considered cute (photo from an ad).

Young beautiful women are commonly found on huge advertisements around Taipei. They are one of the main focuses of the advertising industry.

The concept of cuteness is strongly present in today's Taiwanese society.

The ideal of a romantic everlasting love is something a lot of Taiwanese girls dream of. Keep that in mind, if you seriously fall for a nice girl and don't play with her.

The wedding is one of the most important things in a Taiwanese woman's life. Foreigners, who say they are serious with a girl, but don't consider to marry her, are contradicting themselves from the standpoint of a Taiwanese girl. You can read more about it in my famous post: Everything about Taiwanese wedding.

Taiwan is home to a lot of talented girls and it's always amazing to me how humble they are, when you praise them. The girl above garnered world wide attention.

A lot of girls love to dance. They gather in public places such as the Taipei's subway and exercise together. Taiwanese like to do things in groups.

Celebrities have a great impact on young women's lives. On the photo above you can see a book signing by a popular writer, that attracted a lot of fans.

A lot of Taiwanese girls would protect themselves from the sun with an umbrella, because tanned skin is considered ugly in Taiwanese culture.

Just like many Taiwanese men, a lot of girls are into photography. It's probably one of the most common hobbies young people engage in.

And since photography is such a popular hobby, a lot of girls would like to pose as models in various settings. You can see similar images near popular spots.

The photo above shows, that many Taiwanese women love taking photos of flowers and like considerate guys, who would hold the bag and the umbrella for them.

A mother and daughter enjoying a view together. Most Taiwanese girls have a special bond with their mothers.

Taiwanese girls also place great importance on friendship. "Friends are the family you choose" can be taken quite literally in Taiwan.

Young Taiwanese burning paper money on the street: A lot of Taiwanese girls are living between modernity and traditions without any problems.

Many Taiwanese girls are into art and love to join exhibitions and events.

Maybe my post demystified some of the fix ideas about Taiwanese girls, maybe it reinforced them, I'm not sure. But hopefully it highlighted the most significant aspects, that need to be taken into consideration, when you try to understand the young women of Taiwan. And understanding instead of prematurely judging is something I see as the most important thing in all my posts related to Taiwan and I will not stop emphasizing that in the future.

And at last: Whatever might have brought you to Taiwan and whatever experience you might have had with a local lady, never forget to see every woman as the individual she is and with the background that shaped her. And never forget to take a look in the mirror: It might well be that it was you who hasn't met her expectations.

Click here, if you want to read about more uniquely Taiwanese things>>


  1. U done a lot of research...great

  2. @Cherryqueen: Yep, also on you :P

  3. I find the article a little bit naive (in the good way) but very interesting, I've enjoyed reading it and I agree with most of your points and observation.

    What I recommend you it's re-write the same article in one year (and do the same thing the years after) and I'm sure you will have to change/review some stuff, would be an even more interesting article.

    I wish I had your writing talent because there are many stuff I could say about Taiwanese women.

    Good job!

  4. @hida.takayama: Don Quijote de la Japan :)

    @justrecently: Incendiary? You did not get the sarcasm and the point of the post? Or is it still over the top for you? I am surprised. My wife loved it :)

    @Tortue: Thanks for your comment and I'm glad you like the post. Spent 1 week writing it bit by bit and had no idea how to make this well structured and readable. It's an overwhelming topic full of traps, so I was very careful about phrasing every sentence (I know trolls are waiting for me to fall on my nose...). But anyway, it's a learning process. Most likely I will write something about this in the future. It's always great for me to look back and read old posts and realize how Taiwan has changed me and how different I see things. And in the end, a written post is something static, so you have limits how to express yourself. If we ever had the chance to talk face to face about Taiwanese girls, I'd also have a lot more to say :)

  5. From the photos you posted, it does seem that there is a heavy Japanese influence on Taiwanese female fashion. Also good to be back, how have you been, Nino?

  6. you're posts are always so detailed :3
    love the video of the girl playing all of those instruments at the same time O_o she's so good!!!

  7. I do agree that Taiwanese girls dont mind living in between modernity and traditionalism. And they're all cute. I really wonder how they get to dress 10 yrs old younger than their actual age.
    Living here for 3 years, im practically one of them! xDD

  8. Basically, what you've described Taiwanese girls are pretty much like girls all over the world.

    In any country, you will get demure, gentle girls and you also have wild, love to have crazy fun girls.

    You will have the beautiful, the ugly and the in between.

    You will have some that love to dress up, put on lots of make up etc and the average ones who don't know how to or can't be bothered.

    It's interesting to read this post and know more on Taiwanese girls and do wonder why people get the misconception as you've mentioned.


  9. @The Envoy: Yep, I mentioned it. It swaps over a lot, but Taiwanese girls push it then to Southeast Asia. Taiwan is a filter of awesomeness :) As you can see, I've been fine. And yourself?

    @*~kAy~*: Took me a while to write this. I'm the type to write something of lasting quality and also thought provoking. Hope people like it :)

    @Citra: Haha.. I'm sure by now you blend in :) Taiwan sucks you in somehow, right? It does this with me :)

    @KookieGirl: You got one of my main points, congrats! Like you saw, there's a lot of nonsense on the web, but one of my points is, that Taiwanese girls are diverse and of course pretty "normal" (let's pretend there is a universal idea behind "normal"). However, they have unique cultural constraints and that's what shapes them, that's what makes them sometimes hard to understand from a Western perspective. I just want people to think first, to try and understand first before judging and mocking. I disagree with many things I see in Taiwan, but I find ways to understand it and deal with it.

  10. Haha lol at the kookies girl part.

    People will always have preconceived ideas. Humans are peculiar, not perfect but somehow everyone's a self appointed critic.

    I guess for me, it's the norm. I can relate to what you've said about Taiwanese girls seeing how I am an Asian and brought up with conservative Christian values.

    And I do forget that it's different from a Western's perspective. Moving to Aussie and interacting with those brought up here, I can also see the difference in culture and upbringing. :)

  11. Funny observation from an Euro guy living in Taiwan; I laughed at the "Taiwanese girls: Stereotypes and reality" and other TW girl series.

  12. For me it's really a big topic to write and research, so when you told me you wanted to write this topic, I worried a little, ahha. But as always, you did good job again and did mention the most critical part in your post. Taiwanese girls behaviors mostly were connected to Taiwanese society and all the expectations from elders, friends, relatives and families. From a European's eyes, it's really hard for you to understand why we can't just be ourselves.

    But if you really spend some time to observe and analyze, you could put your feet in our shoes more, although it's still hard to realize. I don't know if other Taiwanese girls would be like me, have the overly worried parents and always have higher expectation, there must be some are alike, some are not. You are just not so lucky to meet those who don't have the parents like mine.

    But this is truly a great article, has high reference value to those who want to have normal relationships with Taiwanese girls.

  13. @Kookie hottie: It's always a difference. I'm not sure how much I have in common with Aussies :)

    @foxfair: Thank you :)

    @LilyChen: Well, no Taiwanese girl is like you, but there are things you do that others do as well, most of stems from the culture you have in common :)

  14. I have been dating Taiwanese girls for the past 10 years. I came here 5 years ago because of one of them, that I had met while studying English in the US.

    Your post is ambitious, so I'll try to keep this comment short.

    There are huge cultural differences between the north and the south. People in the north are much closer to the Chinese in culture. They are colder, more adventurous sexually, don't follow tradition as much, and emphasize money more. People in the south are more controlling, more polite and kind, more genuine, and the girls have a lot more conversation.
    All of my long-term relations have been with southerners. A majority of my short flings were with northerners.

    I agree with Tortue. My perception of the island has changed dramatically over the past decade. Some things stay (Taiwanese are lovely people), but others are completely different (what I am ready to accept from her family).

    Girl's materialism or the perception westerners can have of it, comes from a few things:
    -Countries that were poor just a generation ago haven't really developed post industrial values where wealth and consumption is considered as a lower form of achievement.
    -Taiwanese are very pragmatic and love luck. The combination of these two is making money, being successful, and owning things.
    -Social status and success if very important in Chinese societies. To be successful, you can be a teacher, a very smart and respected man, or you can own many things and be very wealthy. Not everyone can be a teacher though.
    -Traditionally women are considered as a second class citizen that will only fullfill herself socially when she marries and has children. Once she lose her virginity she is considered to be a "used sock" (no longer good for marriage). She becomes dependant on the willingness of her husband to keep her, and if a divorce was to happen she is very unlikely to marry again (unlike the husband). This means marriage is a one shot opportunity for her, which will dramatically influence her life. This is why her parents, in the Confucian tradition, will insist on vetting partners and suggesting other people (to a point where it is self-defeating, but this is another topic). Her marriage will reflect on her whole family, as the ceremony is more about her parents and their friends than the married couple. The main advice the parents will be giving is that she marries someone stable. Stability in TW means situation of respect/power (teacher), or wealth. This is why traditionally the husband must have 房子車子票子 before he can marry (a car, a house, and some money), or be one of the three 子 (lawyer, doctor, accountant). One of the consequence of this is that the boyfriend must jump through hoops before he can be accepted as marriage material by the girl's family. He must prove he deserves her. This means he may have to deliver food to her and her friends in uni dorms in the middle of the night, cover her with presents while eating instant noodles to pay for it, agree to her every whims, and bow down to the parents' will.
    Thus, the perception of materialism from TW girls mainly comes from: Eagerness to show status (in the north especially) combined with checking if you are a decent BF that could become husband material (because they always think about marriage).
    The truth is that it is not really about the money, it is about the efforts you will put into her. Do romantic things that stand out, take her on unusual dates, cook her something from your home country, and you'll never hear her asking for things. The issue is that a lot of foreigners don't think about doing that, and a lot of girls are too influenced by media/too immature to ask for what they really want: Attention, care, and love.

  15. Learned a lot of interesting things from this post, Nino. It's great you seem to appreciate all the positive qualities in Taiwanese women and have picked up some things from Lily as well.. can't help but spot her in your pics! lol

  16. @Ed en Vadrouille: Excellent comment, Ed, thanks for taking your time. I may use some of the things you say here as a reference in my future posts and quote you. You're definitely experienced in this field, your future comments would much appreciated.

    @Karen: Haha.. you're a sharp mind with sharp eyes, Karen :)

  17. My pleasure MKL ;)
    Your excellent post compelled me into writing about this. I think I'll try and develop this into a full fledged post on YFFM once I have more time, with the topic of "Are Taiwanese girls materialistic"?
    Another post that could come from your writing here, could be "Are Taiwanese girls easy"?
    In the meantime, use my writings however you want :)

  18. Good insight details about the life, thought, style, liberal attitude of Tiwanese girls. Progressive society.

  19. @Ed: Thanks again.

    @naresh: Thanks.

  20. I think the title is still pretty misleading. It is still not the reality. You just replaced gross stereotype with more accurate stereotype.

    There is no fast track or a quick guide to any culture. Any attempt trying to do so without admitting that is a disgrace and disrespect to that culture. Especially from a foreigner who lived just a few months/years.

    I was born in Taiwan and lived there for years and left to USA. I don't even claim to know Taiwanese culture myself.

  21. BTW, Even so, I appreciate you take the time and effort to write and dismiss the gross stereotype. I hope you do not see my comment as hostile. =)


  22. @WillYp777: Did you read the first part of the post, where I say: ...there is no objective truth on the matter, there are just opinions and viewpoints. All I can do is touch on some common phenomena surrounding young Taiwanese females and try to explain them with the awareness that this also bears many limitations and poses many traps. But after all, this is just a blog post, not a scientific research and I'm not writing a PhD...? I think this should explain it even to the most stupid reader, what I was trying to say.

    Your comments sound rather racist to me. You claim to be Taiwanese and are repeatedly calling me foreigner and then say that even you, a Taiwanese born immigrant don't know Taiwanese culture, how could a foreigner then know? Don't you think it's very racist to say so? You don't know me at all and clearly you have not bothered to go into the points I make, you're only upset, that a foreigner dares to express his view on an aspect of Taiwanese culture.

    Don't take my reply as hostile, I'm just speaking my mind. I don't know you, maybe you're not as bad as I think. Few comments are not enough to know a person, but I don't have a good impression of you - frankly I feel offended by your words.

  23. From a white, American foreigner very much in love with a girl from Kaohsiung... thanks, you've proven me wrong that all expats in Taiwan are assholes and morons.

    My one tip for men who actually want to be with a Taiwanese girl (rather than just get them into bed...): get humble, quick. She may be impressed by your self-assured, young-Western-liberal-globetrotting-consumerist-professional image at first but that doesn't mean much in the long run.

    Do you want a future with the girl? You'll be taking care of her parents eventually, for example. It's not a bad thing - they have a rich and satisfying culture, strong family ties, and it makes for a fine life... it can be truly wonderful, even if you have to work like an ant until your own kids can bring in the cash and support you, in kind. But if you're a self-centered Anglo-American brat, you'll just embarrass yourself and shame the girl.

  24. @Anonymous: Thanks for your great comment, I guess we think alike in many ways :) Good luck with your girlfriend.

  25. It does seem that many Taiwanese girls tend to be on the attractive side, but I think it's because of the climate. It is usually humid, so they don't get dry skin as easily, therefore they stay younger-looking for longer. However, they do rarely get free time, since parents care a lot about their academics. Because of this, they try to spend as much time as they can with friends. And @Ed, yes your views are probably true. Parents can be overprotetive of their children, especially if they only have once child. My maternal grandmother didn't approve of my dad until about a year after my parents' marriage. They also care about how well your boyfriend is doing academically if you were in high school(for girls), to help insure that her possible future husband could support her financially.

  26. My wife's traditional Taiwanese parents have belittled her (in the 重男輕女 fashion) for most of her life. She hasn't been hugged *ever* by her parents -- she's now 27. Her mom has called her a slut -- or the Chinese language equivalent -- just for dating me. Now that we're married, my wife has decided not to celebrate with her family, much less ask for their permission. That's what they get.

    My wife is a sufficiently stubborn, courageous woman. Let this be a warning to any person looking to have a lasting relationship with a Chinese or Taiwanese woman with traditional parents: you better be damn-well sure that this woman is a strong person who understands their own worth as a person. Moreover, you better be ready to support her everyday, because the process of "forbidding her culture" is not easy and takes months/years to overcome.

    Only a strong woman will willingly oppose an oppressing family situation. These types of women deserve a lot of credit and more support -- particularly from their partners.

  27. Dear MKL,

    while reading your blog about Taiwan women I felt astray when following the "Taiwanese women sucks" blog you refered to , luckily I made it back ;-) a few level upwards ...felt like almost suffocating in that world of emotional darkness...
    ok..and Anonymous, verrrrrrrrry nice to read your qualified remarks about taiwanese society. MKL, do you really are here just for ONE year? .... Noooooooooooooooooooo...

  28. @Strawberry: Good points.

    @Anonymous: That's pretty sad what you describe, but admirable, that your wife is so courageous. I wish you both best of luck!

    @Anonymous: Yep, just 1 year so far :)

  29. I praise you on venturing beyond the initial fan-girl-based social images of Taiwan's pretentious media industry.

    The article, however, has only presented crude observations in the form of staccatos. Perhaps a re-structuring of the actual 'content' will float the boat better (removing excessive details on the fashionable glasses for instance).

    Upon stumbling across your site, I kept it opened and felt attached to the article title. However, nearing the end I found the contents disappointing and rather frugal.

    If you were to mention all the things Taiwanese girls are 'not', posting up one single image of their most realistic or primal look certainly does not do justice! You should speak of what they are to 'you'. What 'you' think they are. By describing what they are not, you further popularize the images of Taiwan's GIRL=SEX=GODDESS even more.

    As far as I understand, the majority of Taiwanese girls are not so different from the rest of the world. It is merely the media industry that gives the world a false impression - just like how Taiwanese folks may imagine everyone in the US to be all like Brad Pitt, or Boo-Lai-Der-Pee-Tir)

    Yes, the differences in cultural upbringing and concepts of filial obedience may play a major factor in their life but that certainly does not mean the tradition will follow through forever. Tradition lives along with time like an organic being.

  30. @Jeff: Have you read the first paragraph, my introduction, where I said:

    of course there is no objective truth on the matter, there are just opinions and viewpoints.

    All I can do is touch on some common phenomena surrounding young Taiwanese females and try to explain them with the awareness that this also bears many limitations and poses many traps. But after all, this is just a blog post, not a scientific research...

    I was speaking about my observations, it's clearly about how I see them! Wasn't that clear to you? Do I need to write this disclaimer every time I write a post on my personal blog?

    As far as I understand, the majority of Taiwanese girls are not so different from the rest of the world.

    What does this statement mean? It's a completely useless statement. "Rest of the world" includes girls in Zimbabve, Micronesia, Greenland, Bolivia, Kosovo, Iran, Kazakhstan, Togo, Quebec, Wales, Sri Lanka - are these girls really all the same in their behavior, look, culture, life style, values, goals, education, wealth? If that's true then someone please wake me up, as I'm trapped in a wrong world, where I see diversity and differences instead of uniformity.

  31. Hi everyone
    I have a Taiwanese girlfriend and I just wanted to say: Taiwanese girls are the best!!!

  32. No worries about offending others; everyone is entitled to their own opinions which others don't have to agree. Everything and demographic groups have vices and virtues. I enjoyed your article as a female born in TW but lived in the U.S. for more than 1/2 of my life already, so only very few aspects I can relate myself to. Cheers.

  33. Hi MKL,
    I'm an Australian guy who fell in love with and married a Taiwanese girl.
    It's been a long time of gradual understanding and adjustment to each other but I wouldn't change anything for the world.
    I love Taiwan and if I could I'd live here, but I've got a good job in Australia and it's difficult if not silly to give that away. That said, I love Taiwan so much that both of my children were born here and the care and attention they get from their grandparents has to be experienced to be believed.
    I am jealous of your eloquence and how well you put yourself into your writing. I'd love to be able to communicate my feelings and opinions as well as you do but with my engineering background everything I write comes across as dry facts and bald statements. You've got a knack for expression that is a wonder to read.
    I'd have loved to have read your blog about nine years ago as I'm sure it would have illuminated many things for me and cleared up lot's of my naive misconceptions, but it's been a great journey of discovery for both me and my wife.
    I'm currently sitting in my wife's family's apartment in Shilin, Taipei having been here for three weeks while my wife gives birth to our second child, a little girl. We were blessed to have a boy first about 3 1/2 years ago and you'll understand just how happy my wife was when she found that our second child was to be a girl. Truly "hao" right to the very roots of the character itself.
    I see from your posts that your blogging has slowed a bit lately what with life itself occupying your time but I'd love to suggest an idea for a possible future blog if I may be so bold, as I believe that coming from your perspective it'd be insightful and interesting. It's about one aspect of Taiwanese society that I've noticed here that although there are similarities in other countries, Taiwan has taken it to new levels. I'm referring to marketing "give aways", freebies and promotional products.
    I have never seen a country where just for filling up your car with petrol you get soap or tissues thrown in for free. Open a credit card account and see what items they provide. It's even in buying a new car. Every new car in Taiwan is almost fully optioned by default and comes with leather interior. They wouldn't be able to sell a car if it wasn't, it's totally expected for the price. Coming from Australia which is pretty spendthrift ( use whatever adjective seems best here ) there are almost no free give aways for anything. It was a big surprise to be able to go to a big department store and with trying all the free taste tests I could have various types of rice/seaweed/noodles, try several different meats, stewed/ fried/ battered /crumbed, I could try pancakes/ icecream/ cakes/ biscuits, then lastly I could test beers/ wines/ liquors, even whiskeys and other spirits. I walked out of there feeling like I'd been to an all-you-can-eat buffet. WOW ---- and they have this all the time. Double WOW. (Ps: Costco is the biggest, Supermarket under Sogo Shilin is best quality)
    Anyway --- Absolutely love the blog -- It's an incredibly useful resource for people to read and understand about Taiwan.
    Yours Sincerely
    Darren Miller.

  34. I think you did a good job on this MKL. Making general statements about people of a particular culture is filled with traps because there is so much variety. Focusing more in the influences seems like the right approach because everyone gets the influence even though the reactions to the influence make take a 10 million forms.

    And anyone who thinks they understand those forms based on a year or perhaps even 10 years is probably full of it. In statistical analysis it is common to get a sample size of about 1000 before you make claims. 1 year is hardly enough time to really get to know 1000 Taiwanese girls. Even 10 years isn't enough time especially since you need a random sample rather than just say, the girls you pick up in clubs. And of course once 10 years have gone by you have a new generation of girls with a different set of influences and you have to start over.

    Hmmm, this sounds like a job I should start working on right away - how do I explain it to my wife?

  35. @Anonymous in Shihlin


  36. @Darren Miller: Thanks for your comment. I was reading it while I was in Hong Kong, but I forgot to reply. Well, you are right about the giveaways, they are usually cheaper than giving real discount to customers, so sometimes you have to be careful not to get tricked :) I might write about it in the future. Thanks for your lovely comment and I'm glad you like my blog.

    @Readin: Thanks for the comment.

  37. that's really cool article. thx for u to introduce our taiwanese girl. it was very detail nd recently btw lol :D

  38. Filial Piety is 孝順...but we can let that slide. Very good points. I have to admit I have been victim of thinking them for a while. Let's not forget the stereotypes foreigners get. I liked this article, and found it very true to our feelings and understandings. Unfortunately stereotypes will never go away, so the more people we can educate the better!

  39. @Sean Bryant: 孝 is commonly used as a noun for the "Confucian concept of filial piety", while 孝順 usually used as the adjective "filial" (for example 妳很孝順), but we can let this slide. Thanks for liking the article.

  40. I really enjoyed reading this article and the preceding one. However I can't seem to see the pictures you refer to. Could you please just double check that the pictures are loading fine on your side?

  41. @The Tamer: Sorry, I had an issue with my server. I have fixed it, so you can check these posts again with photos fully uploaded. Thanks for the reminder.

  42. lol i married a taiwanese girl, and i agree with you.
    i met just a handful of party-goers.

  43. I think Taiwan is fantastic. But, didn't come here to get hooked up. No, thank you.

  44. Great info as I just started dating a VERY traditional Taiwanese girl myself. You have a great layout. If you ever get time to look at my Taiwan blog, and give me some "expert advice" especially on the layout, I would greatly appreciate it. I can be found at taiwaniseasy.blogspot.com.tw.

  45. I think the where the bad reputation came from is actually far more simple:
    1. people don't complain if they have good girlfriend, so all you see are the people that complain.
    2. no news that the taiwanese media like to overly focus on the negative stuff. positive things aren't exciting enough to attract people.

  46. The #2 point is indeed the common stereotype for Taiwanese women. I agree with the author. The Taiwanese girls I met in person are quite different from the ones on the TV shows. The "act" on those shows are for entertainment mainly.


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