Sometimes image is everything-even when it comes to a young Chinese singer who was chosen to sing ‘ode to the Motherland’ at the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony. Many onlookers and reporters lauded the girl in the red dress who sang for the occasion.
But this week it was uncovered that the young girl, Lin Miaoke, who everyone saw sing at the ceremony was ‘lent’ someone else’s voice, a 7 year old singer Yang Peivi. The reason? Apparently Yang’s uneven teeth, were considered potentially damaging to China’s international image.
Yang Peiyi (left) was replaced by Lin Miaoke who mimed "Ode to the Motherland" to Yang’s voice
According to a report by Guardian writer Tania Branigan, the decision came following high-level discussions – which included a member of the Politburo – on the relative photogenicity of small children.
As Branigan reports, Chen Qigang, the event’s general music designer, explained to a Beijing radio station, "This is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture. Especially the entrance of our national flag; this is an extremely important, extremely serious matter,"
"We made the decision that the voice we would use was Yang Peiyi’s. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression. "Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in the aspect of voice, Yang Peiyi is flawless," he explained.
"I think it is fair to both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi. That is to say, we have a perfect voice, and a perfect image and representation – in our team’s view – combined together."
According to Branigan, it appears that Lin, already a veteran of TV adverts, may not have been aware that Yang’s voice was used. Chen said they had recordings of both girls and their voices were fairly similar.
Interestingly, research by Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, has suggested that the "beauty premium" in parts of China is far more pronounced than in the west for women. Dr Hamermesh’s work shows that unattractive people earn below the average income while beautiful people earn more.
This is taking the notion of ‘image is everything’ to a whole other level. So is it true that beauty has a premium? Even here in the US this bias is very prevalent, with everyday women subjecting themselves to plastic surgery, starvation diets and negative body perceptions to fit some beauty standard concocted by whom? The media? Men? Society at large? Clothing designers? All of the above?
So sadly, it appears, even though beauty should be in the eye of the beholder, ‘standards’ of beauty are created in every culture—some more critical than others. It would be nice though, when considering the self esteem of young girls especially, that we leave them out of these prejudices.
The Image Diva, Elan IMage Management