“White, rich, and beautiful” is the female version of “tall, dark, and handsome” in China, where a research institute in Beijing promises to make women just that.
Tsinghua University reposted photos of female graduates before and after they studied there, supposedly after the images went viral.
The trend was meant to have been started by a student called Li Lin, who was reported as having put her own photos online, showing her as dark-skinned before she attended Tsinghua, but now fair and beautiful, according to Tencent News.
Then more Tsinghua alumni uploaded their before and after photos, describing a similar experience. Some Chinese bloggers started joking about it, saying: “Off to Tsinghua to become white, rich, and beautiful.”
However, when the admission office shared the photos on its official blog, netizens became suspicious that the girls were part of a publicity campaign to get more students, now that the admissions season has started.
A spokesman denied the accusation, saying: “During their four years of study, students’ appearance may not change, but they definitely become confident and elegant. They can face challenges with a calm mind, and will work hard to make changes.”
A netizen on Sina Weibo wrote: “Tsinghua University is using these girls as a selling point for enrollments, but not based on their academic achievements. This is really shameful.”
Another commented: “Be careful, ladies. Some people might consider you to be ‘too cheap.'”
Interestingly, the institution has a less-than-glamorous association in its past, after a former chemistry student used thallium to poison her classmate, Zhu Ling, out of jealousy in 1995. Zhu’s experience there was totally the opposite: Before she became a student, she was talented and beautiful, but the attack left her deformed with brain damage, and she now has to be cared for by her elderly parents.