Although single women in the United States are increasingly recognized as a growing political force, in China, a harrowing stigma is attached to being single, particularly for women over the age of 25.
Dubbed "sheng nu," or "leftover women," single Chinese women face an inordinate amount of societal and familial pressure to marry (and subsequently bear children). Even the government has gotten involved: Leta Hong Fincher, author of Leftover Women, The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, a book that highlights the structural discrimination of Chinese women, told Yahoo that authorities coined the term "leftover women" to push educated women into marriage, its ultimate goal to improve its population "quality."
In a painfully revealing video by skincare brand SK-II, China's "leftover women" give a firsthand account of the burden of marriage weighing over them and what it means to have their worth assessed not by their achievements or happiness, but by marital status.
The women who appear in the video discuss the painful struggle of being single: some do want to marry, but don't want to settle for just anyone; some are fulfilled as they are, but are pushed to sharing their lives with someone else.
"You become a subject that people talk about and you get so much social pressure," one women says. "In Chinese society, people think that an unmarried woman is incomplete. You feel like an outsider."
The video then cuts to a Marriage Market in China, where pathways are lined with umbrellas that parents attach their sons' and daughters' profiles to — age, height, occupation, income, and more.
"It's like selling your daughter," one of the women in the video jokes.
Towards the end, these women decide to participate in the Marriage Market — but only to show their parents that they are more than their marital status.
"As opposed to the term 'leftover woman' — I have a great career and there is another term called 'power woman'," one woman says.
Watch the heartbreaking video here: