Take A Shower But No Sleep – The Rebellion of the 90’s Generation in China Researched by Jean Beller

Take A Shower and Sleep means hopeless

Recently, an innovative video from a commercial campaign has gone viral on China social media.

The viral video, Should post 90s follow the advice as “Go take a shower and sleep”?, has a youthful, female centered, take on the post-90’s life. The girls, in this emotional video, who are just starting to get their feet wet in the workplace are stressed and uneasy about being a part of the working-class. Stigmas formed about this generation are widespread, and in this modernistic advert, the things people say about these girls are shown as tattoos which suddenly appear on the protagonist’s bodies as people judge them throughout their daily routine.

As the clip repeatedly references an idiomatic phrase, “take shower and sleep”, which is actually a popular slang in Chinese, it suggests that someone is hopeless and should give up. Nevertheless, in the video, Olay symbolizes an energetic approach to show how the young ladies can prove themselves even after harsh criticism of their work. These girls are seen taking a shower and do not have an opportunity to sleep. Like going to the spa to cleanse and wipe away life’s stresses, Olay’s body wash represents a spa at home to re-adjust their state of mind, get rid of self-doubt and societal manipulation, and push on working to prove that they have what it takes, and their youthfulness won’t hinder them. However, it will strengthen and enable young women all over to continue fighting for a successful future.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVNbflahLpQ

“Label in younger generations” phenomenon in China

Generation gaps aren’t unique to China; they exist all over the world. However, due to recent things happening in China and rapid economic and cultural development, the gap between post 90’s and elders are strikingly different in China than in the recent past.

Respecting the elderly is a well known tradition in Asian countries, take Japan and Korea in particularly, they have been very critical of younger generations since ancient times. At the same time aging adults in China, it seems, have gone further in their efforts to maintain a conservative culture. It appears that they have even gone as far as enacting laws that require these youthful wage-earners to visit their parents at important moments in traditional Chinese culture like Chinese New Year.

If the traditional side of China’s previous generations are able to convince the youth of today about the importance of these traditional values, they will share common ground that will bridge the age gap and diversity currently seen in this new generation. The idea, “beating is a sign of affection, cursing is a sign of love”, when it comes to admonishing youth, shows many people’s views towards obedience to an older person. The seniority-based system in the workplace is deeply-rooted in business today, which consequently suppresses an entry-level workers results in general. It also hinders plenty of young people’s initiative, positivity, and creativity, which are predominantly restrained by senior employees at their first job as depicted in the video.

This post-90s generation, those who are born after 1990, seem to severely suffer unprecedented stress in the workplace. If Alibaba’s “Single’s Day” sales figures in China of over $66 billion CNY wasn’t enough proof, this unprecedented growth within the country’s rampant consumerism and globalization is staggering. This  staggering figure adds to the labeling of this generation as being vain, cynical, sentimental, weak, sensitive, narcissistic, mindlessly starstruck, unreliable, and overall hopeless, again, according to public perception.

Since 2012, this group has started to infuse itself into the workplace; this young uncertain workforce is simplistically perceived as self-centered, idealistic, rebellious, ambitious, and unrestrained. Due to the previously closed society, which restricted these characteristics, that were present in other cultures of those times, these common behaviors are still misunderstood today. “Take a shower and sleep”, a slang of discouragement and mockery, is usually heard and spoken within the millennial generation.

As a result of a major shift in the meaning, the phrase “Take Shower But No Sleep” is aggressively rebelling against the older cultural norms and is currently going viral after it was posted online.

Wash off the label, the Rebellion of 90’s Generation in China

China’s older generations, who often go to afternoon tea or Dim Sum for brunch to converse with colleagues or friends, are often uncertain of the constantly changing youth of today because they aren’t expressing themselves in the same manner as older generations and the same view. Group meeting or public meetings aren’t normally associated with high school and college students. As they flock to the internet on their smartphones and computers, the growing strength of online users is often misunderstood until you read the comments that they are posting. “The film brings light to the reality of post-90s’ work life…”, said Sijia Wei, a renowned fashion blogger. “…in a pretty creative, touching and empowering way: the three girls adjust themselves to (the) harsh environment and decisively accept challenges, while confronted with biased labels and huge work pressures.”

It is, “…a positive work spirit of our generation.”, Weiwei Qu, a popular post-90’s author, added to this dialogue. She also went on to share her thoughts on the video in a deeper way and stated that this could be the motto for the post-90s develop successful characters in the past I’ve interviewed, while they are from different professions.”

There has been an important and still unclear shift in the newer generations in China. Young Chinese in their early twenties have expressed more desires, individualistic  tendencies in regards to working attitudes and various attitudes about gender perceptions than their parents and the people nearing retirement. Millions of youth  in this generation are facing these established systems in China with new eyes.

According to China Daily, a growing number of Chinese post-90’s, who have created around 28 million, have made online stores and just started their own businesses in recent years. This fact is being recognized as further proof of the generation’s greater independence and resistance against age discrimination. As Yijia Zhang, a member of this young generation of entrepreneurs, puts it, “The more words like take a shower and sleep that I’ve heard, the more aggressively I go for success and rebel against youth discrimination.” These brand new ideas and values are constantly popping up in society as important values.

A Long Way To Go

The post-90s might be game changers when it comes to the attitude towards work in China. As post-90’s enter the labour market, it is becoming apparent that they have a more individualistic attitude toward work.

The campaign “Take Shower But No Sleep” has received an enthusiastic response from the post-90’s. Additionally, this new spirit of self-empowerment to gain corporate or entrepreneurial success might be one of the biggest boost to effectively get rid of societal prejudice, which is a major issue that people have been discussing and questioning.

At the moment, washing off these labels and self-readjusting is only a one-way to alleviate the pressure and discrimination against today’s new and upcoming  Chinese workforce. Age bias and corresponding work pressures depicted in the advertisement prevail amongst the aging workforce, and both sides are simultaneously trying to understand each other more while focusing on their careers.

Even though many in China believe the working ability of an individual is related to their age and they think that this new breed of worker still has a long way to go to show competency, the current workforce, containing multiple age groups, is rapidly growing to include these young laborers. These Post-90’s workers, like prior generations, will need time to prove they are truly reliable and up for the task that is before them.

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