Having a Chinese friend, especially one that speaks English fluently, can be a fantastic introduction to life and culture in China. I’ve had a few Chinese friends while in China, but none as good as Suzzy. Suzzy, after only knowing me for a few days, invited me to her house in Tianjin. Since she attends college in Indiana, she knows a lot about Western and American culture, but she always made a point to introduce me to new aspects of Chinese culture that I may not have grasped in just seven months abroad.
Since Suzzy has spent a year studying in the US, she has very open ideas about the world, politics and culture, however, Suzzy also has a few very “Chinese” beliefs that come out and surprise me every now and again.
One day Suzzy and I were walking to the Wuduaokou bargaining market to get some cheap clothes and accessories, and I asked the question I have been wondering for a while:
“Why don’t most Chinese girls shave?”
Suzzy doesn’t shave, although she has almost no hair on her body, so I figured she would be the perfect person to ask.
“Shaving your underarms gives you breast cancer.”
“It’s a sensitive area and if you shave it, you will get breast cancer.”
“But Suzzy, you smoke cigarettes, aren’t you worried about lung cancer?”
“Chinese people have been smoking for a long time throughout our history so our lungs are stronger.”
Every time I think I have China figured out… let’s just hope I don’t get breast cancer.