There is no such thing as a Leftover Woman

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Scrolling through my WordPress feed earlier, I saw this title ”Don’t let pressure dictate your life.” I scanned a few sentences but I didn’t stop at that post because of the words, I stopped because I saw the picture of a woman crying. And that caught my attention. Why is she crying? What kind of pressure is she under? I wanted to find out.


I clicked the link and I watched the video. It’s been made by skincare brand SK-II, who’ve highlighted this issue ( perhaps with good intentions although it doesn’t sit well with me because why haven’t they asked men the same thing? There are some men who deal with this very pressure even if there’s only a few of them). I hadn’t even got to a minute in the video before I felt anger rising, by 3 minutes I was just raging.  This is a video about single Chinese women, who are known in China as ”Leftover Women” because if you happen to be single aged 25 and over that is what you are apparently, leftover. But this video didn’t just make me angry it upset me, my eyes were filled with tears, I could feel their sadness and not because I am single but because I am a woman.

Like so many issues regarding women’s equality I’ve been reading about, happening around the world this year and all the information I’ve been hoarding I see more and more that I am a part of the gender group who still endure the majority of the bullshit that this world has to offer. We are the ones who are always getting the short end of the stick, we’re always the ones made to feel shamed, less than, unworthy, inferior and weak.

During the length of the video these women, all beautiful, smart, independent women who deeply love their parents, are told by those same parents in this very video things such as, and I’m paraphrasing here – ”If you don’t marry, it will be like a heart disease for me” , ”Get married, stop being cruel to me.” One mother actually said these words, whilst sitting next to her daughter, ”My daughter is just average, not beautiful, that’s why she hasn’t gotten married.” The camera then cuts to the daughter who is sitting there, broken, clearly and obviously broken, her bottom lip quivering as she tries to hold back tears. How do you do that to someone? Break them down because of their looks? It’s as if to say that only beautiful women are worthy of being married. All other women should just shut it and accept their doomed life alone. This kind of shit breeds so many insecurities, self-loathing behaviour and talk, irrational body issues and psychological illnesses.

Who is getting to choose who is beautiful and average here? The folks? The society? The men? And why is it that we women, have to carry all this nonsense?  The guilt of letting people down, the fear of being alone, the fear of losing our looks and youth and being undesirable, the deafening tick-tock of our biological clock. I truly believe that marriage is a beautiful thing, a respected and sacred commitment to make with another person, but good grief it is not the finest thing this world has to offer because if it were divorce would not exist.

The women in the video were so desperate to please their parents that they’ve considered just marrying someone, anyone, who is suitable over someone they actually love. (In the end their parents accept their single status but what about the women not in the video who are still being put down because of it?). There must be thousands of women around the world who accepted marriage to please any other person who was not themself. Which only contributes to creating a generation of girls and boys who will be filled with the wrong beliefs about life and love because they grew up in a home with artificial affection and/or a resentful parent/s.

This isn’t just a Chinese issue. Any woman in any corner of the world can relate to this. Women everywhere are made to feel inferior, some over being single, some over not having kids, some over having/not having a career, whatever it may be, it is SOMETHING. Something to make her feel less than someone else and not only by men, by other women too. Other women who rather than stick up for a fellow woman, decides to join in with others and keep her down. Other women who will become mothers who will sit next to their daughters blaming her looks for her being single, crushing her spirit.

I’ve had loads of chats with single women about all the ridiculous shit we’ve each heard or the shitty remarks we’ve endured and they often admit to feeling the pressure to marry just so they can give their parents a grandchild. Is this a valid reason to marry someone? To commit yourself to a person, just to please your parents? There are so many women out here in the world  being stressed into making terrible, impulsive decisions because they can’t stand being picked on anymore, they just want to escape.

But how do we stop this trend? This incessant, ceaseless pursuit of putting women down at every freakin’ turn?

I have an idea.

It’s a small idea but it’s an idea nonetheless.

How about every person that reads this post, whenever you do, whoever you are (man or woman) makes the decision right now to just stop. To say, ”Now that I know this, I will be more empathetic to women (single or not), I see the way the world pressures them, far FAR more than men and I will stop myself from being just another person who adds to the pressure. I won’t contribute to the mess that’s been made of their capabilities and self-worth. I won’t be just another person with old-fashioned beliefs out to put them down. There are no leftover women, there are only women. Period.”

I think if each person advances with just this one thought, one person at a time we can change the thinking of the society around us. What if one of us has a daughter who isn’t married by age 30 or 35? Then what? How would anyone like their child referred to as a leftover? It has to start with us, so that all the daughters to come into this world will never have to go through this shit.







7 thoughts on “There is no such thing as a Leftover Woman

  1. Powerful words. Well said. I have two unmarried daughters of 28 and 30. And a granddaughter of 4. These girls hold down responsible and rewarding jobs. They are happy as they are and live good lives. They may get married in the future. Or not. They are both strong feminists and speak up for other females. As do I. You are right. We all must speak out and make a difference, little by little.


    1. That’s what it’s about, growing into responsible, loving women who help other women not put them down 🙂 The world needs more mums like you who encourage independence and personal happiness first! I’ve been reading on Twitter and see a lot of comments from Indian women agreeing to having the same pressures as the Chinese so the more of us who speak up the closer we can get to making a difference, even if it takes another decade!


  2. I’ve never come across this. It is shocking. My family and even people I know- their family- haven’t been pressurised. I wonder if this a culture thing. I suspect it is. I was never pushed to marry anyone. When I did finally announce I was getting married my Ma took over and is making sure my wedding day is the perfect day. She says it is a mothers dream too plan their daughters wedding tht I only found out after making my own decision to get married.


    1. I think to some degree it is a culture thing. But single shaming is a universal one. You are one of the lucky ones if you’ve never experienced any negativity about it. All the best with your big day! X


  3. wow. It really questions the parents real love for their daughters. as though they were born to make them happy and give them their dreams and desires. Who needs that kind of pressure.


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