Toxic beauty standards: Chinese teen dies after losing 25kg to impress a boy

PHOTO via Sanook

A Chinese girl, 15 years old, dies after losing 25kg in a quest to win over a boy who preferred thinner women, raising concerns regarding beauty standards in social media. The teenager resorted to extreme methods to lose weight, eventually resulting in her tragic death.

The story of Xiaoling (pseudonym), 15 years old, from Tongguan in Guangdong Province, southeast China, has sparked debate on the toxic beauty standards that led to her death after she rapidly lost weight to impress a boy she liked. After her severe weight loss, she was only half the normal weight for her age.

The young man rejected Xiaoling because he prefers a thinner girl. This prompted her to devise a weight loss plan which began in January, where she solely consumed water. Her drive to lose weight intensified with the hope of gaining love from the boy.

Her parents initially assumed it was normal teenage weight loss. However, as her health deteriorated, they became increasingly worried, resulting in anger. Xiaoling violently resisted medical treatment, jumping out of moving cars and upstairs windows. Eventually, her parents managed to have her admitted to a private clinic, where she was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.

Disturbingly, Xiaoling’s extreme weight loss escalated following her diagnosis. Despite eating only vegetables, fruits and drinking water, she would still attempt to induce vomiting after meals. At her worst, she survived on only water for 50 days before collapsing and being rushed to the emergency room.

The girl, 165 centimetres tall and 24.8 kilogrammes, arrived at a Tongguan hospital unconscious with respiratory failure and severe malnutrition. Due to the rapid deterioration of her condition, she was urgently transferred to a paediatric hospital in Shenzhen.

Emergency room doctors discovered Xiaoling could not breathe independently, and her pupils were unresponsive to light, indicating severe damage to the brain stem and a state of coma. In addition, she suffered from 14 related diseases affecting her entire body. Doctors described her weight as “light as a cotton quilt.”

Despite attempts to save her life, her condition deteriorated after spending more than 20 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Her parents, after much consideration, ultimately decided to stop treatment and let their daughter go.

The tragic incident ignited outrage on Chinese social media, with netizens questioning, “Why do so many people hold the belief that being thin is a prerequisite for beauty in young girls?” and “We should learn to love ourselves – everyone is beautiful in their own way.”

Many people have become trapped by social norms and beauty standards; please listen to this podcast about defying Thai beauty standards ft. Anchilee Scott-Kemmis | Thaiger Podcast Ep. 17.

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organizations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in London, Singapore, and Bangkok. She now uncovers general stories related to Thailand.