If we had to write up a list of things that need changing in China, the world’s most populous and oldest country, we might focus on issues of humanitarian rights, slave labor, environmental pollution, or banning Jackie Chan films. But, as recent tensions over the renaming of a treasured mountain peek after an “Avatar” location revealed, the Chinese have unique concerns that we just can’t anticipate. For instance, not only is wearing pajamas in public (something we haven’t done since sophomore year college) a trend in Chinese cities, but the citizens and government of the People’s Republic consider it a leading “nuisance” and “threat” to the security of the state. Now, in preparation for the 2010 World Expo beginning in May, the authorities are cracking down on the somewhat adorable practice, sending many a terry-clad dissident running for the safety of his or her bedroom.
The reasons Chinese citizens wear their pjs in the streets are legion—tight living conditions make the line between private and public hard to define, pajamas became a trend first in the 1930s when the ability purchase them became a symbol of status and wealth, while an Indian invention, they actually resemble traditional Chinese dress more so than modern Western-influenced clothing, Shanghai can be hot in the summer, and, let’s face it, the darn things are just comfortable. So far, it’s only community boards that are taking on what many Chinese believe to be a national scourge, but as China continues to try to impress the West with its new-found worldliness and business savvy, can it be that long until more serious measures are enacted? Also, if the Chinese are actually successful in removing the feared pajamas from their streets, it would give hope to American activists still struggling against our own national sartorial crisis, the Ugg boot.
For more insights and travel tips to unlocking the secrets of China pick up a copy of our “Film + Travel” series. Take it on your journeys or enjoy it from the safety of your own bed.
Top—Courtesy of National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
Bottom: From dbmboise’s Flickr photostream.