Linda Chen stands 167 centimeters tall and weighs 58 kilograms. No one would call her fat - but she's obsessed with body image. She can pinch a little fat at her waist. She's on a crash diet.
For the past two weeks, the 26-year-old white collar has been eating a slice of whole-wheat bread and a cup of milk for breakfast, an egg white and an apple or two tomatoes for lunch and two kiwi fruits (kiwi is very nutritious) for dinner before 7pm. She occasionally jogs, but doesn't exercise regularly.
So far she has lost 2 kilograms and hopes to lose two more in a few weeks.
"I want a slimmer waist and sharper chin so that I can confidently wear fitted light-weight clothes in summer," says Chen, who periodically diets.
Experts say that Chen's choices are not bad, though they should be varied, but she's eating far to less for a working person.
"I want to lose weight" seems to be every young woman's mantra these days, especially as spring approaches with it tantalizing fashions.
They want long slim legs, a wasp waist, defined collar bones, a nice bottom and narrow chin, like models on runways, TV and in advertising.
They may starve themselves, try fad diets, take all kinds of pills, eat spicy food, take laxatives, drink black coffee after meals. They usually don't exercise regularly.
Around this time of year, doctors and nutritionists routinely warn against crash diets and losing too much weight. Trim and fit is the idea; lose fat, not muscle. Keep your body fueled and drink lots of water to burn fat efficiently.
Volumes have been written on body image and the trend toward rake-thinness by young women who want to be fashionable.
Chen has gone on diets in the past, but it's hard to resist delicious food, and she envies those girls who never seem to gain weight. She vows to stick to her diet this time.
"Getting a slim figure is hard work. I'm already sick of the smell of kiwi," says Chen. "But beauty is a slim figure in most men's eyes, right?"
There's truth there.
But recent online research in Shanghai yields a somewhat different finding.
Most men do look first for a nice figure, but none like skinny girls, according to an online survey early this year by the Shanghai Evening Post and Sohu.com.
Around 700 men took part. The results: 46 percent said they would look first at a girl's body, 40 percent the face, 7 percent go for hair and 6 percent check the skin.
As for the ideal figure: 60 percent said they liked a girl with "a soft figure with a beautiful body line," 25 percent prefer "fit and trim," 13 percent like girls "with plump breasts and bottom or a wasp waist and round bottom." Only 2 percent chose "skinny" girls.