Chinese women are now offering their services as professional bridesmaids and taking the job that nobody seems to want because of its inherently dangerous risks.
There is rising concern in China regarding the safety of women who assume the daunting task of being a bridesmaid. As a result, wedding packages in China are now offering an option to include professional bridesmaids. According to Quartz, the service is included in packages of over 50 wedding-planning companies in China.
Responsibilities for a professional bridesmaid include drinking alcohol for the bride, fending off rude guests and playing the role of make-up artist. They are expected to maintain a fun atmosphere and partake in activities that are considered vulgar by some.
Depending on the level of their services, these women are paid between 200 yuan or $30 and 800 yuan or $118 per wedding. The professional bridesmaids are typically available on weekends and work the job in addition to their weekday jobs for extra income.
Being a bridesmaid in China is not an easy task for the faint of heart. Chinese bridesmaids may be subjected to verbal harassment and physical and sexual abuse during wedding celebrations.
Wedding celebrations in China, regardless of status or class, can involve physical and sexual harassment of bridesmaids. Not too long ago, video footage showing famous Chinese actress, Liu Yan, almost being thrown into a pool by groomsmen stirred controversy among users on Weibo.
The actress was a bridesmaid attending wedding celebrations of Chinese actor Bao Beier in March. In response to the heated debate from the viral video, Liu posted a video offering an apology to the groom. Some speculated that the apology was a result of social media pressure.
In 2015, a video surfaced showing a bridesmaid being groped in front of a crowd of people at a wedding in Hainan. The woman attempts to block their attempts, but individuals in the crowd can be seen pulling her hands away to allow the men access. The footage sparked outrage among Chinese netizens who called the behavior “vulgar” and “immoral.”
Along with catering to the needs of the bride, the women are also expected to drink on behalf of the bride when she receives drinking requests. The death of a 28-year-old bridesmaid in Wenchang, Hainan province last September is one example in which a woman was pressured into drinking in excessive amounts. Women suffer serious risks of alcohol poisoning and even death as the result in this case.
Reports of these cases are concentrated in rural areas and provinces such as Shandong and Hainan. It is believed that wedding occasions “legitimize the explicit expression of sexual desire for some men” who are forced to repress their feelings in a society that makes sex taboo.