Speaking to Red Star News (in Chinese), workers at several Uniqlo locations in Shanghai and Nanjing said that they had grown used to female shoppers bringing a bunch of T-shirts — which were clearly made for kids and too small for them — to changing rooms, snapping photos, and leaving the store without purchasing anything.
The garments featured in the selfies were often left damaged with make-up stains and stretched to their limits. Some of the shop assistants said that they would discourage customers from trying on clothes that obviously did not fit, but ultimately they had to please the customers.
As the craze grew, so did criticism. Body-positive activists and feminists said that people who participated in the trend were knowingly— or recklessly — pressuring girls into extreme weight loss, and setting unrealistic beauty expectations tailored for the male gaze. “This is so stupid and potentially hurtful to people who have body issues,” a Weibo user wrote (in Chinese).
Many also pointed out that the aesthetic preference embodied in the trend was closely tied to an Italian fashion brand named Brandy Melville, which preaches a one-size-fits-all policy, but only sells clothing in extra small size. Despite its tightly conscribed size range, the retailer has, since opening a store in Shanghai in 2019, developed a cult following among Chinese millennial and Gen-Z women, who adore its low prices and whimsical, retro California designs.