Shanghai beach babes bust bikini barrier

Shanghai beach babes bust bikini barrier

From using beauty as "capital" to upside down bikinis, the stars of the Beach Honey awards are making China safe for racy beach fashion

shanghai beach honey -- groupShanghai may not have the best beaches in Asia, but the city makes up for it with skimpy fashion. Bikinis are not widely accepted in many other parts of China.Let’s face it -- most readers won’t care about what we write in this post. 

For those who actually do, congratulations, because you're about to learn how you can participate in one of the sexiest events in Shanghai this summer.

After nearly four months of national draft, the 2011 Beach Honey competition -- organized by Shanghai's Dino Beach water park -- is coming to a head this month, with semifinals scheduled on August 11 and August 16, and the finals on August 20 and 21.

Who better to explain the rigors of bikini competition than champion beach honeys from last year’s competition?

Each of the five below will appear as guest stars during this year's Beach Honey finals. Assuming that you'll be too shy to chat them up in person, we've kindly taken it upon ourselves to break the ice with questions about parental approval and the roles of beauty and plastic surgery in evolving China.

Click on each girl in the flash below for more images and a one-on-one interview.

getting there

Dino Beach

78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu
新镇路78号, 近顾戴路
+ 86 21 6478 3333
RMB 120 (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday), RMB 150 (Wednesday and Friday), RMB 200 (Saturday and Sunday)
All Beach Honey contests start from 12:30 p.m..

Zhou Weijia (周维佳)

shanghai beach honey -- zhou weijiaZhou Weijia, 20, thinks happiness outweighs beauty.
Rank: Top 16 and runner-up in the “cutest babe” category
Age: 20
From: Shanghai
Occupation: Student at USST 

CNNGo: Why did you enter the competition?

Zhou Weijia: I had just graduated from high school and finished my university entrance examination back then. That was a really stressful period of time for me, so I entered this competition to relax myself.

CNNGo: Did your parents oppose your wearing bikini in public?

Zhou: No, my parents are very open-minded. They support what I like.

shanghai beach honey -- zhou weijiaThe Shanghai native loves beaches, but she cares more about her white skin.

Critique your own figure.

Zhou: My most satisfactory part is my waist, it is really small. Also, I have a small bone structure. It makes me look skinny. But I think my thighs are too fat, and my leg-and-torso ratio is too low.

All in all, I think my figure is still less than satisfactory. I would also like my skin to be as white as possible.

CNNGo: The most difficult part of the competition?

Zhou: Losing weight. I was skinny at school, but when I came to this competition, I realized everyone was really skinny.

I had to cut down my meals to twice a day. I remember my thinnest time during the competition, I was only 41 kilos.

CNNGo: Do you approve of plastic surgery to enhance beauty?

Zhou: I have no problem with minor plastic surgeries on my face, but not the body.

Everyone has a right to pursue beauty. I’m fine with my friends having plastic surgeries, also. It’s really normal. I even suggest to my friends to consider plastic surgeries (when I think they need to have them).

shanghai beach honey -- zhou weijiaZhou says losing weight is the most important skill for bikini beauties.

CNNGo: What’s your standard for your future husband?

Zhou: Realistically, I would want him to have a car and a house at best, and I like athletic and happy boys, those tall and skinny ones.

CNNGo: Do you care about news?

Zhou: Yes. I read news online and through weibo. Recently, I have been following the high-speed rail accident.

But I still dare to take the high-speed trains. One cannot avoid taking it because of one single accident.

CNNGo: What does beauty mean to you?

Zhou: Beauty is only a very small part of my life. Being happy is the most important thing. That’s what life is about.

Click to read about Zhuang Jingjing, Cheng Lang, Dong Fangqi and Yang Jin. Return to the navigation

Zhuang Jingjing (庄京京)

shanghai beach honey -- zhuang jingjingTomboy Zhuang Jingjing was voted the “spiciest babe” in last year's Beach Honey competition.
Rank: Winner of the “spiciest babe” award
Age: 22
From: Hunan
Occupation: Student at Guangdong Ocean University

CNNGo: What made you the spiciest?

Zhuang Jingjing: It’s probably because I’m not typically girly. I’m a tomboy and I’m really careless in life. Also, I posed in ways the others didn’t dare to.

When I was on the stage, I was too nervous to think of anything. But you could just tell from the audience reaction. Every time when I showed up, the whole audience just went wild. They were really cheering.

CNNGo: The most difficult part of the competition?

Zhuang: Being cute. We had a section in every contest called “Kawaii Fashion,” which required girls to pose in the cutest ways possible. I couldn’t do it. It was my weakest section. I am a cool girl.

CNNGo: How did your parents feel about you wearing bikini in public?

Zhuang: My parents were strongly against me attending the Beach Honey competition at the beginning. They thought wearing bikinis is only for Western people, and it is nothing different from walking on the street in underwear.

My close friends helped me a lot to convince my parents that this was not as much of a bad thing as they thought. Later on, they just agreed by default.

shanghai beach honey -- zhuang jingjingZhuang's biggest challenge is to be "kawaii" in bikinis.

CNNGo: Critique your own figure.

Zhuang: Overall, it is just OK, but I don’t like my face and my waist, and I never consider myself beautiful.

CNNGo: Are you OK with plastic surgery?

Zhuang: No, and my family would be firmly against it, too. I got my body from my parents, and it is something I should cherish.

However, I’m not against people pursuing beauty in natural ways.

CNNGo: As the “spiciest girl,” you must have some real passionate fans.

Zhuang: Last year during the competition, I had a fan who really paid attention to me, and followed me to every contest and even the whole team when the others and I left Dino Beach.

I remember one time, when I was sitting in the shuttle bus back to our hotel, I saw that fan chasing our bus and shouting: "Zhuang Jingjing, please talk with me."

Of course, I didn’t get off and talk to him. We were not allowed to do that.

shanghai beach honey -- zhuang jingjing"What does beauty mean to me? Mm ... I've never thought about that before."

CNNGo: What does beauty mean to you?

Zhuang: I don’t know. I have never thought about that before.

CNNGo: Do you care about news?

Zhuang: Yes, I do, closely actually.

I’m very interested to dig up and follow the truth behind the news in China.

Lately, I have been paying attention to the high-speed rail accident, and I did some profound thinking. It is really sad that the train driver was the one to blame for driving when he was tired.

People just need to enjoy themselves and do what they wish to do as much as they can, as they can’t really predict disasters now that even the advanced high-speed rail had a major disaster.

Click to read about Zhou Weijia, Cheng Lang, Dong Fangqi and Yang Jin. Return to the navigation

Cheng Lang (成琅)

shanghai beach honey -- Cheng langWhile glamorous on stage and in front of the camera, Cheng Lang has never been picked up in real life.

The “sunniest babe” and sixth in overall ranking
Age: 22
From: Jiangsu
Occupation: Yoga instructor

CNNGo: Does your job make it easier to model bikinis on stage?

Cheng Lang: Yes, a little bit. I teach students everyday wearing very tight yoga clothes, and yoga helps shape my body better.

CNNGo: How did you become a yoga teacher?

Cheng: I took some dance classes during childhood, so when I was practicing yoga in the gym, I found my body far more flexible than the others'. I could do many postures that others couldn’t. So I thought,"Why not be a yoga teacher?"

CNNGo: What is the most difficult yoga posture for you?

Cheng: Headstand.

shanghai beach honey -- Cheng langTeaching yoga gives Cheng confidence when wearing bikinis.

Critique your own figure.

Cheng: I don’t like my legs. I hope to stretch them to be longer. But I like my eyes the most. Although I don’t have a perfect body, eyes can usually reflect one’s heart.

CNNGo: The most difficult part of the competition?

Cheng: I didn’t meet any real difficulties during the competition, but it was the stress that was hard to cope with, especially when you went further into the competition.

Also, our training camp was pretty tough -- they trained us to dance and catwalk. I had never received any training like that and the camp was totally blocked from the outside world.

CNNGo: Did your parents oppose your wearing a bikini in public?

Cheng: No, they were really supportive. My mother was very open-minded.

CNNGo: The best pickup line you've heard so far?

Cheng: I have never been picked up before by strangers. In daily life, I wear bikinis when I go swimming. Guys will come close and check up on me, but they never say anything. I think it is because they are shy.

shanghai beach honey -- Cheng langCheng enjoys posing, but says the Beach Honey dance and catwalk boot camp was a nightmare.

Do you care about news?

Cheng: Yes, with the cell phone, it is really easy to follow the daily news. I watch CCTV a lot. I pay a lot of attention to China’s domestic affairs.

CNNGo: How about international news?

Cheng: I only follow protests and demonstrations abroad.

Click to read about Zhou Weijia, Zhuang Jingjing, Dong Fangqi and Yang Jin. Return to the navigation

Dong Fangqi (董方启)

shanghai beach honey -- Dong FangqiDong Fangqi, 22, was the most popular contestant online in last year's Beach Honey competition.

The “most popular babe” voted by netizens, winner of the “most beautiful legs” award and fifth in overall ranking
Age: 22
From: Shanghai
Occupation: Student at SSPU

CNNGo: Why do you think you were so popular online?

Dong Fangqi: Maybe because I’m a student, and I have a lot of schoolmates, so I have a bigger online influence. Even strangers at school voted for me.

CNNGo: The most unforgettable part of the competition?

Dong: In the last round of the “most beautiful legs” awards, my two competitors were really tall, one 170 centimeters and the other 174 centimeters, and I am only 164 centimeters. The emcee asked if I was confident. I said no because I was half a head shorter than them. Then the emcee told me: "We are selecting the most beautiful legs, not a giraffe."

CNNGo: Are you OK with plastic surgery?

Dong: I can accept it, but my parents won’t let me. I agree with minor surgeries to help people improve natural defects. But if someone does a dramatic plastic surgery just to be famous, it won’t help in the long run.

shanghai beach honey -- Dong FangqiShanghai-born Dong is a big fan of F1.

What’s the best way for a stranger to get to know you?

Dong: Don’t judge me by my appearance. Get to know me through my life.

CNNGo: The funniest pickup line you’ve heard?

Dong: When the other girls and I were in Malaysia doing a video for Beach Honey, some foreign tourists came up and asked for a group photo with us. They tried to make friends with me and asked: "Can I have your Facebook?" I said: "No, we cannot use it in China."

"Then can I have your Twitter account?" They went on. "No, we cannot use it in China," I answered. They left afterward.

CNNGo: Was it difficult getting used to wearing a bikini?

Dong: I remember I spent as long as I could in the dressing room when I tried on a bikini for the first time. Some of the other girls were having trouble wearing their bikinis properly. One common mistake was that they wore the bikinis upside down.

shanghai beach honey -- Dong FangqiDong signed up with the NGO government-founded charity organization.

Do you care about news?

Dong: Yes, especially the sports news. I love watching F1. The most exciting news for me in July was Alonso’s victory [at Silverstone].

CNNGo: Is doing charity an important part of being a beauty queen?

Dong: I think it’s important for people to do more volunteer and charity works in their spare time. For me, I have also signed up for the NGO website.

CNNGo: Which NGO?

Dong: There is only one in China. NGO is a government-founded charity organization, and it does a lot of charity projects. That’s the one I joined.

Click to read about Zhou Weijia, Zhuang Jingjing, Cheng Lang and Yang Jin. Return to the navigation

Yang Jin (杨谨)

shanghai beach honey -- Yang JingAn ambitious 21-year-old, Yang Jing considers herself the hottest beach honey of them all.

Fourth in overall ranking
Age: 21
From: Sichuan
Occupation: Student at SWUST

CNNGo: Are you satisfied with your performance in last year’s competition?

Yang Jin: No, I’m not satisfied. I think I should have been the number one.

CNNGo: What did you think of yourself when you put on a bikini for the first time?

Yang: I felt really weird, especially the first time when I saw myself in the mirror. Wearing a bikini is culturally unacceptable in China, and [once you do that,] people will look at you in a creepy way.

I’m used to wearing a bikini now. It’s really sexy at the back, with only one string across. I wouldn’t want to switch back to a normal swimsuit.

CNNGo: Did your parents oppose your wearing a bikini in public?

Yang: My mom was fine with it, but my dad didn’t feel comfortable in the beginning. I did some bikini shots for a magazine, and my dad didn’t even read that page in the magazine. He jumped over it immediately. I guess he didn’t want his daughter to be checked out by the readers in a sexual way.

But now he is fine with it, because he realized that Beach Honey is a healthy organization. It doesn’t require the applicants to have big breasts. It stresses positive lifestyle.

shanghai beach honey -- Yang JingYang considers beauty her life "capital."

Sichuan is far more conservative than Shanghai. Do you really wear a bikini when you swim?

Yang: Yes, the last time I went back to my hometown, I did. In my hometown, you never see people wearing bikinis in swimming pools.

That time, I couldn’t find any swimsuits at home, so I wore my bikini. When I took off my overcoat, all the guys in the swimming pool gathered and checked me out.

I felt everyone was looking at me. Some went past me and yelled or whistled. If I were a guy, I would also do that because girls just don’t wear bikinis in Deyang.

CNNGo: What does beauty mean to you?

Yang: My beauty is my capital. In today’s society, people always go for the prettier one if two girls are applying for the same thing. You can only proceed once you have got your "capital."

shanghai beach honey -- Yang JingYang was once surrounded by guys for wearing a bikini in Deyang, Sichuan, a more traditional part of China.

CNNGo: You are from Deyang, the Sichuan earthquake epicenter. Tell us something about the quake?

Yang: My hometown was the most-stricken spot in the earthquake. I was in my last year at high school. My family didn’t have any casualties, but my friends’ did. It was the most horrible experience I have ever had.

I asked my parents to take me to visit some of the collapsed buildings. One thing I can’t forget was a mom, with her intestines fallen out, holding her kid till the last minute.

If I could, I would use my beauty to help them. I would rather not be wearing bikinis for the rest of my life, or I would be fat, as long as I could help some of them.

Click to read about Zhou Weijia, Zhuang Jingjing, Cheng Lang and Dong Fangqi. Return to the navigation

Sean Hanratty is a photographer originally from Baltimore, Maryland. When not working he can be found on his bike going all over the place, including an Oreo and PB&J fueled trek to Suzhou.

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Tracy You is a bilingual journalist based in Shanghai and has worked for several publications including as Editor for CNN Travel. She's a fan of history, British TV and Wii Guitar Hero.

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