The Four Faces of Chinese People (women, really)

Disclaimer: I just pulled random Google Image results. No thought or care has been given to the content of source. Sorry if I’m linking to something weird.

The other day in English class we were talking about hair styles and one boy said he thought the shīfu 师傅 (in this case, “barber”) should consider your face shape (liǎnxíng 脸型) when recommending a hair style.

This lead me to say, “Um… what are the choices for face shapes?”

The class agree there were some “standard” face shapes that everyone talks about (I think it’s girls mostly).

A quick Google Images search for each of the four, respectively, lead me to some images.

The two everyone wants are:

1) guāzǐ liǎn 瓜子脸 = Mellon-seed Face

2) é dàn liǎn 鹅蛋脸 = Goose-egg Face

I don’t see a huge difference, but I think the guāzǐ liǎn is just higher cheekbones and a sharper chin, generally (even though we can’t actually SEE her chin in the first picture).

Then there are the less desirable ones:

3) guó zì liǎn 国字脸 = “Country”-character Face

4) bǐng liǎn 饼脸 = Flat-cake Face

(Didn’t feel right somehow, putting up pictures of these two. You’ll have to do your own Google Search.)

Seems like those are the two that girls don’t want to have.

Anyway, it got me thinking:

  1. I don’t think there are handy, standard expressions like this to describe face shapes in English. I mean, a discussion about face shapes with people in general would be weird for me, personally. But even stranger would be if I discovered that everyone had a shared vocabulary for this in English.
  2. How funny that I could say to a Chinese girl, “You’ve got a face like a melon seed” and her response would be to beam back a huge smile and say, “Why thank you! And you’ve got a goose egg face yourself.”

Because of the high romance of that second thought, this is getting filed under “Love and Dating“! (only the second ever post to be awarded that prestigious label)

Do these seem to be well-known face shapes all over China? Feel free to leave a comment to let us know.


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  1. 16 Responses to “The Four Faces of Chinese People (women, really)”

  2. Sefet UNITED KINGDOM said:

    While there’s obviously no universal vocabulary for talking about face shapes in English, there are quite a few common terms. Horse-faced is the obvious for weak comedians talking about Sex and the City, and moon-faced is still around, but a little archaic.

    Comment date: Mar 18, 2012

  3. Alec UNITED KINGDOM said:

    There are terms which people use, especially in hairdressing magazines: heart-shaped face, oval face, square face, round face, hexagonal face. They’re not split into desirable and undesirable so much though and are less emotionally laden, but most western women will know their face shape.

    Comment date: Mar 18, 2012

  4. hanmeng UNITED STATES said:

    Less interesting terms include 长脸, 圆脸, 方脸 (long, round, and square, respectively)
    饼脸 is also known as 月饼脸 or 大饼脸.
    马脸 is also used in Chinese.
    There’s also 苹果脸 (apple-faced, similar to English baby-faced), but I believe also with red cheeks.
    Finally there are 猪腰子脸 (pig kidney; supposedly 东北话), and 鞋拔子脸 (shoe horn).

    Comment date: Mar 19, 2012

  5. Rachel UNITED STATES said:

    you’ve probably heard of the insult “butter face”, as in “She is pretty, but for her face”

    Comment date: Mar 19, 2012

  6. Sjaco NETHERLANDS said:

    The first and the fourth (guazi lian and bing lian) are face-names I ‘ve heard being used before. Especially bing-face is one I have heard being used by someone complaining about her own face (for no apparent reason as far as I was concerned).

    Comment date: Mar 19, 2012

  7. hanmeng UNITED STATES said:

    I later remembered 娃娃臉, which may or may not refer to Kenneth Brian Edmonds.

    Comment date: Mar 19, 2012

  8. Sam Reeves CHINA said:

    Ya, you certainly have something with the ‘melon seed’ face, which is the most desirable (for them).

    Personally I have another one I call ‘guang chang lian’ or ‘square face’. They don’t like it much, but I find it really attractive for some reason. No matter Chinese or western it really floats my boat :D

    The melon seed faces scare me to be honest. They remind me of the spoon men in ‘close encounters of the third kind’, or Whitley Shreibers’ book ‘communion’ about alien contact. Still, to each his own I suppose.

    Comment date: Mar 19, 2012

  9. Joel CANADA said:

    Wish I’d had this post when I was teaching in Tianjin. We had a lesson on cosmetic surgery that I bet I could have mined for interesting terms like these.

    That first photo looks photoshopped to me.

    Comment date: Mar 20, 2012

  10. hanmeng UNITED STATES said:

    The first photo (范冰冰) may be photoshopped, but lots of her pics look like that. Maybe she’s not real.

    Comment date: Mar 20, 2012

  11. hanmeng UNITED STATES said:

    Oops. I was joking about 范冰冰, but people say she’s had some work done. Do an image search for 范冰冰整容前后对比照.

    Comment date: Mar 20, 2012

  12. Dan UNITED STATES said:

    My wife informs me that there are absolutely face shape terms in English. They are not nearly as poetic as the Chinese ones: Square, round, oval, etc.

    Comment date: Mar 21, 2012

  13. Mary AUSTRALIA said:

    Well, I don’t know about China, but I know that considering face-shapes when it comes to hairstyles is very common in America. But we just use generic shape words like “square”, “oval”, “round”, “heart”, “diamond”, etc. I think I prefer the more colorful “mellon seed” and “goose-egg” descriptions of China!

    Comment date: Apr 4, 2012

  14. Greg said:

    When searching for 餅臉 all the web pages that came up were using 大餅臉。Just to let you know : )

    Comment date: May 16, 2012

  15. 马赛尔 SWITZERLAND said:

    The first picture really looks kinda fake. But the second one is definitely real and not “photoshopped”. I have seen quite a lot of girls in China with this kind of face. I can Imagine how the country face looks like :=) Best wishes from Switzerland

    Marcel

    Comment date: Jun 25, 2012

  16. hanmeng UNITED STATES said:

    I just came across two more discussed by beauty “experts”. U型脸 is an undesirable face that’s puffy (supposedly from fluid retention), has loose skin and a double chin, as opposed to a V型脸.

    Comment date: Jul 12, 2012

  17. Lanjy Chen UNITED STATES said:

    瓜子臉 refers to the face with a very thin chin while 鹅蛋脸 refers to the face with a round chin. Oh by the way the first pic is real, just different persons.

    Comment date: Feb 21, 2013

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