Online concern over Chinese ‘human embroidery’ trend


Chinese media are asking parents to be vigilant about a new, online trend: stitching patterns into your skin.

Online users have in recent weeks been posting pictures on social media of patterns embroidered onto their skin.

It seems to have been inspired by a forbidden Japanese cartoon, and follows a trend set by the controversial “Blue Whale” self-harm and suicide “game”.

Media warn that this form of self-harm may cause a bacterial infection or a virus, and lead to septicaemia.

‘Secretly spreading’

Over 40,000 users commented on People's Daily's Weibo warning, many reacting with horrorImage copyrightPEOPLE’S DAILY/SINA WEIBO
Image captionOver 40,000 users commented on People’s Daily’s Weibo warning, many reacting with horror

The official People’s Daily warns that skin embroidery is “secretly spreading amongst young people” and shares images that users have been posting online on its Sina Weibo page.

Many of the images show participants using coloured thread to stitch patterns through the skin on their hands, legs, and even their lips. Some also add beads and ribbons as added decorations.

The pictures have received tens of thousands of comments from concerned users. Many call them “sick”, “crazy”, and acts of “self-mutilation”.

“How could this kind of thing be fashionable?” asks “idodyu”. “Yanliang520” adds: “Is playing with your phone not enough entertainment?”


Some activists use lip-sewing as a form of protest, but this is the first time it's been used for
Some activists use lip-sewing as a form of protest, but this is the first time it’s been used for “fashion”

While there have been many reports overseas of refugees or protesters using lip-sewing as a form of activism, there are concerns in China that this controversial trend gives appropriation to self-mutilation.

Many media say that they feel it has been popularised in China by a character in a Japanese comic, Tokyo Ghoul.

Although officially banned in the mainland, such taboo comics prove popular amongst the country’s youth.

Some social media users share images of one woman, who has sewn across her lips, collarbone and arms in an attempt to look like Juuzou Suzuya, one of the show’s characters.

Outlets also blame the rise in participation on the controversial “Blue Whale” internet “game”, which has become increasingly popular in China over the last two months. At least one Chinese teenager has been arrested for “spreading extremism”, after posting images and comments encouraging participation.

In May, the official reported that leading search engine Baidu had seen a spike in web users searching “blue whale” and related terms.

Many news portals have subsequently been cracking down on forum and chat groups believed to be encouraging self-harm.


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