Challenging Unconscious Bias, Lux Creates 100 New Female Names in China

Research shows that 47% of women surveyed expressed a desire to change their given names.

Image via VML

Client

Lux

Agency

VML Singapore

According to a new campaign from Unilever’s Lux brand working with VML Singapore, names are so much more than just words: they have the power to define people – not only how they perceive themselves, but how others perceive them.

Yet all too often a name given at birth doesn’t accurately reflect a person’s authentic self and true potential – a particular issue in China, notes the campaign, but also in other countries globally.

“While male names often convey strength or power, many traditional Chinese female names are inherently stereotypical, even sexist, highlighting ‘traditional’ feminine qualities of softness and submissiveness, as well as parental preferences for boys – making these names not just unrepresentative of modern women, but often become lifelong labels for women, reinforcing a gender bias that could limit their potential in life,” said Lux in a release.


 

As a beauty brand that aims to empower women to find strength in their beauty and rise above the judgments they face, it wants to mark 100 years by creating 100 new and powerful (Chinese) names for women.

To challenge unconscious bias and highlight the power of a new name the brand is launching ‘In Her Name’, a social campaign inspiring women to give their daughters stronger, modern alternatives to traditional options or even legally changing their own names – as many women are already doing in China.

With 47% of women surveyed expressing a desire to change their names, ‘In Her Name’ seeks to empower women to become protagonists of their own lives – and what better way to encourage them than by taking a powerful name?


 

A participant in the new initiative is Yà Nán, whose name translates as ‘second to man’ or ‘inferior to man’, says: “This name brings me constant stress. All my life, I had to work harder than men to prove myself.”

To create the ‘In Her Name’ campaign, LUX has worked with linguistics professor and language expert Liu Yanchun on 100 new names that genuinely reflect what Chinese women should be called nowadays.

LUX and VML Singapore worked with linguistics experts on the ‘In Her Name’ campaign which aims at modernizing women’s names to reflect feminine strength.

Instead of highlighting outdated ‘feminine’ traits like ‘quiet’, ‘loveable’ and ‘small’, or a sexist preference for a son such as ‘welcome younger brother’, the new names evoke strength and potential, from 佳睿, meaning ‘beautiful and wise’ to 明奕, meaning ‘a girl with a bright future’.

“‘In Her Name’ is aimed at empowering Chinese women by identifying contemporary names that reflect the power and potential of modern women,” said Severine Vauleon, Global Brand Vice President of LUX.

“Through these new names, women can find strength in their inner and outer beauty – helping us all move further towards a more gender-equal society.”

Prof. Liu Yan Chun, Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Communication, University of China added: “While creating new names, I’ve drawn inspiration from classical literature, embraced positive connotations and addressed contemporary societal needs. Through this diverse lens, I’ve curated names for women.”

In Her Name is backed by a host of influencers and a video. The 100 new names have been revealed via China’s Little Red Book platform (Xiaohongshu), which has 312 million monthly active users. Each name is brought to life by a striking, bespoke image of a woman which embodies the strong, powerful and inspiring associations of each name.

Via a mobile touchpoint on social platforms Douyin and Weibo, followers can also find suggestions about the types of qualities and personality traits they might want their new name to convey and a call to action to join the movement.

“Over the past few years, we are proud to have worked closely with LUX to shed light on some of the judgements and casual sexism women face in their everyday lives,” said Marco Versolato, Chief Creative Officer – Unilever at VML Singapore.

“Now, we’re excited to launch LUX’s latest initiative, “In Her Name” where we have collaborated with linguistics expert Liu Yanchun, on a gender-parity initiative inspired by the recent trend of Chinese women officially changing their birth names. Traditional Chinese names are linguistically beautiful, but in contemporary society don’t necessarily reflect the strength and power of modern Chinese women – which is why we wanted to create some more representative and inspiring options. A name, after all, is so much more than a name – it’s a reflection of your potential.”


All images via VML.

 

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