24 October 2016
Jobless car models dressed like beggars protest a ban at the Shanghai Auto Show. Photo: internet
Jobless car models dressed like beggars protest a ban at the Shanghai Auto Show. Photo: internet

No car girls at auto show — or haven’t you noticed?

When the curtain falls on this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, one long-running feature of the exhibit will have been notable for its absence — sexy car girls.

They’re nowhere to be found on the exhibit floor this year but on Sunday, a dozen were outside holding a rally to protest a ban by organizers.  

Although dressed like beggars, complete with bowls and walking sticks — their faces smudged to look the part — they still appeared good enough to hawk cars on a moment’s notice.

The models held banners proclaiming “we are unemployed” and “beauty is not a crime”.

The most remarkable slogan was a full description of their predicament: “No more car models. Our efforts to stay slim have been wasted. We now come to beg”.

Netizens, however, don’t seem to have sympathy for them, saying the women should develop other skills if they want to make ends meet.

Over the years, scantily clad young women who posed provocatively with cars have helped boost visitor attendance in Chinese auto shows.

But visitors who mainly come to ogle the models rather than the cars have become a distraction, crowding out serious potential buyers.

The models themselves have become unwelcome, especially after they began doing nothing more than pose for photographs with some admirers.

Most visitors appreciate the new policy. They’re now able to focus on the cars and examine every detail from design to technology.

Others, however, are dismayed that organizers are destroying a tradition in car shows by doing away with car beauties.

They say similar exhibits overseas have no problem with car girls, neither has the global car industry.

In fact, car models in foreign shows do more than look pretty and sexy.

Their outfits are designed to complement the brand and they’re known to engage customers in quick conversation about the cars they’re promoting.

But some dealers have found a way to skirt the ban next time around — they’re hiring models as receptionists and sales consultants.   

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EJ Insight writer

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