IKEA China has allegedly banned influencers from posing in front of store lockers, after people flocked to IKEA locations to participate in a trend that romanticizes American high schools.
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So weird. Chinese influencers recently got into taking photos by IKEA storage lockers and pretending that they were in the halls of an American high school. It got so disruptive IKEA just banned the practice. Very obnoxious. Also, what high school do they have in mind?! pic.twitter.com/hp8HTg7QeZ
— Rui Ma 马睿 (@ruima) September 6, 2022
The trend, which is called “Meigaofeng,” is one of the most popular aesthetics right now on the Chinese version of Instagram, Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu). “Meigao” translates to “American high school” and “feng” means “trend.” Those participating in Meigaofeng wear their interpretation of a school uniform — pleated skirts, ties, loafers and blazers.
The IKEA lockers have become such a hot photo prop because most Chinese high schools do not have lockers. IKEA lockers are intended for customers to store their belongings while they shop. While Ma tweeted that IKEA did ban influencers, another outlet said that IKEA staff will only stop people from posing in front of lockers if it disrupts other customers.
"American shows and movies like Gossip Girl, Mean Girls and The Princess Diaries, definitely helped popularize this trend," she said. "Putting on these outfits could be an escape from reality and allow [influencers] to experience virtually what it is like to be a high school student in the U.S."
According to Lin, Chinese uniforms are seen as more plain compared to the American uniforms popularized on TV.
"Every student wears the same tracksuit that only has a two-color combination (usually white plus a darker color like black or red)," she said. "Chinese girls think American high school uniforms allow [more of an] expression of individual styles and creativity."
Plus, the looks are easily attainable. None of the influencers participating in the trend need to shell out for expensive brands to achieve the look.
Vice reporter Chloe Xiang also pointed out that influencers pose with what they considered to be “American” props, like cans of Coca-Cola.
Young Chinese citizens’ interest in American culture — especially trying to emulate it — isn’t anything new. In late 2021, as pandemic lockdowns in China started to lift, a trend exploded on social media where influencers would pose and pretend to be in the U.S.
The trend inexplicably had people posing in front of the Shanghai Costco, with captions that said they were “pretending to be in Los Angeles.” Similar to Meigaofeng, influencers posed with items that seemed to try to reflect America: shopping carts, pizza boxes and cans of Coke.
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