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Public Pajama Wearers Named and Shamed in Eastern China

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Authorities in a city in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui are publicly naming and shaming citizens for wearing their nightclothes out on the streets. The pajama drama comes just months after officials in northeastern China attempted to ban another popular “uncivilized” fashion known as the “Beijing bikini.”

According to a report in state media outlet The Paper, seven people in the city of Suzhou (a prefecture level city in Anhui, not to be confused with the more famous garden city in Jiangsu) have been publicly shamed as part of a recent initiative to “expose uncivilized behaviors [and] improve citizens’ quality.” Their surnames, partial ID numbers and photos were published on a WeChat account operated by the local government, which encouraged the public to send in photos of anyone partaking in “uncivilized behaviors.”

pajama wearers china

A screenshot of a post on the Suzhou street management office’s Weibo, showing people wearing pyjamas in public

Other activities that could get you snapped for being “uncivilized” in the city include “lying down outside, walking your dog, blocking roads, handing out flyers, or playing cards in a large group [all in an uncivilized manner].”

Following media attention and criticism online, the message has since been deleted and the Suzhou authorities have apologized.

Related:

The Death of the “Beijing Bikini”? Authorities Launch Crackdown on Men Exposing Their Bellies

Suzhou isn’t the only city that’s home to citizens with a penchant for strutting the streets in their pajamas — or the only place in China that’s attempted to crack down on the practice. In Shanghai in the run-up to the 2010 World Expo, authorities attempted to discourage locals from wearing their nightclothes in public, in a move that had little lasting impact.

Many trace the practice back to pajamas being seen as an expensive imported luxury item decades ago. Later, the availability of cheap, comfortable clothing combined with the status symbol hangover and the convenient, communal feeling of many Chinese residential neighborhoods to mean the practice prevailed. And today, it’s still widespread in numerous Chinese cities. PJs’ public prevalence in southern China in particular may also be due to historical heating discrepancies in the country.

Related:

Building China: Why Does Half of China Struggle to Stay Warm Indoors in the Winter?

Commenters on microblogging site Weibo have largely reacted to the news with a mixture of anger and disbelief. “Murderers have their ID numbers published… is wearing pajamas in the streets illegal?!” wrote one. “Getting on with pertinent matters isn’t enough, they have to micromanage people’s lives like this,” read another highly upvoted comment. Another sought clarification regarding Suzhou’s crackdown: “Does this mean I’ll get locked up for wearing hot pants?”

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