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szdaily -> NIE
Pursuit of luxury brands by students triggers concern
     2010-October-13  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

追逐名牌风气在中学生中蔓延

奢侈品通常是收入不菲的成功人士的专利,可在深圳的高档商场里却不乏中学生的身影.他们身着名牌,刷着父母给的信用卡,消费起动辄成千上万的国际名牌却没有丝毫犹豫.而每年的假期过后,教室和寝室就是他们的秀场.青少年追逐名牌的风气着实让家长和老师担忧.

Wang Yuanyuan

It's summer vacation, a time when students are free and annual summer sales reign. On the busiest shopping streets in Shenzhen, young student shoppers are everywhere, even in the shops selling luxury world-famous brands that would frighten even some white-collar workers with their sky-high prices.

Some students even cross the border to Hong Kong on shopping sprees. Many go home with a pile of booty.

When Zhong Shuhua saw her 16-year-old daughter's shopping bag, which was filled with trendy clothes and cosmetic products, she found herself gobsmacked.

"I was so surprised to see what she had bought in Hong Kong," Zhong said. "Lipsticks from Revlon, eyeliners from Rimmel, dresses from I.T., a necklace from Swarovski and skin-care products from Lancome -- all the things she doesn't need at such a young age." What Zhong didn't know was that her daughter was definitely not an exception.

Unlike years ago, many middle school students now seem to have abandoned the cheaply fashionable products in the Dongmen shopping area, once a paradise for fashionistas with little money in their pockets. They've shifted their playground to the high-end shopping malls for the brand products that are quite beyond their means.

"The beginning of every semester is always a time to show off," said a teacher surnamed Cai at Bao'an Senior Middle School. Many students come back to school with the prizes they've purchased during vacation.

"Boys have the latest cell phones or new PSPs and girls spread all kinds of skin-care products on the table and trendy shoes under their beds in their dormitories," Cai said.

Of course not all students are like that, said Xu Qin, a soon-to-be Senior 2 student from Shenzhen No.2 Experimental School. But the phenomenon does exist among Xu's classmates and friends, Xu said.

Xu thought these problems might be the result of massive TV commercials and popular fashion magazines widely read by students.

"We have lots of channels to get this kind of information," Xu said. "The more information you get, the more you want to have them. So those who have a large amount of pocket money start to buy these things, and the trend will gradually spread to their friends, classmates and eventually the whole school."

Xu said she was not a brand-name fanatic but occasionally buys some of the expensive products when shopping with her friends. "After a half-day shopping in Sasa Cosmetics in Hong Kong with my friends, it was a mission impossible to wind up empty-handed, even though I knew they were far too expensive for me," said Xu.

The trend has triggered concerns among many parents and teachers who regard the pursuit of brand-name products as stunting the proper development of students.

"These things are expensive and, most importantly, unnecessary for students," said Cai. "The most important thing for them to learn now is the value of hard work, which can make them realize wasting their parents' money is a shame. They must get to know that in the future, they have to rely on themselves."

Schools have a role in educating students about this, said Pi Aimin, principal of Shenzhen Wenjing Middle School. But Pi thinks parents can do more.

"Family education plays a crucial role in the issue," Pi said. "Parents should control the amount of money they allow them to spend and never encourage their children to get high scores in study by offering luxury gifts. Instead, they can encourage them to participate in social work and help those in need. Cultivating children's sense of independence is helpful to prevent them from using parents' money for unnecessary things."

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