Shanghai Marriage Market

Finding love can be hard, especially when your parents get involved.

In China, busy schedules combined with an imbalance between the male and female population and societal pressure to get married before 30 can make the process even more challenging. These days, young people just don't have the time to find their significant other. Whether these young folks want it or not, some of their parents have come up with a solution: The Shanghai Marriage Market.

Every Saturday and Sunday parents of unmarried adults gather in People's Park to swap info and find a potential match for their lovelorn offspring. This "meet" market is a bit like a low tech version of Tinder ran by the parents and family of those who have yet to find love. Instead of a digital profile parents take a more analogue approach, posting a pen-and-paper dating profile onto umbrellas and cork-boards all around the park. Photographs, as well as age, height, weight, career, income, education, values and Chinese Zodiac are all attributes advertised by the potential parent in-laws. Parents then browse the park on behalf of their kids hoping to find their right match. How often love is found in this way is a little unclear to me. 

Shanghai and the rest of China for that matter is a place that seems to be growing so fast in just about every respect, including family values. With quick growth comes some growing pains.

Younger generations with a good education are probably more inclined to be focused on their careers, and less so on starting a family. The parents of these same youth probably have a more traditional view point where starting a family unit is top priority. Perhaps this juxtaposition between new and old ways of thinking is what has given birth to The Shanghai Marriage Market. 

Regardless of its roots, it was fascinating to walk up and down these rows of umbrellas and listings. I did feel a little guilty as I could sense a level of shame that came along with this process. Being the pasty and hairy man that I am I stuck out like a sore thumb, so as I walked by a lot of people were covering their faces. Despite this I couldn't help but take a few laps and snaps around the market. Here are a few images from my Shanghai Marriage Market walkabout. I hope you enjoy.