China’s Weeds That Grow on Your Head: Fashion, or Inauspicious Omen?

By Jenny Li
Jenny Li
Jenny Li
October 5, 2015 Updated: October 25, 2015

China’s latest fashion trend has concerning connotations for anyone familiar with traditional Chinese culture.

People are sporting what they call “weeds that grow on head.” The small, clip-on plastic plants make it look like the wearers have weeds growing out of their heads.

In traditional Chinese culture, the word for a grave mound is “grave head.” Combining the characters “weeds” and “head” ties to the phrase “weeds that grow on the grave mound,” which is a symbol that a family has neglected to care for an ancestor’s grave—a bad sign meaning either the family has died or the family values have declined.

The inauspicious character of the trend was largely neglected in official reporting, which even links the phenomenon to Party-aligned patriotism. Around National Day, which celebrates the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) assumption of power in China, a video was published by the online outlet The Paper, based in Shanghai, asking “what kind of weeds grow on your head?” It says the most popular “weeds” are small flags of the People’s Republic of China.

Jenny Li