Conversion Folk Belief – China

When finished eating, you must clean your plate completely and every bit of food must be eaten.  If not, your future husband (or wife) will have the acne everywhere on the face that food was left on the place.

Pauline told me that this was told to her by her mother when she was a child.  She was born and raised in Taiwan with her older brother, older sister, and younger brother.  She said that this belief is very popular in China and Taiwan.  When she heard this, she said she was just a little girl, probably around seven or eight.  Her mother told this to her and her siblings while they were growing up; she and her siblings very diligently followed this belief.  She said that this folk belief traveled through her family for many generations. Believing and following it as a child, she further carried this belief by telling it to her children as they were growing up as well.

It was probably told to children because food was very scarce and precious; parents probably told children this belief because it was very important to convince children not to waste food without instructing them.  Rather than explaining the scarcity of food, parents would frighten children by telling them that their future spouses would suffer from the amount of acne equivalent to the amount of food they wasted as a child.

While I do not believe that this folk belief is true, I think it is an effective tactic to get children to finish all their food and indirectly learn that wasting is unacceptable.  As I child, I also believed this folk belief to be true.  I was certain that if I did not clean off my plate at every single meal, my future husband would be doomed to have the equivalent amount of acne on his face.  At the time, I followed this belief because I believed in it; now, I recognize the importance of the belief because of its true meaning and reference. I now follow the belief because of different reasons than I did when I was younger.  Even though the perceived threat in the belief does encourage and accept superficial desires for a good-looking husband, the true purpose of the belief is effective and has prevented all in my family at least from wasting and taking for granted my resources.