A Hilarious Chinese Lesson About Your Body Parts

Are you a person who is concerned about the body shapes of yourself and others? Sometimes on the street, we can’t take our eyes away when we see some nice body types, or some “辣眼睛 (làyǎnjīng) eyes feeling spicy” types. In Chinese, we have some vivid phrases to describe the perfect and imperfect body parts in a fun way. Applying these useful and funny Mandarin Chinese knowledge points with friends in conversation is essential to gain fluency.

Here are 3 of my favorites:
1. 啤酒肚 (píjiǔ dù): beer belly.
Chinese General Beer Belly

Well, just as we simply put two and two together in English and call it what it is, the Chinese do too! “啤酒 (píjiǔ) beer” + “肚 (dù) belly” is a common expression that is associated with many middle-aged men who enjoy a few too many beers over dinner with friends. This abdominal later of obesity is not good for health and may be a sign to change lifestyle. Maybe it’s you, or maybe it’s your friend. Take care! You may need to do some exercises if your “啤酒肚 (píjiǔ dù) beer belly” begins to appear.


Nǐ yǒu píjiǔ dù ma?
你 有   啤酒  肚 吗?
Do you have a beer belly?

2. 巴掌脸 (bāzhǎng liǎn): palm-sized face.
Chinese General Beer Belly

Unlike a beer belly or elephant legs, most Chinese girls would like a “巴掌脸 (bāzhǎng liǎn)”. “巴掌 (bāzhǎng)” means palm, and “脸 (liǎn)” means face. “巴掌脸 (bāzhǎng liǎn) palm-sized face” is used to describe someone’s face is very small. In China, having a small face is a sign of beauty traditionally. The famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (the award Winning Actress is #2 in “MODE’s World’s 100 Most Beautiful Women) has a perfect “巴掌脸 (bāzhǎng liǎn)” which is admired and sought after by many young girls.


Hěnduō piàoliàng de nǚhái dōu yǒu yì zhāng bāzhǎng liǎn.
很多         漂亮      的  女孩   都    有  一   张     巴掌       脸。
Many beautiful girls have a palm-size face.

3. 大象腿 (dàxiàng tuǐ): stubby legs, elephant legs.
Chinese General Beer Belly

In Mandarin Chinese, we can combine “大象 (dàxiàng) elephant” + “腿 (tuǐ) leg” and get “大象腿 (dàxiàng tuǐ)”. As you’ve probably imagined in your head, having “elephant legs” isn’t necessarily something you’d like to hear if you’re auditioning for Asia’s Next Top Model. It quite simply means that you have “fat legs”. Most Chinese girls would want a “巴掌脸 (bāzhǎng liǎn) palm-sized face”, not “大象腿 (dàxiàng tuǐ) elephant legs”.


Wǒ xiǎng yào xiāochú wǒ de dàxiàngtuǐ.
我    想     要   消除      我  的   大象腿。
I want to get rid of my stubby legs.

Today I introduced three interesting Chinese phrases about how to describe the look of our various body parts. Of course, you can also use these phrases to have fun and joke around while learning Chinese. However, be careful and respectful when speaking in business situations, with new family and to elders. They are not applicable on some formal occasions. I hope these three terms come in handy. Enjoy!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following phrases can be used to describe a beautiful woman?
A. 巴掌脸 (bāzhǎng liǎn)
B. 啤酒肚 (píjiǔ dù)
C. 大象腿 (dàxiàng tuǐ)

―Written by Jennifer Zhu―

Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”

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