A Cultural Lesson for Real Simple Magazine and Their Illustrator

I love my monthly magazines, especially receiving Real Simple. I know it’s not eco-friendly, but as a book lover there’s just something exciting about flipping thru the pages of a physical magazine and hardcover book.

After receiving my copy of Real Simple a couple weeks ago, I finally had a chance to open it today. Under $100 gift guide for women, men, teens/tweens, kids … the wild things sweatshirt so cute! Stocking stuffer ideas. Love the holiday edition.

Then, I stopped at the fashion guide. Speechless.


What in this illustration made me stop so suddenly?

Simple. The main image in the middle. What is that? A women holding a martini glass wearing a orange and golden dress?

No. Not exactly.

If you are Chinese, like me, you’d understand. But for those who aren’t, here’s a cultural lesson.

That seemingly innocent shimmery orange, gold and cream dress is not so simple. The “material” this dress is made of is what we consider “death gold”. It’s paper money and anything, but festive.

For those of us who follow certain Chinese traditions, each time someone passes we fold hundreds of these golden pieces of paper like origami. After we fold them to look like gold from the olden days we burn them.

Somewhat like the tradition of leaving coins to pay for passing after death, these pieces of paper money represent gold for our loved ones to use in the afterlife. This is done at the wake, funeral and then again annually during our “day of the dead” when we pay respect to our ancestors.

Real SimpleEditor Kristin Van Ogtrop or their Senior Art Director Abbey Kuster-Prokell might need to hire a new Illustrator because obviously Serge Bloch didn’t spend too much time thinking about how those little pieces of paper are used when he purchased the pack of 100 sheets from Chinatown.

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